Tonight Southampton’s Guildhall is filled to the rim with thrill seekers ready to see the triple threat of Superfood, Sunflower Bean and Wolf Alice. Kicking off the show was Superfood with their bright, alternative sound. Following the release of their new album Bambino, the band debut new song, ‘Need A Little Spider,’ which has a captivating guitar riff that certainly livens up the crowd. Shortly after ‘I Can’t See’ creates a sea of synchronised head bops to its uplifting reggae beat. Superfood finished their set with Don’t Say That, the first song they ever wrote. It seemed unusual that the band weren’t put on as main support, given their run of form. Much of the smoking area chatter was different takes on the words “I’ve never heard of Sunflower Bean”.
But that’s not to say these beans were under-baked. The band were the perfect lead up to the angelic sounds of Wolf Alice as the surprisingly strong lead vocals of Julia Cumming brought many on board. The set featured all of their famous hits, such as ‘Easier Said’, giving summer vibes to a chilly November night. Repeatedly mentioning their travel from their hometown Brooklyn, New York, the trio were excited to play their new material, including their newly released single ‘I Was A Fool’, which showed off Julia’s entrancing vocals. The band finished the set with a McFly ‘Five Colours In Her Hair’ parallel ‘I Was Home’ from their recent album.
As the techs geared up for the main event and Ellie Rowsell’s trademark double microphone was brought on stage, you could start to taste the anticipation in the air. Like little kids eagerly staring up at the ice cream man, the rumble in the crowd meant they were ready for the crème da la crème.
Wolf Alice kicked off just as their new album Visions of a Life does, with the 1-2 combination of glacial opener ‘Heavenward’, followed by the fiery gut-puncher ‘Yuk Foo’. Since seeing them in 2015, when NME prematurely lauded them as the best live band in Britain, they haven’t so much matured but knuckled down. Pacing through a perfect meld of old and new (which included much appreciated deeper cuts ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’ and ‘Blush’), this is a band that have clearly learned the ropes.
After hearing the album, ‘Yuk Foo’ stuck out like a sore thumb. It seemed liked an excuse for Rowsell to slick her hair back and put on an edgy masculinity for the sake of a music video. However disingenuous, it works live admittedly well, throwing anguish into the mix which represents what makes Wolf Alice so captivating – their versatility as a band. They are able to flip hushed sensitivity into raging mid-sections with a surprising amount of cohesion; Rowsell bursts from stone-faced indifference to yelling down the microphone like a nun with Tourettes.
The happy antics of bassist Theo never go a miss, engaging with the crowd where Ellie shyly refuses. However it was guitarist Joff Oddie who took the showmanship crown, launching his guitar into the air and hurling it around as though he’d just graduated from the circus.
While fans thudded their feet for an encore, the exhilaration came full throttle mid-set, when the band ripped through ‘Lisbon’ with pure electricity. Turning toward the drummer in unison with a dizzying light show, It’s moments like this that remind you of what makes music so special, and Wolf Alice were able to pull off something rather special tonight.
Words by Nada Olson and @Jordan_Low
Illustration by Charlie Hoar