LIVE: Wolf Alice – The Institute, Birmingham 31.03.15

Introducing themselves with the mellow and contained ‘Leaving You’ single back in 2012, London’s Wolf Alice have come far in developing their loud-mouthed, grunge sound which has already gained them a tight, loyal following. Ahead of their much awaited debut record, My Love Is Cool, which is to be released on June 22 via Dirty Hit, Wolf Alice headed up to Birmingham to play tracks old and new to one of the best crowds they could have expected.

Hitting things off with a bang, ‘Fluffy’ opens the set familiarising, the crowd with how Wolf Alice like to make a statement with thundering riffs and melodies. Still reminiscing back to what pushed them into the limelight of the indie rock world, they don’t waste any time in moving onto next track ‘She’. This sees frontwoman Ellie Roswell stride ahead as she flits between the intermittent soft, velvet-like vocals, and the hardy shrieks of the chorus, seeming to overpower the crowd in front of her.

Still not wanting to let energy levels drop, ‘Your Love’s Whore’ follows. Although, seemingly softer than the rest with silky ‘aahs’ instead of their notorious screeches, there’s still the same raw 90s edge that all of their material has. Finally allowing for a comedown and a bit of a sing-song, there’s a quick slow-down of pace, softening of drums and strums before ’90 Mile Beach’ reaches its peak, allowing Joel Amey’s percussion section to fully let loose.

With everyone in the crowd a bit calmer than they were at first, it seems like the perfect time to test some newbies out. ‘The Wonderwhy’ follows Wolf Alice’s faultless pattern of keeping up thumping beats whilst still be accountable as a heart-warming ballad. The insight into the new record seems like a treat to the rowdy Brummies in the crowd who still get the pits forming (although not always perfectly), making things seem even more exciting for what’s to come. Again with other new track ‘Soapy Water’, though lighter on the ears its dreaminess captivates everyone, resulting in Roswell declaring Birmingham as one of the best crowds they’ve ever had.

It couldn’t be relaxed for too long so once again the overdrive returns with ‘Storms’ and ‘Bros’. Fan favourite ‘Bros’ initiates chaos as there’s little chance of keeping upright and crowd surfers fly everywhere. Tight drums from Amey and even tighter riffs from Oddie don’t hesitate at all in persuading the crowd to create even more bedlam but this disappears in a flash with the intro of the sway-inducing ‘Blush’; cue arms up high and lighters in the air.

Wolf Alice know how to do the confidence-filled, boisterous tracks perfectly now, but with ‘You’re A Germ’, it’s taken to another level. Roswell’s counts up to 10 give the signal for the rowdy punters to cause even more havoc than before, getting both the band on stage and everyone in the crowd to get ready for the game changer that’s ‘Giant Peach’. Only released earlier this year, it’s already treated like a anthemic fan-favourite. Thundering their main set to a close, the typical 90s style track sees the band dancing in sync, playing along with enough vigour that it feels almost celebratory of how far they’ve have come.

After a minute or so of cries for them to come back, they return with another blast from the past in ‘White Leather’. Soft coos from Roswell team with gentle picks of the guitar, prompting more handclaps than pits and show just how good Wolf Alice are at not shying away from mixing up their sound. Soon enough it’s time to bring the night to close which is dealt with by ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’. Bringing back heaviness and brashness, the track reminds everyone of what Wolf Alice are best at; big, bold and anthemic melodies that bring along enough menace to make sure everyone has a good time.

Andy O’Nyan