Wolf Alice – O2 Apollo, Manchester – 09/11/17

The Apollo’s swimming with teenage fervour tonight – and many of those attendees probably don’t realise that it wasn’t all that long ago that new British guitar-wielding bands would semi-regularly make it to Apollo-headlining status within a few years. But other than Royal Blood, it’s hard to come up with too many others in this generation that have done the same. Too many other good ones, that is.

Wolf Alice’s Manchester gig arrives some two months after the release of second album ‘Visions of a Life’, and the night is more or less evenly split between that and debut, ‘My Love Is Cool’. The two albums aren’t radically different, allowing the set to alternate between them freely and seamlessly, but both include sharp changes in pace and mood. It means in theory that Wolf Alice can build natural highs and lows into the show – although tonight, Manchester’s  only really interested in highs.

The standing section swirls as if one massive sea, ebbing and flowing like the evening tide when the slower songs take hold – opener ‘Heavenward’, ‘Silk’ and ‘Planet Hunter’ standing out amongst them. But it also erupts into choppy waters at the drop of a hat – or indeed, a chunky power chord. When the provocative ‘Yuk Foo’ strikes early on, the audience starts colliding, getting more and more excited, as the temperature almost deviously increases until the whole room is at boiling point.

Of course, tracks like ‘You’re A Germ’ and ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’ were created specifically to be played in front of such crowds, as close as Wolf Alice get to golden oldies, their lyrics thrown straight back onto the stage as soon as they’re set free from Ellie Rowsell’s mouth. Joff Oddie’s poor fingers have been through a lot too over these last few years, but they battle on bravely, razoring up and down his fretboard to spark out jolts of electrocuting frenzy. Everyone’s certainly jumping as though they’ve been shocked.

The curtain falls at the climax to ‘Fluffy’ – and from the crowds reaction, the end has come several hours early. But it isn’t really the end; there’s two songs remaining, to nobody’s surprise. The first is a treat for long-term fans in the form of ‘Blush’, the title track from Wolf Alice’s 2013 debut EP, and it gives those in the know the chance to show off their completism. The perfect ending is ‘Giant Peach’, the quartet’s most fulsome, defiant and bellowing explosion of anger to date. Who knows what the future holds for Wolf Alice – but for now, they’re successfully cementing themselves as the one of the most visible, popular and formidable British guitar bands of their generation.

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