The morning after...

Wolf Alice, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London

3rd April 2015

Few things will top Wolf Alice’s Shepherd’s Bush triumph, but the best is yet to come.

With Wolf Alice, for every triumph there’s another in the waiting room. Three years have passed since they started playing pub venues, swiftly moving on to the big league. In the last twelve months, they’ve sold out Scala, played the O2 Arena, and won over America via a quick pit-stop at Haim’s house. And yet even though tonight’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire headline tops these tenfold, there can be no doubt that more awaits. On the cusp of releasing a remarkable debut that’ll convince more than just the current loyalists, they’ve barely played the ace in their hand.

Not that this distracts from the first thing on their agenda. Backstage, they look pale and terrified. Bassist Theo Ellis says he “can’t eat”, frontwoman Ellie Rowsell is the picture of fear, and drummer Joel Amey clearly needs a hug. They all express doubts about whether they can pull off a venue like Shepherd’s Bush. Crowds have been adoring so far on this UK tour, but can that be a gauge for how well they actually play? By this point, you’d think nothing would faze them. But together they admit that this is the most scared they’ve ever been.

A few hours later and they've played one of the shows of their lives. On paper Wolf Alice are a brilliant, unpredictable bunch. But they all make claims of wanting to be a "proper band" - technically perfect, meticulous. New songs 'The Wonderwhy' and 'Soapy Water' are tightly-wound, complex creatures, but they work in this setting. Then there's current heavyweights 'Moaning Lisa Smile' and 'She', beefed up beyond their former selves. Forget the mass of flailing arms and sea of confetti - Wolf Alice thrive on fandom, but they're also faultless tonight. Rowsell holds a crowd like never before. Joff Oddie has every intention of cracking the ceilings with his 'Giant Peach' guitar-work. By the time an encore comes round, fears give way to celebratory shrieks and beaming smiles. They had nothing to worry about.

This is a band on the rise - there's no current trajectory more exciting than theirs - but they don't half put in the work for each and every level up. If the impossible happens - they hit a wall and stop progressing, Joel threatening to start a solo "beats project" - they could always just ask supporting cast The Magic Gang to lend a hook, or topless fiends Bloody Knees for a shot of adrenaline. Wolf Alice are well and truly leading a pack. Surrounding bands are taking note. For every bit of work ethic and desire to go one step further, others are applying the same to their own first steps. It'll be hard to ever render a show like tonight some blip on the radar, but given what's next - bigger gigs, this year's festivals, a special album and a bunch of bands following their every move - the best is yet to come.

Wolf Alice, Shepherd's Bush Empire, London Wolf Alice, Shepherd's Bush Empire, London Wolf Alice, Shepherd's Bush Empire, London

Photos: Sarah Louise Bennett & Emma Swann

Tags: Wolf Alice, Reviews, Live Reviews

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