Too distracted by passing fads, the biggest mistake the rock music press in this country have made in the last decade is failing to cling to and champion Wolf Alice.
Narrowly missing the top spot in the album charts twice now (foiled a second time by a returning Shania Twain), they are the ambassadors rock music has needed for a long while, equipped with an early Smashing Pumpkins sensibility and a genuine rock star in Ellie Roswell.
Their new album Visions of a Life is so varied, and so confident, that it ought to end with an eyebrow-cock and an accompanying “see?”, and tonight is no different, opening as the album does with ‘Heavenward’ and ‘Yuk Foo’, two songs that could not be any more different.
It’s how they flow so seamlessly from My Bloody Valentine walls of noise to Nine Inch Nails-esque riffing that never stops impressing, threaded together by that erratic songwriting style, never creating the same thing twice.
It’s so deliberate too, ‘Planet Hunter’ building like a post-rock crescendo but restraining itself, even in the live environment where the explosion could continue for longer, but Wolf Alice choose not to indulge and move on to the next genre, the next idea, and never sit still.
The same can be said for ‘Beautifully Unconventional’, which begs for just one more repetition of the chorus, especially live where you can’t just press repeat, demanding that the crowd enjoys it while it lasts, all two minutes of it.
But then ‘Visions of a Life’ comes along, an eight minute epic, finally indulging in progressive rock movements and one of the loudest riffs of the year.
That this sits comfortably in the set alongside ‘Don’t Delete the Kisses’, a sunkissed irony-free ode to feeling, is testament to what the band are capable of: a rare trust between crowd and band, where the crowd are willing to be taken where the band says they will go, from pop hits to sprawling suites.
‘You’re a Germ’ is particularly poignant considering recent headlines, playfully, but aggressively, spat and sang back at the band, more than capable of singalongs weighty enough to break through the distorted guitars, and even more so on ‘Silk’ when Roswell’s voice is front and centre.
Wolf Alice are formidably cool, building a fanbase that crosses generations and genres, and that broad appeal will be what inevitably propels them to the point where no one can ignore them.
Words: Scott Wilson
Photos: Jake Gordon