Wolf Alice in The Olympia Theatre, Dublin, on March 5th 2015
We’re still trying to get used to this new circular bar in The Olympia. It’s just so…swanky, and round; a panopticon where huge monochrome images of Irish actors gaze down from the walls as we gaze across at the faces of our fellow drinkers. There’s something disconcerting about that. Maybe it’s just the jarring effect of change – the upheaval of familiar surroundings. Maybe that’s what draws us to Wolf Alice so much…a sense of the familiar. Anyway, it’s now almost three years since GoldenPlec’s first encounter with the London quartet in a small tent at Longitude, and what a difference a few years make. ‘90s indie and grunge still loom large in their sound, but that fresh-faced innocence has been replaced with a more formidable stage presence.
Joff Odie steps out onto the dark stage alone, dispensing swathes of guitar noise before the rest join him for a strobing overture that breaks into You’re A Germ. From here on in it’s a blend of layered harmonies and grungey breakouts, anthemic peaks and noise rock troughs. Bassist Theo Ellis is from the Nicky Wire school of glam posturing, glittered eye shadow and all, while Odie throws himself and his guitar around the stage. Between them Ellie Roswell almost acts as an anchor, tethered to the mic save for when Joel Amey assumes vocal duties from behind the kit for Swallowtail.
There’s a classic moment of unintentional cheese during the latter. Amey croons atop a drum riser, under a spotlight, with a fan blowing his hair like a scene from an ‘80s cock rock music video. To their credit, any sense of the absurd is immediately dispelled by the ensuing Fluffy, a short, sweet blast of beefed up, cruddy power pop.
It’s on these cranked-up excursions that Wolf Alice are at their most arresting – a fine routing of Lisbon; 90 Mile Beach from the ‘Blush’ EP, heads down and hair flailing; the heavy rock of She from the same release; a mesmeric Moaning Lisa Smile. They’ve come a long way from that fledgling Longitude performance – this is a more serious outfit, more assured. The humour still creeps in though, and as they bow out with Giant Peach Roswell and Ellis engage in a bit of synchronised guitar swaying – ZZ Top via the Quo; one last good-humoured rock-out in a set full of them.
Read our recent interview with Joel Amey of Wolf Alice.