XOYO – 3rd October
Wolf Alice included this date on their list of in-store shows and although it’s in association with Rough Trade, it was never going to be a low-key occasion. Whereas the release of My Love Is Cool was accompanied by a performance just beyond the racks of CDs and vinyl at Rough Trade East, its successor Visions Of A Life is afforded the industrial, windowless confines of the basement of Shoreditch’s XOYO. They’ve made a few stop-offs in record shops over the weekend, played a tiny special gig at Camden’s Hawley Arms on Monday night, and toured some lesser visited towns and cities back in August, but this is the return of Britain’s band of the moment to a substantial audience in their hometown.
With a slicked back mullet amplifying her look that’s steadily becoming iconic, Ellie Rowsell fronts Wolf Alice with more confidence and charisma than ever before. At one point during ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’ – an evocative, heartache-fuelled highlight – she stops the band. “I really like this song,” she states, reluctant to play on until a technical hitch is rectified. It’s not a diva moment by any means whatsoever; it only reinforces her and the group’s commitment to their craft. An album launch event like this could easily pan out as little more than a bit of fun where such hiccups are just brushed aside. Not with Wolf Alice. It’s a show like any other they’ve ever played, and the precision and perfection with which it’s all executed only makes it all the more enjoyable an experience for everyone in attendance – even if the venue’s obstructive pillars rather restrict the sightlines to an act that it seems everyone wants to catch a glimpse of.
Lead single ‘Yuk Foo’ – a breathless, unhinged two minutes that revolve around Rowsell’s venomously expelled snarl-shrieks of “You bore me / You bore me to death” – features, as does the poignant shoegaze of ‘Heavenward’, which precedes ‘Yuk Foo’ as the opening song of the set exactly as it does the record, ushering in the new Wolf Alice era in otherworldly fashion. ‘Formidable Cool’ is another ferocious rager, ‘Beautifully Unconventional’ adds a groove-filled fun factor in a not entirely dissimilar way to My Love Is Cool’s ‘Freazy’, and the epic, three-chapter title track feels like something of a bolder, darker second coming of the same album’s ‘The Wonderwhy’. With classic fan favourites ‘You’re A Germ’, ‘Bros’ and ‘Giant Peach’ thrown in for good measure, it’s an assured showcase of the best of both phases of their career so far.
Photos by Paul Hudson.
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