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22nd March 2022

A moment’s happiness: Under the influence of Wolf Alice

Lucy Turner reviews Wolf Alice at Manchester Apollo on their Blue Weekend tour
A moment’s happiness: Under the influence of Wolf Alice
Photo: Wolf Alice, Lucy Turner @ The Mancunion

A Review of Wolf Alice’s ‘Blue Weekend’ Tour at Manchester Apollo, 03/03/2022

Having seen Wolf Alice at Manchester Warehouse during their ‘Visions of a Life’ tour in 2018, I was sure that their sold-out UK and Ireland tour would be more than worth the £29 ticket. The 6 pre-gig spotlights flooding the stage were electric blue, perfectly matching the aesthetic of the ‘Blue Weekend’ album cover as the indie/alternative crowd waited excitedly, pint in hand, for the quartet to appear.

Photo: ‘Planet Hunter’, Lucy Turner @ The Mancunion

Entering with their smash hit ‘Smile’, the crowd quickly erupted as minimalist white spotlights transitioned to a chaotic, frantic green during the instrumental sections, highlighting the song’s textural variety. Rowsell’s crisp vocals bellowed out into the crowd “Did you think I was a puppet on strings?” as the audience joined in with the warmer chorus – a great example of how Wolf Alice switch up their grungey, rock dynamic with melodic, sensitive choruses. ‘Formidable Cool’ comes later, including a catchy guitar riff that sets the quick tempo of the song about a misleading lover as Rowsell headbangs her platinum blonde hair under the lights, letting her powerful charisma entice the crowd.

Photo: ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’, Lucy Turner @ The Mancunion

The tempo slows afterwards for ‘Delicious Things’, a sing along anthem about moving away from home and all the excitement and anxieties that come with it. Rowsell sings ‘A shot for the spot at the top, a girl like me’ – a fitting lyric having just won their first BRIT award the previous month. The pastel colours flood the stage making you feel as if you’re in their living room – providing intimacy. Warm reds and oranges match the 1930s deco of the Apollo itself – contradicting the indie rock music. An immaculate transition into ‘Lipstick on The Glass’ follows, just like as it does in the album. Rowsell displays her impressive vocal range here, presenting herself as an ethereal figure against the blood red lipstick lighting.

Photo: ‘Safe From Heartbreak (if you never fall in love)’, Lucy Turner @ The Mancunion

The stage then transitions to a deep blue to introduce the celestial ‘Planet Hunter’, which lyrics are eponymous in the title of this article. Rowsell’s vocals are isolated, with only the subtle guitar chords and bassline accompanying her for the first verse. The fleeting harsh red and blue lights of the instrumental section highlight the contrast in the texture of the track, complimenting booming guitar riffs and crashing symbols, really making this song outstanding. ‘Safe From Heartbreak (if you never fall in love)’ was a beautiful acoustic break with a spotlight creating a silhouette of Rowsell’s figure against the curtained backdrop. Possibly the best moment of the show was when the band stopped playing to allow Rowsell’s vocals to shine though, singing the lyrics “You fuck with my feelings”, which the crowd belted – a grounding, heart-breaking lyric.

Photo: ‘You’re A Germ’, Lucy Turner @ The Mancunion

The 8-minute track ‘Visions of A Life’ allows Ellis, Rowsell and Oddie to groove together in the instrumental sections, presenting opportunities for mosh-pits throughout the stalls. ‘Play The Greatest Hits’ follows, a song I usually skip on the album, although live Wolf Alice perform it with an electric energy. Again comes the distressed green, flashing lighting that allows Rowsell to tear up the stage, roaring the lyrics out into the boisterous crowd. ‘No Hard Feelings’ comes next – an acoustic song about the end of a relationship and moving on, to which Rowsell sits at the back of the stage with a white spotlight accompanying her vocals, a beautifully isolated song that gets you right in the feels.

Photo: ‘Feeling Myself’, Lucy Turner @ The Mancunion

The encore finalises the spectacle, beginning with ‘The Last Man On Earth’ , the first single released from ‘Blue Weekend’. A touching ballad that the band intimately present with minimal lighting, encouraging Rowsell’s raw vocals shine out into the crowd of torches swaying side by side. Finally followed by the fan favourite ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’ which the crowd sing along to, reminiscing the ‘Visions of a Life’ era that the purple lighting portrays. There’s something heart-warming about everyone shouting “What if it’s not meant for me? Love” before the band bid their farewells, alluring the crowd with a sort of out-of-body experience that left me and a friend silent and in awe for half an hour after – despite the absence of their key single ‘Beautifully Unconventional’.

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