Wolf Alice

Wolf Alice

– THE RITZ, MANCHESTER –

Hype Machine named them the UK’s most blogged about artist of 2013 and then in 2014 they were named Breakthrough Act Of The Year at the UK festival awards. So it’s fair to say a lot has already been written about tonight’s headliners Wolf Alice, and their growing stature has not gone unnoticed. Their touring schedule has been hectic, after returning from a month in the US a few days ago they’re already back on the road and they’ve brought Crows and The Magic Gang along for the ride.

Crows are up first and they bring a frenetic performance to the stage. Frontman James Cox ensures there is always something interesting to watch. Whether the ferocious playing of imaginary drums during ‘Silver Tongues’ or the climbing along the barrier in front of the crowd during ‘Crawling’, his gnarly vocals added to his on stage antics make it an enjoyable half an hour. They’ve recently been announced to be supporting Slaves on their tour in May too – I’ve already got my ticket for that one, so I’ll definitely be down early to catch Crows again.

Next onto stage is The Magic Gang. The moment they start playing opening song ‘You Don’t Want Me’ the band all look delighted to be here. That feeling doesn’t drop throughout and the ever increasing crowd seem to have bought in too. Their poppy guitar hooks and punchy vocals are very pleasing and as they finish their set with upcoming debut single ‘No Fun’ I can’t help feeling that title is somewhat misleading.

There’s what feels like a long wait now before Wolf Alice take to the stage. The last few stragglers pile in, not knowing how much they’ve already missed. Eventually, with the stage completely drowned in blue light, tonight’s headliners emerge. They get straight on with playing ‘Fluffy’ and the crowd waste no time getting involved. Whoever is operating the lighting rig at The Ritz is eager to get involved too. The regularly changing colours bathe the band and really add to the atmosphere.

Wolf Alice

Wolf Alice

Second track of the night is ‘She’ which is followed by ‘Your Love’s Whore’. The vocals of Ellie Rowsell are drenched in reverb, but it really makes them stand out. ’90 Mile Beach’ from the 2013 Blush EP and new song ‘The Wonderwhy’ are next before the room explodes during the opening chords of ‘Storms’. The Ritz’s infamous bouncy floor begins to flex as some members of the audience battle to see who can jump highest in excitement.

Another new song is next up, as Rowsell and guitarist Joff Oddie both put down their guitars for ‘Soapy Water’. The lower tempo song has quietened the crowd a little, but then ‘Bros’ comes along to send everyone back into a frenzy. It’s during the next song ‘Blush’ that I think the real quality of the band shines. Bringing the tempo back down, ‘Blush’ invokes the euphoric feeling usually reserved for festival headliners. The kind of moment that makes hairs stand up. Having managed to supply it here, I’ve no doubt they’ll be doing the same from a giant stage somewhere very soon.

Two more songs close the first part of the set, ‘You’re A Germ’ and then latest single ‘Giant Peach’. The band leave the stage briefly, but they quickly bounce back into their positions to play some more music. Rowsell thanks the crowd, adding “we’ve always dreamed of having a crowd like you”. They break into ‘White Leather’ and some audience members start climbing up onto shoulders of others, another thing I’m more accustomed to experiencing at a festival performance. The final song of the night is ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’ and it comes with the most enthusiastic jumping around. After the final song, bassist Theo Ellis dives into the crowd. Having caught him, a large number of the people around where he landed chose to ruffle his hair. That wasn’t the reaction I expected, and I’m guessing not the one he expected either.

The set was over fairly quickly, but you’d expect that from a band whose debut album isn’t even released for another 3 months. As I was leaving the venue, the two loudest summations I overheard from other punters were ‘Sick’ and ‘Great’ and I think that sums it up pretty well.

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Adam Smith

There is nothing I'd rather be doing with my evenings than watching excellently crafted live music. In fact, there isn't much I'd rather be doing than watching half-decent live music. Having too often seen excellent bands fail to garner the attention I believe they deserve, I'm here to spread the good word of the under-appreciated musical performer. I encourage everyone who is reading this to do the same.