Wolf Alice @ The Academy, Leeds

Posted by vibrations on 22-03-16

Ellie Rowsell, Joff Oddie, Theo Ellis and Joel Amey caused quite a stir last year with the release of the curiously sophisticated Wolf Alice debut ‘My Love Is Cool’ on an unsuspecting public. A bunch of festival appearances coinciding with airplay in all the right places then propelled the album all the way to the dizzying heights of #2, quite some feat indeed.
Nevertheless, having seen their choice of Leodensian venue for tonight’s show, I did wonder if they had bitten off more than they could chew, having witnessed a few sparsely attended recent Academy gigs by supposedly established acts.  

My fears prove unfounded as the place is crammed to the rafters with a wide range of age groups, indication ‘My Love Is Cool’ has deservedly proven to be a widely appealing album. In fact, officially, the show is completely sold out which is great to see. When both Academy floors are in use, the atmosphere at this super little venue cranks up several notches, and the somewhat predictable chants of ‘Yorkshire’ clearly audible from the audience during the sound check, already warmed up by Bloody Knees and Swim Deep.  
The quartet take to the stage to a huge cheer, their opening introductory track seguing into an absolutely blinding version of ‘Your Love’s Whore’, without doubt one of the best curtain raisers in a live set I’ve witnessed for quite a while, beautifully replicating the sharpness and urgency of the recorded version. What’s more, the sound is loud as hell, yet clear as a bell; the fired up lads complimented by Ellie’s vocal, beautifully perched on top, as one yet again starts to fear for one’s already loosening teeth.

The infectiously groovy ‘Germ’ and bouncy pop nugget ‘Freazy’ follow, both similarly are alluring with lead guitarist Joff doubling up on keyboards. On first watch you quickly realise Wolf Alice aren’t a bunch of indie kids messing around, this is a damned good band probably going places. The latest incarnation of ‘My Love Is Cool’ featuring an extra dozen tracks, gives them over two dozen to draw from in tonight’s set. By now the Academy is positively bouncing, as ‘Bros’ and ‘Lisbon’ fly by, the audience singing along in all the right places, particularly during hidden coda ‘The Wonderwhy’.

Drummer Joel Amey also boasts a surprisingly good voice too, given his starring spot tonight on the tantric ‘Swallow Tail’, the first of the final quartet of songs along with the scuzzy brace ‘Fluffy’ and ‘She’ followed by the grungy ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’.

The band cap off a fine show by returning for three more in their encore, the ethereal opener from their debut ‘Turn to Dust’, the slow building ‘She’ before leaving for good after the road trip groovathon ‘Giant Peach’, Ellie moving stage front at the end to show her appreciation to an audience who’ve done the band proud tonight.

Mike Price