One year, four months and18 days since I was last at an actual concert. Probably the biggest gap in between shows since I lost my live rock concert cherry to Mansun back in 1997. Tonight, in a sweltering Bournemouth, Wolf Alice had beamed down to save myself and 18 hundred anxious fans from watching another online show.
Bournemouth’s O2 Academy was the venue to host Wolf Alice’s warm-up show for their headline performance at this weekends’ Latitude festival. After some extensive queuing due to everyone needing proof of either being double vaccinated or a negative Covid test, I made it just in time for the London quartet to hit the stage. Surrounded by a mix of masked and unmasked revelers, there was a few anxious members of the audience who were rather vocal regarding people being in their vicinity. However, as soon as the band bounced on to stage, I was back in a pre-pandemic World of sweaty bodies and failing arms.
Wolf Alice began with ‘Smile’ from their recent Mercury Prize nominated album ‘Blue Weekend’. The perfect track as each member couldn’t hide their smiles and excitement to be performing to actual human beings. Bassist Theo Ellis could barely stand still, and it wasn’t long before his top was flung to the floor and was strutting along the edge of the stage. Guitarist Joff Oddie seemed to have a few technical issues early on during ‘Bros’ but there were no diva strops and at every opportunity he was pointing at a different area of the academy hyping them to give more – as if we needed inspiration?
The set list was a basic greatest hits of their first two albums as well as seven songs from their latest album and we were treated to the premier of ‘Play the Greatest Hits’ and ‘Feeling Myself’; the former allowed singer Ellie Rowsell to dance around the stage in her shimmering violet dress. An unforgettable moment had to be the band performing ‘Safe From Heartbreak’ from the drum riser, with Joel Amey (drums) and Ryan Malcom (keys) performing delightful backing vocals for the hushed lullaby. Elsewhere we were treated to a short cover of The Velvet Underground’s‘I’m Waiting for the Man’. During ‘Space & Time’ and a delectable rendition of ‘Don’t Delete the Kisses’ where the band downed tools to just watch the audience sing back the 2018 single, many on some poor sods shoulders.“Bournemouth we fucking love you” declared Ellis, but I am sure it didn’t matter where they were as any audience in the World would have certainly reacted with the same adoration and during ‘Giant Peach’ hundreds of teenagers shed their anxieties and we got to witness our first mosh pit of glistening semi-nude bodies creating old-school dance moves in a new normal. This didn’t feel like a brave new world – this felt like fitting into a favourite shirt and it felt good.
Wolf Alice would end the set with their epic ‘Visions of a Life’ from their second album of the same name. There may have been a few sound issues with Roswell’s vocals, and it felt like a tripped back version of the usual Wolf Alice stage show – without the usual back drops. However, we could have been watching them in shell suits on top of a haystack and paid double. This was a return to a life that many thought was lost and with so many venue closures, this is proof that people need live music and as the band retuned to encore with the breath taking ‘Last Man on Earth’ you could feel a wave of emotion wash over the venue and there may have just been a few tears left on the floor of the venue that night. Live music is back!
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