zondag 5 november 2017

Wolf Alice live. Melkweg Amsterdam, Friday 3 November 2017

Photo: Wo.
Was this one of these legendary shows that years onwards one can point to as being pivotal in a band's career? I can't tell as yet of course, but fact is I saw something happening between audience and band during the show that was fairly unique. A sort of mutual understanding and admiration: something special is happening here and we all know it.

Something made me want to be at this show. A great second record that proved a giant step forward and not a (weaker) rehash of a fine debut record and a vibe I sort of felt within me. My expectations were so high that during the first two, three songs I was totally disappointed. The music sounded flat, the audience hardly responded to that fine punk song 'Yuk'. Is this it?, I was asking myself.

From that exact moment things started to change. The band stepped up its efforts. Bass player Theo Ellis stepped forward and started to waive his arms high, like shouting out "come on, you guys! We are going to give it our whole, so join in". The response was instantaneous. There was no looking back. With every song the audience was responding louder, started jumping up and down, spontaneous handclapping and sing-along moments. I found myself enthralled and encapsulated by Wolf Alice's music. With each further song I found myself thinking: 'Don't let this be the last one'. That moment came inevitably of course.

Photo: Wo.
What I was afraid of most up front was that Ellie Rowsell's voice would not hold up live. It is rather thin in sound. There were no worries there. She was always on top of things. Playing guitar with her thin fingers like any rock chick I've ever seen before. Behind her was a permanent beat by drummer Joel Amey, who came up with inventive rhythms throughout the show, adding to the atmosphere Wolf Alice creates in no small way.

The other attraction of the band is the guitar of Joff Oddie. It's almost like the guitar plays him instead of the normal proceedings concerning guitar players. The instrument went places it wasn't supposed to go, surprising its player it seemed every once in a while. Oddie is one of those players who lays down sonic storms, strange effects and whatever it takes to get the effect needed. The two are one making it nearly indistinguishable who does what. A treat to watch.

If something became clear to me, it is that Wolf Alice was not just playing a show. This is a band on a mission. Everything has to go for the greater goal. The band is ready for greater things. The songs and the instruments are so ingrained that the individual members can all perform next to playing. That made it so surprising that something in the audience made singer Ellie Rowsell laugh and could not stop so she just skipped a part of the song, while playing here guitar laughing. It showed that there is still a human side to Wolf Alice.

Photo: Wo.
The dynamics in the show were perfect. The accents within songs were executed perfectly. It didn't really matter whether the band rocked, played a punked up song, a slower one or songs with a more modern beat like 'Sadboy' or 'Visions Of A Life', whether older or new. Wolf Alice laid down its songs with dedication and love for its work. There was a general mood of excitement both on stage and in the audience of a nature that I have not encountered often.

Friday 3 November 2017. Time will tell whether this was an evening of legends. Like U2 or UB40 shows when I was much younger in the Countdown studio. There's only one doubt: where were the youths? The average age must have been well over 30 from where I was standing. For the rest, what a great band Wolf Alice is. It lived up well above my expectations. It was so good. To take something by storm? Well, I watched it happen (to me).


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