LIVE REVIEW: Written By Wolves, Immerse, Izzy T, O2 Academy Islington 2, London, 16/11/2023
Photo Credit: Kevin O’Sullivan
Written By Wolves; the cinematic, prog-rock-adjacent New Zealanders, having released their debut album, Secrets, back in 2019, might not be the biggest name on the block – but given how good their set at the intimate (read: sweaty) O2 Islington 2 on Thursday was, they should be. From the opening, pulsing, dimly lit percussive introduction to the encore with the crowd shouting “9 more songs“, this night was one of the best gigs of the year.
With the dual supports of Izzy T and Immerse helping to rile the crowd up in preparation, the set was as unmissable as it was anticipated; and, although it might have taken way more than the five years since the band’s debut album for the quintet to make their long-awaited debut in this country, we hope they make damn sure the next gap isn’t as long.
But before we get to them, the supports. Greeting the at-first shy and fledgling crowd as the opener of the evening came the energetic and talented, world travelled British-Iranian Izzy T. But, as she gifted the room an explosive introduction into her unique blend of foot-stomping alt-rock, electronic punk and soft, melancholy ballads, it wasn’t long before she had said crowd eating out of her hand, the front of stage energised and contributing to her performance. One to watch out for! 8/10
Next up were the Bristol-based band Immerse. With a blend of heavy riffs, catchy choruses and carefully sculpted ambient sections, not to mention a frankly ridiculous number of high kicks, we were treated to a mix of songs both old and new — including singles from their upcoming album Energy, set to be released this December. A great set and a hell of a lot of fun. 7/10
And then, of course, there was Written By Wolves. If the hundreds of thousands of monthly listeners, 2021’s collab EP with the likes of Kellin Quinn, Sonny Sandoval and Trenton Woodley, or the fact that the band have already shared the stage with international heavyweights Limp Bizkit, Pendulum and Escape the Fate hadn’t clued you in: they’re good, like, really good. Until last week, however, they’d somehow never played the UK! All this meant, though, was that the anticipation exuded from the countless loyal fans in the crowd, who’d waited up to roughly ten years to see them live, was rife with barely-contained energy. Still — it was hard to decide who was more emotional, the fans or their band.
Lead singer and tearful Michael Murphy said that they hadn’t slept for three days making the epic trip to the UK and the gig was one of their career highlights. Even Oli Lyons, who normally never speaks a word on stage, took the mic and expressed his awe and admiration for the reception they had been given by the London crowd (Oli Lyons incidentally should get the award for highest jumping music stage artist ever – have a look at the photo).
At the end of opener, and 2015’s debut single, Not Afraid To Die, Murphy even moved bits of the staging around to be as close to as possible to the barrier, needing to be in touching distance of the crowd and thus be able to truly revel in the love bouncing back and forth; even that wasn’t enough for long though, with the beaming frontman, eventually venturing into the enraptured crowd with mic in hand and sparking looks of pure joy on the faces of the riveted fans. Even non-fans got a few treats, with the band’s signature covers of both Sia’s Elastic Heart and Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory classic Papercut inspiring venue-wide singalongs.
The night was incredible, with an electrifying buzz that persisted long after everyone had started traipsing out of the venue – though not before the crowd almost unanimously chose to wait behind to meet the men of the hour, given how long the band’s track record suggested it would be before they got another chance. A phenomenal night that neither the band nor the fans shall soon forget, and we personally cannot wait until they come back to the UK. Hopefully they will be back soon both on tour and also festivals. 10/10
Written By: Kevin O’Sullivan/James O’Sullivan