North-London indie rock quartet, Wolf Alice, released their critically acclaimed sophomore album Visions Of A Life last fall. Since unleashing the album the band has been logging some serious touring mileage, visiting Japan, playing shows across Europe, and ending the year with a run through North America. Now after beginning 2018 back on the road with more European dates and an excursion through New Zealand and Australia, Wolf Alice have returned to the US for a Spring headline tour that will take the band across the country, culminating in a stretch of dates supporting Queens Of The Stone Age, before ending with an appearance at Governors Ball festival in New York City. We managed to catch the band on their swing through Southeast, when they stopped at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro NC.
Opening the evening and firing up the Monday night crowd were fellow Londoners, The Big Pink. The stage was cloaked in smoke as the electronic rockers, led by frontman and guitarist Robbie Furze, played a condensed but powerful set of anthemic hook-laden tunes propelled forward by the low end of Nicole Emery on bass and the lumbering beats of Bradford Lee Conroy on drums. The trio remained in shadow and silhouette for the majority of their set, creating an otherworldly vibe that enabled the audience to focus less on the performance, and connect more with the music including “Dominos” and the set ending “Velvet” which received the loudest cheers.
As the lights dropped for Wolf Alice, the crowd erupted. The cheering and screams faded into the shoegazey opening song “Heavenward” followed by the punky turmoil of “Yuk Foo,” emulating the one-two punch that opens Visions Of A Life. Lead singer and guitarist Ellie Rowsell was a charismatic and entrancing presence who exuded a discernible warmth whether playing and roaring through crowd favorites like the powerful building stop-start of “You’re a Germ,” or setting aside her guitar and picking up the microphone to showcase the ethereal side of her vocals as she delivered a dialed-back and emotive “Don’t Delete the Kisses.” Ellie was surrounded by the other members of Wolf Alice, including co-founder and lead guitarist Joff Oddie, bassist Theo Ellis and drummer Joel Amey, who performed as a tight cohesive unit with a ceaseless energy. They provided the sonic backdrop to a set that found a satisfying balance between newer songs from Visions Of A Life, and fan favorites from their debut album and earlier EPs. The energy and response from the crowd seemed to ratchet up a level with each new song played, with “Silk,” which appeared on the T2: Trainspotting soundtrack, “Formidable Cool,” and “Moaning Lisa Smile” especially resonating. They closed out and brought down the house with a rowdy romp through their early single, “Fluffy,” before returning for a double encore of “Blush,” followed by a rapturous take on “Giant Peach,” which saw Ellie blur the boundary between band and audience as she stepped off stage and out into the arms of the first few rows of fans.
Wolf Alice are a formidable live act who take the studio versions of their songs and elevate them with a ferocious intensity while highlighting their innate theatricality. They truly are a band who leave it all on the stage!
Wolf Alice + The Big Pink @ Cats Cradle – April 16th 2018