Home Gigs GIG REVIEW : Pale Waves @ Nottingham Rock City 13 February 2022 with support: Bitters & Hot Milk

GIG REVIEW : Pale Waves @ Nottingham Rock City 13 February 2022 with support: Bitters & Hot Milk

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Review & Photography by Andy Houghton for MPM

I’ve never quite got into the habit of going to gigs on Sunday nights – the looming work week ahead has always overshadowed my enthusiasm for a late night, especially when the venue is an hour’s drive from home.

Nonetheless, indie-pop Pale Waves have been on my list of bands to see for a long while, in fact ever since they won NME’s Under The Radar award back in 2018. So their booking at Nottingham’s legendary Rock City was enough of a draw for me to climb in my car and head down the A52 on a wet and chilly February evening.

The weather certainly didn’t dampen anyone else’s enthusiasm either, with a queue outside Rock City that snaked around the block well before the doors opened. Once inside, the venue was heaving even before the first support band took to the stage.

Indeed, by the time Pale Waves appeared later that night, there was a close-to-capacity crowd filling not just the main floor and balcony, but standing all the way up the stairs as well. This made for one hell of an atmosphere, and a sense of anticipation that grew to a frenzy as 9.30pm approached.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Kicking things off shortly after 7.30pm, Bitters were the first support band of the evening.

I confess that I hadn’t heard of them before – indeed, their debut single ‘Stole Your Car’ was only released last year – but they put on a performance that suggested a band with considerably more experience.

Fronted by Claudia Mills, the band launched into a short set that was a perfect complement to the indie-pop of Pale Waves, and an ideal choice for warming up the crowd in the run up to the main event.

Next on stage were Mancunian emo power-pop band Hot Milk, whose appearance received such a rapturous welcome that it felt like this a double headline event rather than a support band.

The reason for the audience reaction soon became clear, for here was a band for whom the word ‘dynamic’ is an understatement. Exploding onto the stage, it felt as though their songs were not merely played but unleashed.

Hot Milk opened with two songs from their most recent EP: ‘Split Personality’ and ‘I Just Wanna Know What Happens When I’m Dead’, powering through a stunning eight-song set.

The band’s bio says that they sing “sad songs with happy melodies”, which is perhaps the understatement of the year – their music positively crackles with vitality, whilst not shying away from difficult terrain.

Such a memorable performance threatened to be a hard act to follow, but Pales Waves were more than up to the task. Their appearance on the dot of 9.30pm saw the audience’s excitement reach a climax before they launched into ‘Change’, the opening track from their sophomore album ‘Who Am I?’.

Vocalist Heather Baron-Gracie has a compelling stage presence and a vocal expressiveness that is perfectly attuned to the lyrical content, skilfully exploring the emotional depths of each song while still allowing the upbeat melodies to shine through.

Baron-Gracie summed this up best in an interview with NME: “I want to make people dance at our shows and not kinda just cry: they can cry and dance.

There was certainly a lot of dancing in evidence during the sixteen-song set, which contained material from both of the band’s albums, ‘My Mind Makes Noises’ and ‘Who Am I?’. There were highlights aplenty, but one particular standout was when Baron-Gracie sat down with an acoustic guitar mid-set to perform ‘Odd Ones Out’.

Other standouts included an impassioned rendition of ‘Red’ from their debut album, and a performance of their new track ‘Jealousy’ which suggests that their forthcoming third album is something to look forward to.

After closing the set with ‘Easy’, the band returned to the stage to perform two encores: ‘She’s My Religion’ and ‘There’s A Honey’, while Baron-Gracie draped herself in a rainbow flag passed to her from the crowd, a reminder of the sense of inclusivity that unites these bands and their audience alike.

It was a perfect finale to an outstanding evening of music, and a reminder of how good – and how important – live music can be.


  1. Change
  2. Television Romance
  3. Eighteen
  4. Tomorrow
  5. Fall To Pieces
  6. One More Time
  7. Wish You Were Here
  8. Kiss
  9. Odd Ones Out
  10. Jealousy
  11. Red
  12. My Obsession
  13. The Tide
  14. Easy


  1. She’s My Religion
  2. There’s A Honey

Remaining tour dates:


14 O2 Academy Birmingham

16 O2 Academy Bournemouth

17 O2 Academy Leeds

19 Limelight, Belfast (sold out)

20 The Academy, Dublin

21 O2 Academy Glasgow

23 O2 Academy Sheffield

25 O2 Academy Leicester

26 O2 Academy Oxford (sold out)

28 Roundhouse, London

MARCH 2022

1 O2 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester

Social media:

Website: https://www.palewaves.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/palewaves

Twitter: https://twitter.com/palewaves

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/palewaves/

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