Photo credit: Candid Magazine.
The 28th of July was a day of much misery in my life. Firstly, tickets to Arcade Fire in London sold out before I got the chance to nab one. Secondly, and more dramatically, while I was waiting to buy tickets to a small Wolf Alice gig in Guildford, the train I was on went through a tunnel the exact moment the tickets went online. I knew that the opportunity to see Wolf Alice in a small venue was fading with each passing minute. Their upcoming tour had booked fairly large venues, including their largest show to date at Alexandra Palace for more than 10,000 people. In Wolf Alice’s rise to stardom their small and raucous gigs became legendary and a huge part of how they grew to prominence. So, when a press pass was offered for a small show in Tavistock, the nine hour long trip seemed like a reasonable price to pay to bear witness to Wolf Alice in their natural environment. They did not disappoint.
Something that was clear from the moment the gig started was that the audience was committed, full of die-hard fans. This was unsurprising because tickets were few and the venue was in the middle of nowhere right on the edge of Dartmoor. The show started with one of Wolf Alice’s new singles Don’t Delete The Kisses, the song was a perfect opener: slow, electric and beautifully executed. It was clear from the very start that the band were doing what they loved, from the outset they couldn’t have put anymore into their performance. Although the gig started calmly, the second song Yuk Foo made sure that the audience was thrashing around in no time. The thrashing didn’t abate until the final note of the evening had been played. The first two songs showed the band had impressive control of their audience in both the calm songs and the faster heavier numbers. As the show went on, Wolf Alice went through all their hits along with a few new cuts. Almost all of their songs grew to a new life in the Tavistock Wharf, to the point that even though I couldn’t get into one or two songs off new album, when they were played live, I realised how very wrong I was about them.
As the gig drew to a climax the crowd exploded into a new level of energy. The most amazing part about the growing mood of excitement was that the song that got the crowd into full swing was Formidable Cool, which hasn’t even been released yet. Wolf Alice had such control over their crowd. Even though it seemed like I was the only person in the audience to have heard the song, the entire crowd was hooked, as though it was an age old favourite. To finish off, Wolf Alice played three of the biggest songs in their arsenal, Silk, Fluffy and Moaning Lisa Smile. With each of these last songs the crowd grew rowdier, the mosh pit got bigger, and the sweat patches grew. The atmosphere was truly like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Small gigs are simply something special, and Wolf Alice are the best band I’ve ever seen in such a small venue. As if that wasn’t enough, we were given a gift of Giant Peach as an encore, an appropriate end to a beautiful and manic gig.
Wolf Alice were magnificent, energetic and borderline perfect. Something that is to be particularly admired is the passion and love they played with. Some bands seem to find themselves too cool to have fun on stage, but Wolf Alice didn’t. One day soon Wolf Alice will headline Glastonbury, and if they play with half the spark they did in Tavistock, the evening will be legendary. It was one of the best concerts I have ever been to and probably will ever go to.