LIVE: Pale Waves @ 02 Academy, Birmingham 24.09.19

Review and Images by Jonathan Taylor

Instagram: @jonathantaylorphotography 

After supporting Muse and The 1975 on their stadium and arena tours and performing at virtually every European festival this summer, Pale Waves show no signs of slowing in momentum as they embark on their autumn UK tour.

The release of their debut album ‘My Mind makes Noises’ in September last year laid solid foundations for Pale Waves and in turn they have built an established and loyal fan base who have embraced their blend of emo, guitar based pop.

The fans obsession and admiration for Pale Waves lead singer, Heather Baron-Gracie is so apparent all over social media, so it came as no surprise that as soon as the doors to the 02 Academy opened, Vans wearing youngsters streamed into the venue; all desperate to get their spot, pride of place and as near to the stage as possible.

As the lights of the venue slowly dim, the crowd erupts as Heather and fellow band mates Ciara Doran, Hugo Silvani and Charlie Wood take to the stage shrouded in low light. The set opens with the new wave, electro pop favourite ‘Eighteen’ which sees the stage explode in an incredibly impressive display of lighting which illuminates the youthful, joyous, bouncing crowd.  The energetic 80’s inspired ‘Kiss’ follows and then the lights dim to match the title of the next offering ‘Red’ which allows Heather to roam the stage and interact with the adoring crowd.

Fan favourite ‘Television Romance’ is followed by tracks off their E.P. ‘All The Things I Never Said’.  Fans scream in delight as Heather announces it was time for a new song and the crowd are treated to new track ‘Tomorrow’. A pop punk offering which does not sound out of place in the set with the current album tracks and is no doubt reassuring to fans that they are already working on future material.

Like so many of Pale Waves songs, ‘Where Did I Lose It All’ again demonstrates Heather Baron-Gracie’s incredible ability to talk so openly about the vulnerabilities of youthful relationships and the insecurities of growing up, which is so relatable to the majority of the audience tonight and perhaps the reason why they have such an impassioned fan base.

‘Came In Close’ and ‘Black’ continue the set before the explosive slice of anthemic guitar pop ‘One More Time’ ignites the crowd into further unified bouncing momentum with arms aloft. The rest of the band leave the stage and Heather is lit by a single spotlight and shows no signs of venerability as she addresses the crowd. “This is a song that means so much to me” and begins to pick away on her acoustic guitar and plays ‘Karl (I Wonder What It’s Like To Die). An open, honest, heartbreakingly beautiful piece of song writing that demonstrates without question that Heather Baron-Gracie will be regarded as one of the greatest song writers of her generation. The applause and expression of appreciation from the crowd is deafening as she turns and leaves the stage.

On their return, Pale Waves launch into their penultimate song of the evening ‘Noise’. A beautiful moment of dreamy guitar, synth based pop which yet again highlights exceptional lyrical prowess. ‘There Is Honey’, the bands break-through single brings the night to a close. Pale Waves have achieved so much in such a short space of time on the back of their debut album. With countless live performances as a support act and on the summer European festival circuit they have had plenty of opportunity to master their craft as a live band. After tonight’s performance with them as a band, standing on their own two feet as the headline act, it is clear that it is time for Pale Waves to break free from the shadows of support act status and catapult themselves onto higher platforms of significance where they are destined to stand