Energetic and unmistakably powerful, Wolf Alice deliver a mature performance far outstripping their afternoon billing at Reading's NME tent on Saturday.
Dressed in all black - with a little smattering of colour coming from the oh-so loveable faces of the Spice Girls planted on singer Ellie Rowsell’s t-shirt - Wolf Alice take to the stage of the NME tent with a certain weight of expectation resting on their shoulders. Lazy comparisons between Courtney Love and the somewhat enigmatic character of Rowsell certainly don’t help ease this sense of expectation, but what becomes abundantly clear almost immediately is that Wolf Alice are pulling no punches with a set that is both menacing, wistful and emotional in equal measures.
Roswell, whose versatile and expansive vocals offer both tender moments as well as empowering, ruthless screeches of joy, anchors all that Wolf Alice do. The more basic compositional elements of Wolf Alice’s music in fact become their strength as they are well painted, coated and glossed by melodies that bounce freely around the NME tent. Not only does she provide something endearing, haunting and engaging all in one, she also provides a visual centre point from which Wolf Alice strive.
Within a set comprising of songs from their debut album My Love is Cool, natural high points comes from fan favourites Moaning Lisa Smile and Bros, which trigger delight in both the obsessive Wolf Alice fan and the on-looking bystander. Their ability to bridge this gap is their clearest and most noticeable endorsement yet of the success that Wolf Alice have in transcending their crowd within a personable and engaging performance; this most certainly bodes well moving forward. As their set reaches a close, the band bang their heads towards the floor in unison, and with it, they have the crowd hooked on their every last breathe.
For North-London's finest, today feels like an important moment. Standing on their own two feet, they produce something that refuses to adhere to the shackles that their relative infancy infers.
Photo credits: Redbrick