After reinforcing themselves as festival headliners over the summer and dazzling in the upper echelons of main stage bills, over the last week Wolf Alice have been taking things back to humbler rooms. As part of the Music Venue Trust’s Revive Live campaign they’ve been travelling small venues, and tonight they cap their latest run of UK shows with two performances at Kingston-Upon-Thames’ Pryzm nightclub.
The latter set (a classic boozy rock show after an alcohol-free, under-18s matinee) feels like a rare treat. It presents a performance that is utterly spellbinding, made all the more special for being able to witness it in such close quarters. The setlist is a healthy mix of new and old, starting full throttle with ‘Blue Weekend’’s riotous rock of ‘Smile’, before dipping into quintessential Wolf Al sing-along ‘Bros’.
What’s impressive is how seamlessly the band shift gears, segueing from tender vulnerability to teeth-baring riffs without missing a beat. ‘Delicious Things’, one of the soaring standout tracks from their recent third album, is nothing short of magical, its gliding melodies swooping around the room with dizzying effect. On ‘Visions Of A Life’’s ‘Formidable Cool’, frontwoman Ellie Rowsell transforms into a snarling rock god, howling “But that’s all he fucking did / When he fucked you on the floor” with guttural intensity.
An emotional ‘Safe From Heartbreak (If You Never Fall In Love)’ is only made more stunning by the whole venue singing along in unison. “Tell you what, I’m not safe from heartbreak cos I just fell in love with Ryan Malcolm on keyboards,” bassist Theo Ellis quips, simultaneously adding some levity to the moment and introducing the former Superfood member into the live fold.
“Let’s go mental,” guitarist Joff Oddie instructs before the punk thrash of ‘Play The Greatest Hits’ and the audience oblige, the crowded floor space turned into a throng of bouncing bodies. After a ferocious ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’, it’s time to wind things down – first with ‘The Last Man On Earth’, elevated to even more beautiful new heights by Malcolm’s rippling melodies. Finally, ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’ brings a too-short-but-very sweet set to a close, the icicle-like chandelier cascading towards the centre of the room acting as an abstract mirror-ball, spinning and sparkling as Rowsell unfurls the swooning love story beneath. It’s a gorgeous end to a phenomenal night that could only be made better if it lasted for longer.
Wolf Alice played:
‘Lipstick On The Glass’
‘Safe From Heartbreak (If You Never Fall In Love)’
‘How Can I Make It OK’
‘Play The Greatest Hits’
‘Moaning Lisa Smile’
‘The Last Man On Earth’
‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’