The new darlings of the UK indie scene have been like a runaway train of success these past 12 months and Getintothis’ Tom Konstantynowicz sees no sign of it slowing down.
Right from the off, security are shining torches into the crowd telling people to get down from shoulders at this late addition to Wolf Alice’s UK tour at Liverpool’s Arts Club. The energy from Theo Ellis, Joff Oddie, Joel Amey and Ellie Rowsell is infectious – the past year has seen them scoop as many awards for their boisterous live show as for their number two charting, Mercury nominated debut album.
Rowsell is the definition of light and shade, dressed in a grungy white tee with catwalk ready makeup and hair, she screams venom on You’re A Germ then radiates vulnerability and delicacy on Turn To Dust – the opener on smash record My Love Is Cool – whose tracks make up most of the set and whose artwork forms the backdrop to the stage.
You know you’ve made it when your own album artwork forms the stage setup, and Wolf Alice have certainly made it now. Originating in the dark depths of online lonely hearts ads for desperate musicians, and hanging out in the indie wasteland of Camden long after its nineties / early noughties heyday, not many would have predicted these four musical misfits would become the coolest kids in town.
Tonight, they are the hottest ticket seen in Liverpool for some time, quite literally – it’s boiling inside, almost unbearably so. Turn up late and you’d find yourself peering around one of the sweat-soaked walls at the top of the steps that make up the amphitheatre-esque Arts Club main room. Turn up late and you’d also have missed sets from Bloody Knees and Swim Deep, the latter, sometimes cast in the shadow of fellow Brummie scenesters Peace, show that with the tunes from latest LP Mothers they can finally shed that weight.
The audience is a right old pick and mix, a testimony to Wolf Alice being perhaps the most unpigeonholeable band around. There’s the die hard indie kids at the front who sing every major hook and bounce around, limbs flailing, to each euphoric instrumental, then there’s the slightly older ones, stood further back on the steps, appreciating the 90s shoegaze and grunge elements as well as the floatier charms, echoing bands like The xx and Cocteau Twins.
The set is full pelt, with just enough time for bassist Ellis to proclaim how good it is to be back in Liverpool after so long – just under two years to be precise, in this very same venue as part of Sound City 2014. Smashing through Moaning Lisa Smile, She and 2013 debut single Fluffy back-to-back, there’s a sense of escapism and rebellion that, when you think about it, has been missing from the UK alternative scene for at least a decade.
That’s why Rowsell and co are so vital, those aforementioned youngsters at the front have probably never had it so good. This is a band with universal appeal but also one that belongs to a new generation of gig goers.
Named after a short story about a child raised by wolves, on a journey to discover her own identity, Wolf Alice have found their place in society and during the closing track of the encore, Giant Peach, we think a few down by the barrier may have found theirs, too.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Tom Adam