After six NME award nominations, one Grammy and a Brit nomination in 2016 so far, indie-folk rockers Wolf Alice embarked on their UK tour just last week playing to sold out venues across the country. Initially forming as an acoustic duo back in 2010, consisting of sullen and sultry lead singer Ellie Roswell and guitarist Joff Oddie, the band soon realised they needed a fuller sound, and recruited bassist Theo Ellis and drummer Joel Amey. Their debut album, My Love is Cool, went to number two in the UK album charts; the four-piece are bringing back 90s grunge with a sense of delicacy to a totally new audience.
As the main room of the Manchester Academy fills up, it’s hard to detect a particular style of audience. Screaming fourteen year-olds covered in glitter, sincere looking 20 odd-year-olds and middle-aged blokes alike mingle through the crowd, showcasing the band’s accessibility and appeal to anyone of any age.
Wolf Alice enter in a humble fashion, shuffling onstage as the lights turn black. The first raw chords of straight-talking track ‘Your Loves Whore’ ring out and the crowd are sold. Combining a rough-and-ready bass with Roswell’s fragile, almost angelic vocals, the band surge through hit after hit including ‘You’re a Germ,’ ‘Freazy’ and particular crowd-favourite, ‘Bros’, a moving song about the comradery of two best friends. With harsh, coarse backing vocals from Ellis, the combination and clash of harmonies can only be described as beautiful.
With relief from the flood of angst provided by soothing lullaby ‘The Wonderwhy’, the band’s brilliant songwriting ability is truly exhibited. Roswell almost whispers her way through this thoughtful and reflective song, whilst the atmosphere turns from raunchy and raw to calm and collected. However, in true, unpredictable Wolf Alice style, the crowd is surged back into Wolf Alice’s familiar style with grunge/punk inspired track ‘Storms.’ As Ellis asks the question “Are you still with us Manchester?” he is answered instantly by a roar of cheers and applause from the ever faithful crowd, and the band power on.
Listening to their album, you would struggle to detect that the band are quite quiet and reserved; despite little crowd interaction, Wolf Alice manage to keep their audience fully engaged and entranced with their music alone. As the band finish their initial set with three of their biggest tracks off the album, ‘Fluffy,’ ‘She’ and ‘Moaning Lisa Smile,’ the energy surges throughout the crowd without faltering for even a second.
Declaring that Manchester has been “completely amazing”, the band barley have time to put down their guitars before the crowd beg for an encore. Gifting the audience with beautiful and soothing song ‘Turn to Dust,’ Wolf Alice seem genuinely thrilled by the reaction they’ve received, perhaps proving their pure intentions as a band on the cusp of becoming huge. Ending the fourteen-song set with slower track ‘Blush’ and of course, the single that started it all, ‘Giant Peach,’ the band depart the stage, with the crowd still roaring for more behind them.
Wolf Alice are no ordinary band. Managing to execute so many contrasting moods in one album is a hard task for any established artist to master, yet they do it effortlessly. With a festival-packed season ahead of them, as well as American and European dates throughout the rest of the year, Wolf Alice can only be set for bigger and better things.