Do you remember your first kiss? Do you remember the first time you saw your significant other? The first time you saw a band destined for greatness in a small venue? I remember the latter, it was last night!
So many choices for shows in Montreal last night. LCD Soundsystem at Place Bell, Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience at MTelus and Wolf Alice @ L’Astral. All the cool kids chose well, and filled up L’Astral for the first Montreal appearance of Wolf Alice.
Wolf Alice has been my obsession for the last few months. I just can’t get enough, I have a soft spot it seems for female singers with a little hard edge to them. To see them perform in such a small venue could make this an epic concert. It’s the kind of show we will talk about years from now, when they fill the proper large venues, but the fortunate who attended tonight will boast that we saw them in the intimate setting of L’Astral. Rock-N-Roll history for sure.
Tonight was all about wolves, starting with Montreal’s own Wolves At Midnight. A pretty impressive performance starting with “Let It Out” from their debut EP. Marc-André Morin, reminding me of Yannis Philippakis (Foals) with equal energy, was pounding on a drum for this first song which actually got the crowd jumping. No small feat for an opening band. They introduced “The Way It Is” as a love song, but “Go” really picked up the pace. They played seven songs including one that will launch February 2nd titled “West Coast”. The songs were catchy, especially “West Coast” which the band got the crowd to compete on a sing along. The right side, which I was a part of, clearly won.
Let It Out
So Be It
The Way It Is
I could spot in the crowd a few “glitter” fans. Glitter for Wolf Alice seems to be the thing that unites the true fans, those that know every lyric to every song. Wolf Alice are huge in the UK, but relatively unknown in Canada, but that is about to change. As the lights faded and the band walked out on stage, you could feel the energy in the room even before the first note of “Heavenward.” Yes, this band is rocketing straight up into the Rock-N-Roll stratosphere with a sound so addictive, it should come with a 12 step program.
Ellie Rowsell has a voice that stretches from angelic and sultry to built up angst. Her piercing eyes scan the room and you can feel when she is looking at you. The joker of the group is Theo Ellis who has the energy of a small nuclear plant, enough to power any room he’s in. Joff Oddie has an intensity to him combined with a love/hate relationship with his guitar. Throughout the night, he will stretch out his guitar toward the crowd and tenderly and skilfully display its awesome power, while at time he will pound the head of the guitar on the ground to resonate just the right amount of distortion and pain from his instrument for the benefit of the song. Of course, the backbone of the band is Joel Amey on drums.
Wolf Alice get us hooked like a skilled fisherman (or fisherwoman) with Yuk Foo, the second track off Visions of a Life.
The next song starts softly, but that is only a facade of what is to come with “You’re a Germ”. Instantly, we were all infected and not one person in the venue is immune from dancing in some way or another.
“I can only love you more” resonates throughout L’Astral for “Your Love’s Whore” and the irresistibility of this band is cemented even more.
Songs like “Don’t Delete the Kisses” shows the softer side of Ellie’s voice as she shouts “What if it’s not meant for me? Love.” We all sing along as well. It feels like everyone in this room knows the songs and there is no need to elicit clapping or singing, it just happens naturally. That is when you know the band and the crowd is in sync. I haven’t seen that often, but tonight, it is evident that there is symbiotic relationship between us that amplifies the music played.
“Bros” was next played, which is one of the first songs that Ellie wrote, an ode to childhood friendships and imagination. The lights would perfectly match the mood of every song which made a relatively simple setup quite effective in painting the mood for each song.
“Lisbon”, which was inspired by the Sofia Coppola movie “The Virgin Suicides” about the Lisbon sisters had an intensity equal to the film. With so many rock star suicides in recent months, it’s hard not to think of the fallen who have left us too early. Some who have shone so brightly have also been extinguished too soon, leaving us all with a void.
“Planet Hunter” brings a lighter side, about a night you don’t want to end. Mesmerized by the performance, this was a night I didn’t want to end, but I knew that was wishful thinking. I instead soaked in all the music to form a memory that will last a lifetime.
“Beautifully Unconventional” is a song I didn’t really enjoy on the album, but it really seemed to resonate with the crowd tonight. This sort of gave me a new appreciation of the song, that grew on me tonight, pulled in by audience participation yet again.
One of my favorite, turn up the volume to 11 songs is “Moaning Lisa Smile”. The Chorus of “A-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ahh” was sung by me at the top of my lungs, along with others. I was oblivious that this had anything to do with Lisa Simpson, the saxophone playing daughter of Homer. Who cares… it just rocks.
The set ended with the hard “Fluffy” off My Love is Cool. Ellie screams “Sixteen, so sweet!”, a lifetime ago for me. I do however remember being in a small town screaming “What’s there to do in this dead-out town?”, which eventually brought me to Montreal.
As the band left, a certain energy built up within the crowd. I found myself chanting “Wolf Alice” along with the others, wanting more from tonight.
The lights are dark, you know they are coming back, but that moment when they hit the stage once more, you feel this renewed energy. They start us off slowly with “Blush”, the only song we would hear form that EP. As the song ends with “Are you happy now?”, I have to say: Yes.
Wolf Alice have a buzz about them in the media, and seeing them live, I got to feel that buzz. Like a great story that takes our emotions and puts them on a roller coaster of highs and low, Wolf Alice took us on a ride of ups and downs, soft songs and high peaks of energy. Just like the rollercoaster, we had our hands up in abandon and enjoyed every minute of it. Fans were singing every lyric and we all jumped, swayed and danced along this well-orchestrated sample of the bands body of work.
The last of our energy was spent on “Giant Peach”, one of the heavier tracks of My Love is Cool, which was a fitting end to this evening. Wolf Alice is all the rage in the UK and I hope they get the same here in Canada and the USA. They are ultra-cool and those that chose this show tonight witnesses something special. Years from now, we will say we say Wolf Alice in a small venue and it was magical. I’m just glad I was there to witness this once in a lifetime show with dedicated fans.
You’re A Germ
Your Love’s Whore
St. Purple and Green
Don’t Delete The Kisses
Space & Time
Moaning Lisa Smile
Visons Of A Life