2015 has been a massive year for Wolf Alice. Following a long spell of slowly increasing hype (which saw Ellie Rowsell and co. light up the blogosphere), the London quartet released their debut album, My Love is Cool earlier this year. The record, which went straight in at #1, set the scene for a massive year in independent music, with Wolf Alice now the frontrunners in their field. Earlier this week, the band took to Amsterdam’s 380-capacity Bitterzoet for a sold out show. Read on for a full live review.
Taking to the stage dead-on 9pm, Ellie Rowsell and her band (guitarist Joff Oddie, bassist Theo Ellis and drummer Joel Amey) didn’t take much time in getting started for what was their first ever Dutch headline show. Your Loves Whore’s opening percussion and finger-picked guitars echoed lightly through the Bitterzoet, with Rowsell’s vocals slowly but surely soaring through the packed room. This song is made for arenas and festival main stages, its slow and progressive build-up eventually leading into the laid-back Freazy. Freazy’s verses utilize hazy vocal effects and a lilting percussive section, before the chorus bounces along nicely. It isn’t the most captivating song on My Love is Cool, but live Freazy has an extra sense of energy and youthful euphoria which comes across nicely in small spaces. The set, which lasted just under an hour, featured an early highlight in the form of Bros, which has been part of Wolf Alice’s ever-evolving back catalogue as early as 2012. “Oh, there’s no one who knows me like you do” sings Rowsell, Bros’ lyrics building on topics of young friendship. Despite an exciting opening salvo of songs, it still did take a while for the show to kick into shape. The first signs of chaos came in the form of You’re a Germ, which saw a small moshpit ever so slowly erupt into a huge fireball of limbs flailing and fangirls screaming. Counting up from one to seven, Rowsell and co. declare “you won’t go to heaven!” as fuzzy guitars and pulsating bass intertwine. Lisbon was more subtle and progressive, making way for the anthemic Silk. Both songs are extremely mesmerising onstage, with Silk inciting a mass sing-along from the small crowd.
Silk’s lilting melodies made way for the set low point, hidden track The Wonderwhy, before leading into what became one of the set’s highlights – Storms. The older track, taken from 2014 EP Creature Songs, bears an absolutely massive riff and equally large chorus. A repetitive line of, “your friends, your friends” was underpinned by grungy guitars, before the even older 90 Mile Beach slowed down proceedings even more. 90 Mile Beach presented the set with another dip, which was unfortunately made worse by the choice to include the Amey helmed Swallowtail. Although the drummer has a great live voice, Swallowtail ended up building up to not very much excitement. Fluffy immediately changed this, throwing vicious guitar stabs and eclectic drumming into the mix. Rowsell almost entirely lost her shit here, before completely letting go during the upbeat She. By this point, the crowd had spent most of the show pushing so far forward that people were grabbing onto equipment for support. It almost felt like there was no end in sight, although the main set did eventually come to an end thanks to ultimate set highlight Moaning Lisa Smile. Its extremely grungy riff and bass combo pulsated throughout the Bitterzoet with effortless ease, before the chorus utilized extremely catchy vocal licks. Oddie’s screeching guitar melodies flittered in and out of consciousness throughout the track, before bassist Ellis decided to launch into the crowd before the song ended.
Once the band returned for an encore, everyone was well and truly ready for a massive ending, and they certainly got what they asked for. Early fan favourite Blush built up slowly, climaxing in a combination of dreamy, headbang-worthy instrumentals. “Are you happy now?” asked Rowsell during its first verse, making way for an instrumental build-up so gradual that it eventually swallowed you up completely. The whole show came to a truly triumphant end on Giant Peach, a track which Rowsell recently described as the result of lots of jamming and improvisation. This is extremely evident in its drawn-out instrumental opening and close, the latter of which encompassed an almost metal-sounding riff. As the band left the stage once more, it was very evident that they had succeeded in the first step of their nationwide domination. They’ve already got their homeland of the UK in the palms of their hands, and now it’s time for the band to do the same across the rest of the world. Are they getting close? Definitely. Are they gonna do it? Without a doubt.
Next year, Wolf Alice will return to Holland to play a massive show at Amsterdam’s Paradiso. Tickets for the show on 11 February can be bought from this link. You can also find more pictures from the show here.