Wolf Alice At The Olympia Theatre – Review
Wolf Alice at The Olympia Theatre | 5 March 2016. Photo: Wolf Alice performing at The Olympia Theatre as support to The 1975
Wolf Alice are a band impossible to define by genre. Their stellar performance tonight at The Olympia proving their ability to swerve from indie shoe gazing pop purity to grunge tinged aggression before swirling towards delicate dreamlike folk. Yes, all this and more in one hour and six minutes of a set list that feels more like a greatest hits gig than a debut album tour.
Formed five years ago, Wolf Alice are no overnight success. This Camden quartet evolved from an acoustic duo named after a contemporary alternative fairy tale based on Little Red Riding Hood. Watching dainty frontwoman Ellie Roswell onstage, she amplifies the strong female characters typified in the writing of Angela Carter, the author of Wolf-Alice. Sultry in silk and lace, her strategically ripped tights and Dr. Martens style up her inner rock chick. Do not be fooled, boys and girls, for when she sings a powerhouse of pure indie vocals settles like fine fairy dust before getting shredded by menacing guitars and loaded drums. The essence evident straight away in ‘You’re a Germ’, angst levels peaking at the numbered screeching chorus.
Dreamy and floaty textures open up ‘Your Loves Whore’, a delicate tip toe through the track shoe gazing as it goes. A whiff of The Sundays permeates as another early single ‘Bros’ endures with ominous ethereal tones wrapping Ellie’s vulnerable vocal in a perfect indie pop haze. ‘Lisbon’ starts out with a girly hue before ascending into a full throttle guitar thrash. The soft-loud-soft then very loud approach rips into a proper metal fury at the end. Veering back into softer territory ‘Silk’ with its accusatory whispering lyrics of unrequited love unfolds into the venue. Orchestral overtones accompany the quirky, ghostly dreamlike folk. It has the resonance of a Florence Welch composition. Hidden track ‘The Wonderwhy’ from My Love Is Cool is a rare treat, though not that well known, the crowd love it. The delicate melody melted into a wall of guitars at the end. Originally a bedroom demo, it’s far from that right now.
Drummer Joel Amey takes over the mic for ‘Swallowtail’ turning the tone of the gig into a woozy, swooning dizzy Summer daydream. The fragile soundscape of this heartfelt ballad morphs into an unexpected metal fest, stretched out a whole lot longer than the album version.
The unpredictability continues with the snarling juggernaut that is ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’. A massive assault of guitars, huge bass reverberates with volume overloads. Echoing chorus, relentless drums punctuate throughout before a somewhat abrupt finish to the main set.
Bewitching, ghostly vocals announce ‘Turn to Dust’ as the first track of the encore. It’s about as English and folky as you can get. Relaxed almost psychedelic riffs providing pretty packaging. It’s almost too quiet, but not for long. ‘Blush’ opens with shushed and hushed vocals. Expecting a minimal, gently toned tune to endure as per the album, the band rev up their guitars to exaggerate and embellish the track. ‘Giant Peach’ closes the show. A supersonic monster of overloaded riffs, it smashes into a massive thundering train wreck of Muse proportions. Taking the moshing crowd with it, Wolf Alice defined their place, if not their genre tonight.
Review by Ciara Sheahan