Wolf Alice

Guild of Students, Liverpool, 22 February 2022

Words by Gary Lambert, and Photos by Brian Sayle

Are Wolf Alice the best British band right now? The Brits seemed to think so, and after watching their performance at Liverpool’s Guild of Students, I would probably agree with them. And this is not coming from the perspective of a fan. I actually didn’t enjoy Blue Weekend, and even after loving their show I’m no more inclined to stick on one of their albums to listen to, but my taste does not preclude me from thinking they are an incredible band with a live show which is matched in intensity by its beauty. And I don’t mean because they are good looking people with a pleasing stage aesthetic, but the sounds they crafted on stage were beautiful. So beautiful that I plonked myself down on a seat in the corner and sounded like Meg Ryan in a diner as the band delicately produced so many ohs, ahs and fucking hells from me. The wild combination of delicacy and industrialised power that Wolf Alice are able to make on stage is witchcraft.

Support act Matt Maltese offered a far more consistent approach to sound with his very delicate set, but it inconsistently hit in the room. The fans at the front roared their approval of his work which continuously reminded me of Radiohead’s No Surprises, but at the back of the room there was no connection at all. Disappointingly though, I felt that there was no effort from the stage to actually connect with the room, but rather go through the motions to complete the set, so anybody unfamiliar with his work wasn’t going to be won over. It was all sadly forgettable and felt like a bit of a missed opportunity. Yes, he played piano and sung nicely, but there was neither intensity nor any attempt to demand the audience’s attention. You don’t need to be a rock cliche to have a good live act, but you do need to entertain.

Entertainment is something that Wolf Alice provide in bucketloads. From their thunderous, strobe-laden intro that instantly created a feeling in my stomach that I was about to watch one of the best bands in the country (it was everything that followed which made me certain they’re the best). When the band drop their tempo down at times for their anthem, textured slower numbers it becomes almost unfair at how talented they are. These aren’t simple structured toe-tappers either. The sound is complex and precise, but the effect is breathtaking. And the harmonies too. It’s all so special.

The support given by Wolf Alice‘s fanbase was wonderful too. I really felt a sense of everybody uniting to make sure the band knew how much they were loved. It wasn’t just a case of cheering because they had been entertained. I exclude from this however the person who got their friend to video them turning up late for the show so they could rush in, turn to the camera and scream to show how excited Wolf Alice made them, and then walked straight to the bar. To them, I roll my eyes.

This show from Wolf Alice was truly one of the best I’ve ever seen. Beautiful.

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    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

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