LIVE REVIEW: Wolf Alice, Matt Maltese, O2 City Hall Newcastle, 28/02/2022
Photo Credit: Jordan Hemingway
Wolf Alice are a band that are currently going from step to step at the moment. Every time they release music, they are met with endless critical praise and awards.
Whether that be 2017’s Visions Of A Life earning them the prestigious Mercury Prize, or 2021’s Blue Weekend helping them on their way to winning a BRIT Award for best group, where the likes of Coldplay and Little Mix were nominated, the band can seem to do no wrong. In the live setting, as their fanbase has grown, the size of the venues they are playing is swiftly following suit. In July, they headlined the 35,000 capacity Latitude Festival alongside Chemical Brothers and Bastille, which was another accolade that pushed them into the mainstream eye.
The Blue Weekend UK tour was originally scheduled for January, but was then postponed because of you know what, but thankfully fans only had to wait a matter of weeks rather than a matter of months to see the band.
However, before they took to the stage in a packed-out Newcastle City Hall, singer songwriter Matt Maltese took to the stage, the artist was open about his lack of shows over the last three years, but he did not let it show. His vocal range was mesmerising at time, and the crowds seemed to be warming to his warm nature. A lot of the younger demographic were evidently there for the ‘TikTok famous’ As the World Caves in, which he closed his set on. Although his songs told tales of despair, he left a positive impact on the crowd, and will have likely attracted a few more fans rather than just the overexcited TikToker. 8/10
After roughly a half-hour break, where a lot of the crowd headed to the bar, whilst the place began to really pack out, there was certainly a sense of anticipation in the air. The lights dimmed, you could tell the crowd were desperate to see the group they should have seen a month or so before. As the lighting began its shift, the instantly recognisable riff of Smile kicked in, and to my surprise, there was no pit that the beginning of that song deserves. Although, the crowd perhaps needed a bit of warming up, the band sounded fantastic.
Following this up was You’re a Germ, which did get the crowd going a bit more, as it was a clear fan favourite, whilst tracks from their new LP perhaps needed a bit more time before they got to the levels of fan reaction as the likes of hits from their debut – My Love is Cool. Throughout the set, the band opted to play mostly slower, gentle, and timid songs, whilst still including a few of the rowdier tracks. This still worked great, but it left a bit of a strange reception in the crowd, as fans would go from starting a pit to then standing for a few songs.
At times, it felt like the crowd wanted to start a pit, but the band weren’t giving them the music to, which may have tarnished other people’s experiences, but it did not have an effect on ours. Lead singer Ellie Rowsell’s stunning vocals were on full display during the beautiful Lipstick on the Glass and No Hard Feelings, with the latter having the most perfect lighting display as the lighting switched from Rowsell to the man on synth duty.
During these lighter moments, it really felt like you were the only person in the room as the band played to you, which you have to give a lot of credit to the band and production staff for. There were also times during the gig where the whole room felt as one during the gig. Silk has arguably one of the best singalong choruses around, The Last Man on Earth had everyone enchanted, and the drop in Giant Peach had the room split in two (in a good way).
Interestingly, the majority of band interaction with the crowd was done by bassist Theo Ellis, with Rowsell only really interacting with fans to say thank you towards the end of the gig.
Similarly, to Matt Maltese, Wolf Alice saved their most popular track to last, and it’s one hell of a closer. Don’t Delete the Kisses is a heart aching track about falling in love, and open insecurities that attract so many fans to their music, as they see a part of themselves in Rowsell. The huge chorus in this track has the whole crowd exclaiming at every word of ‘Me and you were meant to be in love‘, it’s quite an amazing moment to experience, and one that clearly meant a lot to a lot of fans. It was prefect cherry on top to an exceptional night.
Written by: Joe Loughran