It’s fair to say that Wolf Alice have had an extremely successful year, especially after winning the prestigious Mercury Prize for their second album, Visions of a Life. The four-piece are celebrating the end of the album’s cycle by treating their fans to three exclusive UK shows, kicking off the proceedings at Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse.
Token indie support band Vinyl Staircase are first to grace the stage, swishing their long wavy mops about to their trance-like pop-rock tunes. Twenty minutes later, what looks like three sixty-year-old dads in their old velvet flares begin tuning instruments. It’s not until a hairy-legged woman with sparkly shorts and missing teeth bounces on, that everyone understands this is the second support, Surfbort. The shocking image of the frontwoman paired with her raucous anecdotal songs about ‘waking up feeling like shit but still wanting to make out’ enable the Brooklyn punks to momentarily steal the limelight.
Moving onto the main attraction, the lights dim once more, and the Harry Potter soundtrack fills the stifling hot air. Wolf Alice are met with a roar as they open with the blistering Yuk Foo, as the crowd recite the fury-filled line “You bore me to death!”. The raging tone is kept stable via the eruption of mosh pits throughout Giant Peach and Lisbon, and everyone is left gasping for breath.
A selection of more mellow songs follows, going from 90 Mile Beach to Blush. It’s then visible that the band can easily control the audience, having the power to quickly chop and change the mood. Lead singer Ellie Rowsell often is often the ringleader of this, as she swaps clutching a bunch of flowers under the angelic light of a sparkling glitterball during Don’t Delete the Kisses, for smoldering and condescending glares throughout Formidable Cool.
Despite the gig hailing the triumphant tracks on Visions of a Life, the band seem to include some lesser-played songs from their 2015 debut, My Love Is Cool. As Storms and White Leather come to a close, bassist Theo Ellis realises that they are still pretty fresh, with tons more potential: “We’ve been playing a lot of old songs for you tonight…wait that’s bullshit because none of them are really that old.”
The encore boasts two of the band’s most well-known songs, Moaning Lisa Smile and Giant Peach. Random Christmas decorations light up the stage, but sadly there is no sign of a rendition of their popular Santa Baby cover.
Despite the festive let-down, the night still stands as a reflection of how Wolf Alice have firmly rooted themselves at the top of the current indie scene. Hopefully, with infectious new music in the near future, they can continue to perform exceptionally fierce live shows and thus earn their way into the hall of indie rock legends.