Tonight, for their long sold-out show at the famous Glasgow Barrowland, Wolf Alice draw in a diverse crowd: stretching from a young teenage fandom barely allowed to attend the gig without supervision, all the way to a devoted older fan base who appreciate the undeniable musicality and originality of the London band. Both will find a mutual enjoyment over the four-piece’s characteristically great live show. The crowd is ecstatic and brimming with energy before Wolf Alice even appear. During the final song of support act Swim Deep a mosh pit breaks out in the centre of the crowd, only a sign of things to come from the typically excitable Barrowland crowd.
The anticipation builds over the next half-hour until the lights in the venue drop. As Wolf Alice emerge, the stage lights reveal only bassist Theo Ellis, while the rest of the band joins throughout the ‘Intro’, before launching into a cut from 2015’s debut album ‘My Love is Cool’: ‘Your Loves Whore.’ The band play right through to ‘Bros’ without interacting with the crowd until Ellis is handed a bottle of Buckfast from the side of the stage for a swig, exclaiming “Glasgow are you still with us?!”, before continuing to swig the fortified wine intermittently from a cup for the rest of the evening. The typical Buckfast drunk – high levels of energy due to the excessive amount of caffeine – is not lost on Theo, who becomes a tad more lucid in his movements as the show progresses – though not to say the glitter-adorning, Sid Vicious-channeling bassist wasn’t already seriously lucid.
The crowd interaction for the remainder of the show seems to come mostly through Ellis and occasionally drummer Joel Amey, while singer/guitarist Ellie Rowsell and guitarist Joff Oddie remain relatively quiet – though they don’t feel distant from the crowd, rather, content to speak through the strength of their music and live show. When one considers Rowsell and Oddie’s ‘twee’ acoustic folk roots, the sheer veracity and power of Wolf Alice’s current live show seems confusing to comprehend. Their mastery of feedback and screeching is a far cry from where one envisions their beginning. In this sense, their pure progression as musicians in a short space of time seems unfathomable, but adds to that sense that Wolf Alice are a truly great band that consumers of music are lucky to be graced with. They’ve worked tirelessly to present the world with something of quality and substance, and their skill isn’t a chance happening.
The freakout-breakdowns in ’90 Mile Beach’ – coupled with the strobing wall of fairy lights – communicate pure raw power. As the band seamlessly blend these sections between the coherent and melodic aspects of the songs, they come across as complete masters of their live craft. ‘Silk’ results in near twenty teenage fans in the centre circle of the crowd clambering on their friends shoulders to raise lighters and sway along to the slow-burning track. The security who had previously scorned anyone sitting on their friends shoulders take a backseat in this instance, aware that this was a moment not worth ruining – or one they realised they could not ruin, as the fervent vigour of Wolf Alice’s young Glasgow fandom had been established. Set closer and pre-album track ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’ draws the best reaction of the night, as the centre crowd descends in to a chaotic moshpit. As the song closes the band briefly leave the stage. They re-emerge to the standard Glasgow cries of “One more tune” and “Here we f***ing go”, before launching into the delicate ‘Turn to Dust’ – the first of three encore songs.
As penultimate track ‘Blush’ begins, a girl behind in the crowd screams, calls it her favourite song ever, and says it “brings joy to my heart.” The passion of the band’s fans is blatant throughout the night. From the older amongst the crowd decked out in their Wolf Alice merch, to the younger fans with glitter painted on their faces, the fans in Glasgow obviously feel a real and genuine connection to the music of this band. Nearly every song has someone raised on shoulders screaming the lyrics back at Rowsell. Ellis and Rowsell groove in unison for closing track and another crowd-favourite ‘Giant Peach’. As the track ends Ellis tells the crowd how grateful they are to be playing the Barrowlands, calling it a far cry from the last time they played in Glasgow – “to a crowd of 3 people who didn’t want to be there.” before proceeding to crowd-surf. Oddie sees this as his chance to get his fill of Ellis’ Buckfast while the latter is offstage: taking his victory swig as the band thank the Barrowland crowd and vacate the stage.
Wolf Alice will continue their ‘My Love is Cool’ tour until September with a rare night off from their hectic show schedule. They will play the US, Canada, Norway, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Czech Republic, Poland and Austria throughout the remainder of 2016.
This Wolf Alice article was written by Adam Skirving, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Zoe Anderson