I arrived at The Forum Kentish Town, drenched in rain, blending in amongst the glitter and Doc Martens that swarmed the venue. Surrounding me were half-drunk teens, similarly anticipating the incredible Wolf Alice and support acts Bloody Knees and Swim Deep. The band had played for three consecutive nights already at The Forum, but I knew the four-piece alt/rock band would leave London on a high note. I had only found out I was going to the gig that morning, so the excitement didn’t have time to catch up with me until doors opened; it was for real.
It took the audience a while to adjust to the vast change to Bloody Knees’ rugged, lo-fi punk fuelled sound, but after a few songs, circle-pits had become accustom. Bradley Griffiths’ striking vocals were flaunted, especially in their track ‘Daydream’; his raspy rock tone electrifying the venue. And yes, his chest tattoo is just as impressive in person. Inevitably, being the first support act to a band as huge as Wolf Alice was a mammoth task, but BK put on an admirable performance.
Swim Deep followed shortly afterwards, instilling a different, but exceedingly lively ambiance with their electro- indie, synth motivated, chill sound. Despite their music being a lot calmer than BK, the crowd had loosened up a lot more and erupted into mad mosh pits- we were in it for the long-haul. Tipsy teenagers roared the lyrics of ‘To My Brother’ with lead vocalist Austin Williams, as he engulfed us into a psychedelic rock fantasy. Swim Deep are extremely charismatic performers, whipping the crowd into an insanely happy frenzy from the outset. The audience seemed to show noticeable connection to the band’s classic anthems ‘King City’ and ‘She Changes The Weather’ not to mention their track ‘Grand Affection’ from their new album. Slightly disappointingly, ‘Honey’ – a common favourite amongst Swim Deep fans- was not played, but that did not hinder their set from being brilliant.
Then Wolf Alice came on. I could see everyone encapsulated by Ellie Rowsell’s beautiful stage presence from the first moment. The band played a short Intro, which got the crowd raging, thirsty to hear tracks from their recent album ‘Your Love Is Cool’. Teasing with aesthetic lighting and Joff Oddie’s sleek guitar riffs, Wolf Alice pristinely transitioned into Joel Amey’s drum intro for ‘Your Love’s Whore’. From the moment their set began, the entire crowd were dancing, singing and moshing. The atmosphere was honestly amazing. Unfortunately, Theo Ellis (bassist) had to pull out from the show on medical grounds, but was sufficiently covered by John from Gengahr, who supported the band’s tight sound superbly.
Wolf Alice started their set with their more pop driven tracks, which got the crowd moving in rapid speed. The entire venue were screaming the opening lyrics to ‘You’re a Germ’ and kept up the energy throughout, enthusing the perfect moment for a circle pit before the chorus. ‘Freazy’ was performed excellently, sounding even better than on record; it got everyone bobbing along, and flaunted Ellie’s beautiful vocal tone. The crowd favourite ‘Bros’ proved to be a brilliant track, and captured the essence of Wolf Alice that adds soft lo-fi tones to indie rock/pop melodies to transport you to musical paradise. ‘Lisbon’ was held together fantastically well, with its atonal breakdowns and smooth transitions between the upbeat verses and striking instrumentals.
The band then calmed things down, following with their more chill tracks ’90 Mile Beach’, ‘Silk’ and ‘Wonder Why’, showing their range and diversity as a band. Being able to completely smash it in both upbeat tracks and their more sultry sounds just proves how incredibly versatile and talented Wolf Alice are. These slower tracks also enabled Ellie’s astonishing vocals to come through. Her wispy, light tone is so enthralling and gorgeous to hear- and the contrasting fragility of her voice with their sleek guitar adds that edge that establishes Wolf Alice from all other bands out there.
The end of their set was beautifully composed, combining the fury of ‘Fluffy’, ‘She’ and ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’ to leave the crowd in a frenzied state. The sheer passion and energy that was thrown in by the band in performance and the audience’s commitment to moshing and dancing at every given moment was incredible. Leaving the stage with the audience in a daze and having not yet played arguably their most iconic tunes, kindled the fire amongst the crowd to scream for the encore. You could feel the immense elation from every audience member as the band came back out and restored everyone’s sanity with ‘Turn To Dust’, which beautifully calmed the audience in preparation for ‘Blush’. This track gave me goosebumps and had the whole of the Forum singing along with Ellie’s hypnotic voice, totally immersed in the sheer genius of the track. Then came the big finale: ‘Giant Peach’. Every second of the intricate guitar intro was savoured by the crowd, and the mad vibes were restored with the manic melody. The outro was rightly elongated, as metallic confetti came down above us. The crowd screamed and cheered tumultuously, and I was in awe at the level of brilliance I had just encountered. A truly amazing night.
The lights came up to hundreds of awestruck teens, drenched in sweat, with glitter peeling off their faces and holding countenances of pure amazement. Wolf Alice had stolen everyone’s hearts.
It was my first ever time seeing Wolf Alice live, so I had nothing to directly compare it to, but the band left a lasting impression I will never forget. My friend Harry, who I went to the gig with, had seen Wolf Alice before on numerous occasions and commented that ‘musically they’re so much tighter now it seems’ and ‘Joff is an incredibly adept guitar player’. I think everyone who saw the band on their ‘Your Love Is Cool’ tour can relate when I say it was an unforgettable evening and I am unsure if it can ever be topped.
I would just like to thank Harry for his contributions to this post. He provided many insightful perceptions on the gig and photos that I included. He is going to be writing directly for the blog very soon so keep an eye out for that. Adam also contributed some excellent photos.
My twitter – @angelxwitney
Harry’s twitter – @Mr_HarryJHarvey