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Wolf Alice At Le Poisson Rouge, Friday, June 18th, 2015, Review

IMG_2447Wolf Alice have been the buzz band de jour for two years now and with two excellent EPs already released and a first rate debut album My Love Is Cool on the horizon, the wide range wide lens London band were at the zenith of their buzziness last night at Le Poisson Rouge. The set was an intense, 45 minute run through their immediate history with no weak spots and a steady build through noise annoys obstreperousness through heavy metal to grunge and all ending with the superb “Moaning Lisa Smile”.

The thing about bands in the place where Wolf Alice, is there is a tingly sense of abiding moment about them, you feel close to something about to explode in a burst of energy and joy. In the two years since “Blush” -given the only quiet performance last night, even “Bros” thundered, yesterday, with lead singer Ellie Rowsell quietly finger picking her electric guitar, the band haven’t moved forwards as much as sideways. On record there is a sense of tempo and temperament, but in person they are all aggression, guitarist Joff Oddie takes off his tee shirt, Ellie buckles at the knees and whips her hair and the rhythm section, drummer Joel Amey and bassist Theo Elli, are more punk backbeat than new wave.

Speaking of punk backbeat, opening act, Buffalo trio, not to mention Columbia Recording Artists, Made Violent have some sticky sweet melodies to go along with lead singer and bassist Joseph White’s aggressively excited performance. They could use a little more nuance, but after that you’ve said everything.

So could Wolf Alice use nuance. Not on record, on record they have the balance right, but when performing they are an ultra tuned in, mico jam band, going head first into the night hard rockers. It was a professional without being charming performance, their rapport with the audience on a musical level was fine, and the sound grew more powerful while remaining just about constant, but they don’t really talk to the audience; there is no sense of the moment in time.

Which is a pity, it is as if they are ready for their moment, and can play it, but can’t quite handle it. The three song conclusion to the set, ““You’re a Germ”, Giant Peach”, and “Moaning Lisa Smile” (the latter with a very cheerful member of the audience invited on stage) is everything you want, except for some reason Wolf Alice are missing something. Maybe it is Ellie’s fault, if you are the band leader, it is your job to lead, Ellie isn’t reticent as guitarist and certainly not as a singer, she can go from a whisper to scream, but she doesn’t do focal point and so there is something rudderless about the band.

I enjoyed em fine, and the new album is one of the best of the year, they have depth and intelligence and they seem to hate cliche with a passion, but they are not quite there on stage yet.

Grade: B


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