British indie-rock royalty Wolf Alice hit up the Gorilla in Manchester for a special intimate show for War Child and the BRIT Awards. Cass Hyde writes:
As part of the legendary series of gigs raising money for War Child, hundreds of lucky fans from across the country made their way to Gorilla in Manchester to see an intimate, one-off performance from indie-rockers Wolf Alice.
Support for the evening came from London duo The Rhythm Method. At first glance, the band’s eccentric mix of 80s rap, 90s beats and sly, sarcastic, semi-politics lyrics may come across as a bad joke. Yet, their confidence and humour quickly won people over.
Joey and Rowan (the surnames are unknown) wear their influences on their sleeves. Madness, Dr Feelgood, Squeeze, to name a few. Yet, their combination of diverse influences create something exciting and new. Frontman Joey moves between pop culture references, ranging from Cherie Blair, George Best and Wetherspoons, whilst Rowan places cheesey-on-purpose piano chords underneath.
Their song “Party Politics” sums them up – half party band, half political statement. All brilliant!
Wolf Alice, meanwhile, have a special place in many people’s hearts. Yet, so much of the band’s appeal is to do with perspective. Wolf Alice are the kind of band that you would really love if, like most of the audience, you were about sixteen. This is not meant to be dismissive. With every heavy song, circle pits took over the floor. With every quiet song, there was near silence.
Yet, as people get older, their tastes changes. Young music fans start to move on to bands like Talking Heads, Radiohead, Nick Cave or Nina Simone. Something a bit sharper. Something a bit cleverer. Yet, the first band that you truly love is always special, but, after that, no love burns quite as brightly.
Wolf Alice cater to all this perfectly. But, outside of this group, others had a much more hostile reaction.
The band’s second song of the night was “Yuk Foo”, the lead single from their sophomore album. It was a song that the younger audience members lapped up with glee, but with sludgy guitar tones and lyrics like “I don’t give a shit (shit shit shit)”, others were less impressed. Some may have been thinking that they had a long night ahead of them.
Yet, following a 15-minute break to fit a busted guitar amp, Wolf Alice delivered a much better performance.
Songs such as “Moaning Lisa Smile” and “Bros” gave the show a much-needed boost, providing fast-paced, guitar-driven anthems for the audience to enjoy.
However, the set was also filled with many subtler moments. “Don’t Delete The Kisses” works as a pulsating, poppy love song with synth undertones. “Silk” is a slow rock ballad that transcends into something beautiful. Both “St Purple & Green” and “Blush” are able to merge delicate guitar work with deafening, shoegaze-lite noise.
The set had occasional weaker moments, with songs such as “Sadboy” and “Space and Time” being largely forgettable, but that wasn’t enough to hugely detract from the performance.
The highlight of the entire night was Wolf Alice’s final song, “Giant Peach”, with the entire crowd erupting into a giant mosh pit. During the climax of the song, lead singer, Ellie Rowsell, stood up on the barrier, leading to the crowd rise up to meet her. People were literally climbing over each other to get close to their indie hero. A genuinely beautiful sight.
Overall, Wolf Alice’s was a tale of two halves. Half the audience thought it was the best night f their lives. The other half enjoyed a guilty pleasure. Either way, everyone had a good time and it was all for a good cause. What’s not to like?
Written by Cass Hyde, photography by Sakura. To donate £3 to War Child, text SAFE to 70444.