There is no joy in this world as great as going to a rock show. The feeling as the lights go down and the music starts…it’s euphoric. And when that band is your favorite band in the world? What could be better?
Wolf Alice is unequivocally my favorite band in the world. I’ve now seen them upwards of nineteen times since they first toured in the US back in 2015. After Blue Weekend was released, I knew a tour would soon follow. Needless to say, I was ecstatic. I would finally be seeing them after four long years. And they did not disappoint.
Once you’ve seen a band this many times, you almost start to feel a personal sense of pride at how much they’ve grown. Not only are they now playing their amazing new songs, but they’ve improved exponentially with the old ones. They’re still the same goofy band they’ve always been, but with a new edge of “We know what we’re doing, and we finally know how to show it.”
The show opens up with “Smile” which immediately gets the crowd moving. At the show in Boston, Ellie Rowsell paused between the first and the second song to greet the crowd. But in NYC, they immediately went to the classic “You’re a Germ”. This song has always been one of their best live ones. It showcases Rowsell’s range and her extraordinary ability to scream and sound good doing it. Plus it makes the crowd go manic, screaming right along side her.
The setlist was expertly crafted with a healthy mix of all three albums. I was actually surprised at how many songs from “Visions of a Life” were featured. (Not that I minded, since I didn’t get a chance to see a VOAL show back then) Five of the songs were from album two. “Beautifully Unconventional”, “Formidable Cool”, “Planet Hunter”, “VOAL” and “Don’t Delete the Kisses”.
Album one got some more love beyond “You’re A Germ” as well, but it was mostly their classic songs. Ones that you think of when you hear the name Wolf Alice: “Bros”, “Giant Peach and “Moaning Lisa Smile”. But even though I’ve heard them a million times, I’ve never heard them quite like this. Their experience and growth as musicians is so evident. They even remarked about “Bros” “We’ve been playing [this song] for ten years, but it still somehow surprises me to hear the whole room singing along.”
(I will say, however, the removal of the “Giant Peach Dance” is something that I will have to work to get over. Gone but not forgotten.)
Wolf Alice have learned how to control the energy of the crowd. There were no parts in the set where it felt dull or tired, even during the slower songs of Blue Weekend. When they had the mid-set moments of “Safe from Heartbreak” played into “How Can I make It OK?” We had not even a second to pause and reflect before being tossed into the highlight of the night “Play the Greatest Hits”.
“Play the Greatest Hits” was one of those songs where as soon as I heard it, I knew it was going to be one of those songs that excelled live. And I was right. It was frantic, it was played extremely fast. And it was fun. And was it loud enough? No. Of course not!
There was one big thing missing from the show: The Beach and The Beach II. We can only hope that they’ll get added in a later show, because the story of Blue Weekend isn’t complete without them. But Wolf Alice has been known to add songs as they go. During the My Love is Cool era, few months, another song was added onto the setlist. Will that happen this time? Probably not, this set was really cohesive. But we can always hope.
The band themselves said it best in Boston when they said “There are so many familiar faces here, it feels like a homecoming.” It felt like that for me too. Being back in the crowd for a band that means so much was magical. I didn’t know just how much I missed them until I got to hear them play again.
I’ve always said that if you like Wolf Alice, you’ve never truly heard them until you’ve heard them live. So if you ever get a chance to be a part of that crowd, please do. It’s such an experience. Their chemistry with each other and with the crowd is truly something special.
It’s only been a week, but I’m already looking forward to the next show!