Ahead of the release of their debut album My Love Is Cool in June, London’s alt-grunge Wolf Alice have brought a set packed with new material and the old fan favourites to a sold-out show at Birmingham’s Institute Library.
Appearing to channel Ian Curtis’ stage presence as singer James Cox throws himself round the stage; Crows open the evening with a darker side to rock. Single ‘Silver Tongues’ stands out with its power-driven vocals that echo gloominess, but with volume switches turned as high as possible and a hint of psych, there’s still a glimmer of hope. Next up are The Magic Gang, who as soon as they step on stage are adorned with cries of “I love you” from the crowd. Catchy pop hooks kick off the set in ‘You Don’t Want Me’, triggering the crowd to bounce along which shows no signs of ceasing right up until the end of ‘No Fun’.
Their slacker-pop may seem a bit samey at times, but tracks like ‘Shallow’ have that little bit extra which gives them a special edge in their live sets. Wolf Alice don’t spare any time with warming up or introductions as straightaway they pack a punch with ‘Fluffy’. High on energy, the crowd break out into pits following the brazen melodies and powering drums that lead on into ‘She’. Even when things slow down a notch with ’90 Mile Beach’ and ‘Blush’, frontwoman Ellie Rowsell’s sweet yet harrowing vocals join with the gentle, unfolding riffs to calm everyone down a bit before being hit by the ‘Storm’, returning loud-mouthed riffs and pushy drums.
From being called legends by bassist Theo Ellis to Rowsell shouting “Birmingham! There must be something in the water here; you guys are always so much fun!”, the crowd never disappoint as even with the unreleased and more delicate ‘Soapy Water’, there’s still enough energy to get the crowd moving and people crowd surfing on top. Switching seamlessly between brash, angst-powered riffs and delicate ballads is what Wolf Alice do best. Lining up ‘Bros’ against ‘Blush’ keeps momentum up high right up until the ending note of ‘Blush’, leaving most swaying along there’s still the one-off pit and crowd surfer not letting the side down.