Despite The Venue increasing its reputation as live music venue in recent months with some stunning bookings, the coup of landing current indie darlings Wolf Alice for an intimate ‘small venue’ performance was a major surprise.
It’s safe to say that with the current upward trajectory of the band shows in venues of this size will be few and far between in future. This gig was a testament to how Derby is stamping its own place on the UK live music circuit.
Recently, Wolf Alice’s Ellie Roswell has been vocal about falling for the joys of US hardcore punk, and how these two-minute stabs of pure punk aggression would influence their sound. The new incarnation of Wolf Alice that took to the stage in Derby was a very different beast to that witnessed before. There is a new spit and vitriol in Roswell’s delivery as these new influences take hold.
Now with shaven-heads guitarist Joff Oddie and bassist Theo Ellis also looked leaner and meaner than before, the whole performance less compromising and freer than in the past. New cut Yoo Fuk channelled this new punk passion perfectly as an expletive-laden blast of riot-grrl style, grunge rock.
But this new encompassing of punk is only part of the picture for a band that are now evolving into exceptional live prospect. The new songs aired from forthcoming album Visions of a Lifespan take the blend of indie, shoegaze and grunge of their debut and weave in krautrock, psychedelic and even stoner metal sounds producing a show that that ebbed and flowed through different ideas that never got boring.
Their old fan favourites were also given a new lease of life as the band performing with a confidence and tightness that is starting to set them apart. They are comfortable with their past but buoyed by the prospect of their future – one of increasing possibilities.
These possibilities came together on another new song Don’t Delete The Kisses which is a floating, ethereal largely electronic, dream-pop tune a million miles away from punk – more Cocteau Twins than Minor Threat. It was a beautiful rendition that shows the bands hidden depths. The purr of Roswell’s vocals here perfectly offset the screams and yelps of other numbers.
The real magnificence of Wolf Alice right now is how all these sounds and raw emotions are crushed into a pop framework. It is polished and the chaos is controlled, making them a rock band accessible for mass consumption.
Going back to the types of venues where they honed their craft is a nice acknowledgment of where they have come from and drawing a line under it as they move forward. With performances like this, new songs like this and their obvious potential to expand, Wolf Alice will never be unlikely to place venues this small ever again.
This is how bands should make a comeback.
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