Imagine a room of very, very young people. People so young their skin seems to radiate a sort of natural vibrance that’s at once oddly reassuring but mainly infuriating. People who not only know who Callux and KSI are, but might actually care. It feels like half of Generation Z is piled into the Brighton Dome tonight, running fingers through their casually tousled hair and wearing a ludicrous amount of denim. They’re all here to see Wolf Alice, a band that’s apparently something of a teen phenomenon, and standing among these smiling, shrieking youths, I very much want to die.
But if there’s one person who can remedy even the foulest of moods, it’s Ellie Rowsell. Striding onto the stage along with her three bandmates, the London four-piece bursts into ‘Heavenward’, the opening track of their spectacular 2017 album Visions Of A Life. Rowsell stands glowering at the crowd with a rock star sneer, surveying her audience as it instantly dissolves into a whirlwind of adolescent wildness. But surely Wolf Alice are used to this. Their brand of fierce indie rock inspires a euphoric abandon amongst their followers, and the band are only too happy to give their hormonal fans what they want, at times extending tracks to include frenetic, high-energy outros.
Second track ‘Yuk Foo’ is an instant highlight, Rowsell screeching her way through the band’s comeback track from earlier this year. She’s backed by Joff Oddie and Theo Ellis who bark the backing vocals while Rowsell holds centre stage, looking like a goth Taylor Swift, dressed all in black and with scraped back wet-look hair. There’s both a frailty and ferocity in her voice that sometimes feels even beyond her own control as she wails through ‘Your Loves Whore’ before offering something more tender and delicate for the beautiful ‘St. Purple & Green’. It’s this juxtaposition that makes Wolf Alice so compelling – and so unpredictable.
Even the slower songs of the evening inspire mass moshing, leaving you trying to remember whether the band actually sounds this raucous on record or whether this hard rock edge only rears its head during live shows. Tracks like the gushing ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’ and the celestial ‘Planet Hunter’ enrapture and invigorate the braying crowd who, it turns out, will pretty much jump around to anything. Still, Rowsell doesn’t seem to mind, keeping the dialogue to an absolute minimum, only offering the occasional pleasantry here and there. It seems fitting she should remain an enigmatic presence, saving her voice for tracks that often require a staggering amount of vocal acrobatics.
Though tonight’s performance relies heavily on material from the band’s latest album (all but two tracks get an airing), there’s plenty of space for older songs, including favourites ‘Bros’, ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’ and ‘Fluffy’. For their encore, the band play early track ‘Blush’ before a riotous airing of ‘Giant Peach’, a standout track from their much lauded debut. Wolf Alice are like a force of nature to see live, in part due to the intense fervour in which they thrash through their set and in part due to the rabid energy they draw from their audience. As Rowsell howls through her cannon of gloom rock hits, there’s no denying that Wolf Alice are every inch as ferocious as their name.
Featured image by asdarkasblack