Wolf Alice // O2 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester // 18.12.18
I made my way down to Manchester on a mad dash to see Wolf Alice play the O2 Victoria Warehouse. The band announced their plans to play three final gigs to conclude their Visions of a Life Tour, teasing to NME back in September that fans would be in for a few Christmas themed treats. We caught the tram from Central Manchester to the venue— it was a real adventure. Surrounded by a sea of leather jackets and band shirts, none of us knew where we were going and how we were going to get there. We traipsed through an industrial estate, laughing with other fans about how we were never going to get to the gig as we passed Old Trafford. That’s the beauty of Wolf Alice and their fans alike: the sense of acceptance and togetherness when you go to their gigs.
When we finally arrived at the venue, I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity of the fans. Just taking a look around, you could see the broad allure of Wolf Alice. From seasoned music followers who had come to support the band in their Mercury Prize victory, to younger fans there to have fun and soak up the buzzing atmosphere— there is something for everyone in Wolf Alice. But it wasn’t just the fans who were there to have fun; the band were all beaming and having a great time. Fans even saw some impressive on stage dance moves from bassist Theo Ellis.
To celebrate the special occasion, the band teamed up with Manchester based brewery, Seven Bro7hers, to launch their own Craft Lager. The lager, named Yuk Brew, is a pun on the song ‘Yuk Foo’, which the band opened their set with. It was a roaring success as the beer sold out before the second support band, Surfbort, had even started to play.
After catching Surfborf, a Brooklyn-based punk band who shocked the crowd with their raucous sound and sarcastic lyrics, fans were teased with old school punk rock classics like the Ramones’s ‘Sheena is a Punk Rocker’ and Iggy Pop’s ‘Lust for Life’. As Wolf Alice opened with ‘Yuk Foo’, sending the crowd absolutely wild, it struck me just how much of a massive transformation the band have been through.
In October 2017, I watched Wolf Alice play the Jazz Cafe in Camden, just a couple of weeks after the release of Visions of Life. Although just a 400 capacity venue, the raw talent of Wolf Alice was in clear sight, but at that point unpolished. The contrast was remarkable seeing them play at the complete opposite end of the tour. Wolf Alice managed not only to completely sell out the awesomely spacious venue (with its impressive 5000 capacity), but they absolutely owned the place! I felt a weird sense of pride. Wolf Alice have managed to do something truly quite remarkable: they have managed to captivate the masses and gain immense respect from critics, despite rock music being a less mainstream genre at the moment.
The overall flow of the gig was effortless; the 90 minute set passed by too quickly. Although Wolf Alice now play with increased confidence and conviction, their raw authenticity is still very much in sight. Goofy as always, bassist Theo Ellis Bassist addressed the crowd: “How are we all doing on the balcony…how are we all doing, on the right…” before losing his train of thought, “I’m sorry, I don’t usually do this… erm, how are we doing on the left!” Likewise, frontwoman Ellie Rowsell was as gorgeous and as sincere as ever, throwing flowers into the crowd as she played ‘Don’t Delete the Kisses’.
The gig culminated with a loud encore of ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’ and ‘Giant Peach’. Everyone went crazy as they soaked the atmosphere in the final moments of the gig. At the end of ‘Giant Peach’, the crowd were surprised with a huge eruption of white confetti, which created the illusion of snow as Wolf Alice walked off stage. White glittery snow fluttered to the ground and the lights went down. ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ came on the big speakers, and the crowd were divided for the first time as some stopped for a dance, whilst others turned to head home after an amazing gig.