“Glastonbury, how is everyone feeling?” roars Theo Ellis once Wolf Alice have settled into their Pyramid Stage set at Glastonbury 2022. “We nearly didn’t make it, but we couldn’t be happier to be here.” The bassist is, of course, referring to the band’s travel saga that saw them stranded in Los Angeles after a cancelled flight and tweeting to ask if anyone had a connection for a private jet.
They might have got to Worthy Farm by the skin of their teeth, but there’s no sign of jet lag or travel stress hampering their performance. From the rowdy first notes of set opener ‘Smile’, the four-piece are on phenomenal form, tearing through the song like a band at the peak of their powers. “Ahhh!” frontwoman Ellie Rowsell screams as the track comes to an end, exorcising all the tension of the last 48 hours in one big yell. “You have no idea!”
Watching Wolf Alice live and living up to the occasion of sets that increase in status year-on-year is always a gift, but the will-they-or-won’t-they nature of today’s performance only makes that feeling stronger. Rowsell is the definition of a rock icon as she drops to the ground in ‘Formidable Cool’, rocks back on her heels and bellows in a goosebump-inducing howl: “But that’s all he fucking did / When he fucked you on the floor.” ‘Bros’ is giddier than ever, the mood of the crowd amped up by Ellis asking beforehand: “Should we catch a bit of flavour on a Friday? Should we jump around for three minutes?”
“That’s what it’s all about – Glastonbury on a Friday night,” the bassist cheers afterwards, and he and his bandmates continue to construct the perfect set to get the whole of the festival into the mood for a feral night out. Along the way, though, they sprinkle tender moments into proceedings, giving emotional whiplash as they go from drumming up big sentiments during the rain-soaked stomping crescendo of ‘How Can I Make It OK?’ to the snarling, screeching ‘Play The Greatest Hits’, introduced by Rowsell as being “about going out and getting shitfaced”.
Throughout their hour on the Pyramid, Wolf Alice show time and again how much they’ve grown into the role of one of the biggest and best bands in the country. It’s visible in the way they add to some songs, including a stunning ‘Delicious Things’, with string players, and in the little details of Rowsell’s performance, like when she coolly delivers a verse in ‘Giant Peach’, steps back from the microphone and surveys the throng of people before them, eyes burning with attitude and confidence.
As the poignant piano melody of ‘The Last Man On Earth’ rings out over the PA, the singer takes a perch on the edge of the stage and the sound of the audience drops to a hush, quelled by the heart-rending song. After its final notes have rung out, the volume rises again with passionate cheers and a teary Rowsell is enveloped in guitarist Joff Oddie’s arms.
“We didn’t know if we were gonna make it here so this is very emotional and surreal,” she tells us, disbelief ringing through her voice. ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’ brings things to a glittering, glorious close – a reminder of what we could have missed had Wolf Alice not made it to Worthy Farm and a beautiful cap on a masterful performance from a band who seem ready to level up to even bigger peaks come next festival season.
Wolf Alice played:
‘You’re A Germ’
‘Lipstick On The Glass’
‘Safe From Heartbreak (if you never fall in love)’
‘How Can I Make It OK?’
‘The Last Man On Earth’
‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’