November 11, 2021 at Paradise Rock Club
There are times when concerts feel like a recitation – where a band goes onstage to simply sing their songs, yell their thank you’s, and travel on. Sometimes, however, there is a concert that redefines the album and makes the listener wonder how they ever heard the songs in a different form. Wolf Alice at Paradise Rock Club on Thursday, November 11 was one of the latter.
Looking around at the crowd, my initial reaction was confusion. The people gathered in front of the stage were incredibly varied, a range from punk-looking college students to polo-wearing dads, all anxiously awaiting the start of the show. This collection of fans, however, was a perfect encapsulation of Wolf Alice’s sound. Their blend of timeless grungy rock with innovative, more modern electronic elements creates an effect that is widely appealing, yet still unique and niche.
After the smoky, intimate set performed by opener Bia, it was unclear exactly how the show was going to go. The crowd seemed equally restless and tired, impatient and subdued. The conversations ranged from “when is this going to start,” to “maybe we’ll try and duck out early.” It was as if the crowd was cracking with every quiet moment, as people shifted on their feet underneath the house lights. As soon as Wolf Alice walked out, however, everything seemed to snap into place.
The disparate group of fans seemed joined all at once. It was a crowd unlike anything I had ever seen. Every single person there, whether 18 or 60, seemed incredibly connected and devoted to the band. Screaming every lyric, matching the energy perfectly, it felt as if they were all collectively opening their arms and embracing the music.
Wolf Alice themselves, composed of singer Ellie Rowsell, guitarist Jeff Odie, drummer Joel Amey and bassist Theo Ellis, embraced Boston right back.
Opening the set with “Smile,” it was immediately clear Wolf Alice was bringing their all. Each member exploded into sound, their energy washing over the crowd and into their performance. Odie and Ellis, positioned on either side of Rowsell, unfailingly engaged with the fans throughout the set. Walking to the brink of the stage in order to get as close as possible, it seemed as if they wanted as much to be in the audience instead of on the stage. Rowsell, whose voice was actually shocking in clarity and pitch, seemed to pour her soul into every word. It was both musically impressive and dynamically interesting.
Altogether, the show was surprisingly emotional. Even when the band performed more hard-rock tracks, the electricity in the crowd was palpable. In “Play the Greatest Hits,” when the fans screamed right alongside Rowsell, or “Bros,” and sang louder than the band, Ellis said, “you play a song for ten years and [you] still get floored by moments like that.” Another instance of this intense emotion was when Rowsell started crying while singing “Safe From Heartbreak (if you never fall in love),” or during the encore of “Don’t Delete the Kisses,” when a fan facetimed in their friend and yelled along to the song together. It felt as if each track was sung specifically for this crowd, for this night.
The whole time, it felt like I was witnessing something special. The show gave off the bittersweet feeling of finality, as if never again would a crowd exist in such perfect harmony. During the performance of “The Last Man on Earth,” the combination of Rowsell’s voice and the thrum of the audience’s collective sound seemed to suspend time. Odie said it best, remarking that there were “a lot of familiar faces in the crowd. It feels like homecoming.”
Wolf Alice delivered a spectacular show, spinning a rock concert into an emotional, almost transcendent journey through sound. The final thoughts hanging in the air as the audience filtered through the venue doors and into the cold Boston night were universal, and unequivocal: when are they coming back?