April 10, 2015

Review: Wolf Alice @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London 04/03/15


Review by Nathan Hetherington / Photo by Braden Fletcher

London four-piece Wolf Alice are on the brink of releasing their debut album “My Love Is Cool” after 3 or so years of putting out buzz worthy EPs, touring extensively and particularly impressing at their numerous festivals appearances. This is their biggest headline show to date, in the ornate Shepherds Bush Empire in West London. It’s sold out and avid fans are said to be queuing outside the venue from 11am so it’s fair to say that there’s a certain level of expectation surrounding this show.

Bloody Knees have pleasure of opening up and play a set of material unlike anything SBE has likely seen before. It’s a glorious polarity between regal surroundings and raucous modern punk sounds, complete with bare chests and baseball caps the four-piece from Cambridge put on a fascinating display of raw, primal energy that stunned a youthful crowd.

Next up from Brighton is another example of an exciting guitar band with a potentially huge summer ahead of them. Don’t be put off by the name, The Magic Gang bare a charming resemblance to 80’s US college rock sounds and with a confident wall of backing vocals and nostalgic hooks they effortlessly proved their worth as one of indie music’s hottest prospects. Early track ‘She Won’t Ghost’ and current single ‘Alright’ stand out with the kind of huge choruses that will no doubt be echoing around the festival fields in a few months time.

Wolf Alice then take the stage to deliver a set of hard hitting material. Opening with “Fluffy” and “She”, both tracks that earned them so much attention in 2013 and the swirling crowd respond immediately to the sounds reverberating around the theatre. It’s a flawless, ballsy performance from a band that have been yearning to play bigger stages for a while and it was a wholly rewarding experience to witness Ellie Rowsell commanding the audience so confidently as she shrieked and howled her way through their now formidable catalogue.

There is nothing understated about Wolf Alice any more, they dress like rock stars in front of a shimmering stage set, firing off confetti canons and smoke whilst leaping into the crowd – but most importantly it’s their songwriting and production that isn’t letting up here, getting girthier and more raucous by the minute. “Giant Peach” is a perfect example of how their thunderous drums and face ripping guitars are taking their sound from the realms of folk-tinged pop, to a whole other level of world dominating grunge rock. Rightly so this song is saved for the end of the set, right before an encore of yet more big hitters including “Moaning Lisa Smile”, before the night draws to a satisfying close.

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