Wolf Alice – Mandela Hall, Belfast 4th March 2016

Wolf Alice – Mandela Hall, Belfast 4th March 2016


There’s so much justified hype surrounding Wolf Alice that anticipation for this sold out gig has been building for months. Recent winners of two NME Awards, Mercury and Brit Award nominations – not to mention being one of the fastest rising bands of 2015 – it is easy to see why the group are going places.

Hailing from North London, they have built a following from constant touring and developed a tight live show. On Friday night they simply rocked Belfast’s Mandela Hall. ‘Bros’, ‘Freazy’ and ‘Silk’ are standout moments with punters jumping up and down singing back every word. It’s great to see a group act as if they know they are in the middle of cracking something big having worked hard for the past four years to become better musicians and live entertainers. The tangible excitement had grown in the build up to the gig during the support Spies who end on a catchy number – complete with singing drummer. It isn’t until the main act, though, that the crowd in the bar next door disperse to take up their viewing spots for the show they’d paid to see.

Guitarist Joff Oddie walks onto the stage first to start up some noisy feedback with his instrument. He’s swiftly followed by the rest of the band as they complete some rackety intro before fan favourite ‘You’re A Germ’. Built on the basis of two guitarists and a solid rhythm section the band blend the right amount of grunge with folk and melodic melodies. “We’re really happy to be here,” states singer guitar player Ellie Rowsell after a few tunes. Along with the aforementioned tracks, ‘Your Love’s Whore’ and ‘Lisbon’ please everyone no end too.

Rowsell is mesmerising to watch. Wearing a black dress to suit her black telecaster guitar, she sways in sync to the music with bassist Theo, who does his best to garner crowd reaction in vocally pulling faces and raising his arms clapping between playing. Drummer Joel sings backing vocals all night before Theo asks the lighting man to “turn him into a god” for his solo number ‘Swallowtail’. The four finish the set proper on ‘Moaning Lisa Smile‘.

But the crowd want more, so there is a three song encore. One of the tracks they messed up a bit due to something being funny… Didn’t quite catch what they were laughing about but they were enjoying themselves none-the-less, dripping with sweat. The sound was incredible all night: to have the Mercury-nominated My Love Is Cool coming out live through the venue’s Clair Brothers PA System – one of only a few in Europe- felt pretty special. Ellie held her own and her voice was flawless throughout the set, while the rest of the band were completely tight unlike when they began in their early years. It will be interesting to see if they can make another album as good as their debut; but they’re certainly heading in the right direction. Also, Ellie Rowsell; marry me?

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