Why Wolf Alice’s championing of young female guitar heroes is essential

"There are many aspects of life that need more women in them and rock’n’roll is certainly one."

There are many reasons why Wolf Alice are totally, brilliantly great. You know the obvious ones, of course you do. First there are the tunes, the crunchy riffs, epic choruses and the swooshing, soaring shoegazey spin-outs that make your heart jump into your mouth and sit there stunned until it gets washed back down with another wave of feedback so glittery you could whack it in a pot and sell it at Claire’s Accessories.

Then there’s the enviable gang mentality the four members of the group seem to have. They are the kind of cool kids who spent too long at the local pool hall talking to nobody else but each other, developing their own language, sharing swigs from the same bottle of corner- shop vodka until they decided to replace their roll-ups for guitars and become London’s best rock band since The Libertines. Added to that is their politics and their outspoken support of causes they care about: Corbyn’s Labour, CND, playing at this summer’s Tories Out demo and generally being on the right side of history.

Yet their recent UK tour proved them to be great for another reason entirely. Ahead of their Glasgow gig, singer Ellie Rowsell fired off a simple but powerful tweet: “Any gals wanna play my guitar part in Moaning Lisa Smile at the Barrowlands tomo so I can stomp around on stage? Serious question”.


What was important wasn’t Ellie’s commitment to rocking out, but her sisterly shout-out to the ‘gals’. There are many aspects of life that need more women in them and rock’n’roll is certainly one. Female guitar heroes don’t come around often, and we all know that’s not because women can’t play guitar, but because they aren’t encouraged to. So when Ellie specifically asked for a girl to come up – well, it was kind of incredible. She did the same thing ahead of the band’s London show. I was down the front when a 15-year-old called Jade shuffled onto the Ally Pally stage, slung on Ellie’s guitar and proceeded to slay both the song and the crowd, much to the band’s delight.

You can talk as much as you like about how it’s a travesty that not enough young women are told they can become rock stars, but nothing quite compares to them being invited up onstage in front of a crowd of 10,000 rabid fans and acting out that fantasy for real. Jade was awesome but there are probably thousands of other Jades across the UK, playing in their bedrooms with their Wolf Alice records cranked up as high as they can go. Here’s hoping they’ll get the chance to play on a massive stage one day, too.