Wolf Alice do things at their own pace. The steady climb in the buildup to debut album ‘My Love Is Cool’ took steely nerves while the decision to tap the breaks and takeover The Forum in London instead of jumping from a sold-out Brixton Academy to something larger reeks of a band staring expectation dead in the eye and smirking. When you’ve got songs that’ll soundtrack a generation and last last a lifetime though, you can take as long as you bloody well like.
Tonight is the fourth and final night of Wolf Alice’s residency at The Forum and once again, it sees the band taking their time. Savouring every moment. The curtain-twitching intro is majestic and, slipping straight into ‘Your Loves Whore’ and ‘You’re A Germ’, sets the pace for an evening that constantly changes tempo. Not that, that stops the audience from nosediving headfirst into over-eager pits and enthusiastic handclaps.
Wolf Alice could easily pander to their audience and litter their set with those moments of mass participation but the band, and the crowd, is smarter than that. The band are deliberate, considered but they never dawdle or drag their heels. Every cut and drop is pitched perfectly for maximum enchantment.
The likes of ‘Fluffy’ and ‘Lisbon’ sees the band throttle their instruments like their lives depend on it but falling into the reverb-laden landscape of ’90 Mile Beach’ or the sparkling reflection of ‘Blush’, Wolf Alice take all the time in the world. Tonight isn’t about meanders or slow-builds. The intrigue comes from their handbrake turns, dead stops and sudden forward dashes. The audience hangs on every shudder. Backed by a twinkling backdrop dancing across ‘My Love Is Cool’s glittering front cover, the band transform ‘The Wonderwhy’ into a snarling, off kilter pop song while ‘Storms’ is full of blurry, big city swagger. Skipping over lulls, Wolf Alice are mysterious, moody but are still the figureheads of a new movement.
“That’s so cool,” smiles Ellie, addressing the people who came to multiple nights of the tour. “It makes us feel so much better onstage to see our friends and stuff.” It’s a particularly poignant note as Wolf Alice are still a man down. Gengahr’s John Victor does an outstanding job filling in for an injured Theo but his absence can be felt throughout. From Swim Deep getting the room to put T’s in the air to the Get Well Soon Theo T-shirt sat on the merch table – taking messages of sympathy and support – there’s a slightly slanted onstage chemistry tonight but that only makes Ellie, Joff and Joel work harder. Their snarls more ferocious. Even missing a limb, Wolf Alice are still more dynamic than most. After all, back in their hometown, tonight is a family affair.
Ellie’s cousin Archie comes onstage to fill in Theo’s shoes for the ‘Giant Peach’ dance and it’s all over, save an awkward group hug, an unchoreographed bow, twin confetti cannons and the biggest riff to come out of Britain for ruddy ages. Finally escaping buzzy, buzzy hype, tonight Wolf Alice are timeless. Unafraid of trajectories and not giving a toss about anticipated moves, the band are doing things to their own agenda. They’re in charge of their own story and it’s already one for the ages.