Twelve months ago, Wolf Alice played on the Festival Republic stage, the fiercest they’d been at that point, but still lacking that killer confidence that could really convince any doubters that they were the real deal and in it for the long haul. Then, they had a cover of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’ in their set as a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, just in case the likes of ‘She’ and ‘Blush’ failed to sway the audiences in front of them.
One year later, and they’re almost a completely different band. After relentlessly touring the UK, US, Australia and more, their confidence has grown to monstrous levels. Where once singer and guitarist Ellie Rowsell looked petrified behind the microphone, now she looks completely in her element. During their performance on the NME/BBC Radio 1 stage at Reading – their second show of the day following a secret set on the BBC Introducing stage – she was doing windmills with her hair, screaming into the mic between songs and closing it all by running along the barrier hugging her adoring fans, one of whom was waving a cut out picture of Ellie’s face on a stick.
Their set, too, is tailor made for maximum festival fun. Last week, Ellie told NME the band were going to make sure it was “vibe-y” and full of only their most “high energy, fast and loud songs.” That plan kicked into action with a furious ‘Fluffy’, soared through a menacing ‘You’re A Germ’ and ended on ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’, inspiring a huge, passionate singalong to top an already incredible set. In between, there were slower tracks – but mostly taken from Wolf Alice’s past EPs rather than their debut LP ‘My Love Is Cool’, only released in June. It was a smart move – while the likes of ‘Silk’ and ‘Swallowtail’ might have gone down brilliantly, everyone in the tent was already familiar with ‘Blush’ and ’90 Mile Beach’, turning them into swaying, emotional anthems.
At various points of the set, bassist Theo Ellis and drummer Joel Amey both declared the set to be “a dream come true”, and the band looked like they were having the time of their lives on stage. Today, anyone who ever doubted them will have been well and truly silenced. Wolf Alice have become the perfect festival band and, with a massive September tour including a sold out Brixton date looming on the horizon, don’t expect their newfound power to wane anytime soon.