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Gig Review : Wolf Alice were Formidably Cool in Belfast

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Review by Ivor Whitten for MPM

Summer may be at an end, but the number of gigs on the go just keep growing and the wonderful promoters at MCD were determined to make full use of the Telegraph Building in Belfast.

Tonight was a very special night with a taste of Ulster and London all mixed in.

The evening began with a light smoky atmosphere and soft strobing that seemed to immediately put you in the frame of a stage performance.

And to the roars of the already well packed hall, on came Just Mustard, a five piece band hailing from the more southerly part of the old province of Ulster, Dundalk.

A town steeped in the legends of the Red Branch and where Cu Chulainn had his last stand and now seemingly producing a new legend, that of Just Mustard.

From the very start, singer Katie Ball and her band mates David Noonan, Mete Kalyon, Rob Clarke and Shane Maguire produced what can only be described as a heart pounding and rhythmically thumping rock intertwined with trance like trip hop.

You could not only hear but you could feel the hammering low bass and thunderous drums as they thrummed alongside the feedback filled guitars and Katie’s incredible elfin like vocals.

Its like psychedelic indie rock wrapped up with a soothing lullaby voice that just captures all your attention and floats you along.

With songs like “Seven”, “I am You”, “Mirrors”, “Tainted”, “Still” and “Seed” you are delivered a smorgasbord of Celtic transfixing lament-like tunes and vocals, punctuated with deep vibrating tones vibrating the very air around you lulling you into an almost trance like state. Indeed, it felt sometimes that their music would fit perfectly into ‘Vikings’.

The roar of approval and appreciation was deafening when they had finished and the setup for the headliners began.

The lights strobed and on came Wolf Alice to a thunderous roar from the very well packed sold out show. They seemed immediately at ease and determined to enjoy themselves while in Belfast. It showed how much they were appreciated too as the crowd began to shout and roar in joy with every move they made, and that was before a note was played. Ellie Rowsell, Jeff Oddie, Theo Ellis and Joel Amey were also joined on stage with their tour keyboardist Ryan Malcolm.

With a “It’s really good being here” they delivered a truly inspired performance that had a light touch of the theatrical about it.

“Smile”, “You’re a Germ”, “Formidable Cool”, “Delicious Things” and “Lipstick on the Glass” showed quite clearly to everyone that this band has an eclectic approach, able to deliver soft slow numbers right beside solid rocking tunes. As they delivered each one the crowd had smiles on their faces from ear to ear, as they danced swayed jumped and waved their arms in pure delight singing along with Ellie.

On they went with “Planet Hunter”, “Bros”, “Safe From Heartbreak”, “How Can I Make It OK?” and “Play the Greatest Hits”. Ellie’s soprano voice making light work of each song, floating like a light breeze one moment and screaming in an almost controlled rage in the next but always with her distinguished sound.

The crowd just went wild and did not need much encouragement to do so. To be there and experience Wolf Alice live is a privilege all its own. They work together perfectly in sync making every moment look so easy. And when it looks that easy, you can be absolutely assured this can only be pulled off by a band that works very hard at their vocation.

“Feeling Myself”, “Silk”, “Visions of a Life”, “Moaning Lisa Smile”, “No Hard Feelings” and “Giant Peach” rounded off the full on performance ably supported by the lighting and light dusty smoke to heightened their already impressive stage presence.

An encore of “The Last Man on Earth” and “Don’t Delete the Kisses” rounded of an incredible set and a truly fantastic evening.

Just Mustard was an inspired choice to support Wolf Alice, as both were similar in style but very different in execution. They complimented each other, but either could have just performed on their own all night and the crowd would still have gone home with the same satisfied smiles.

If you get the chance to see either, take it. Wolf Alice are on top of their game and well worth the ticket, there is no short cuts with this group. Just Mustard are on the up and produce such a sound that while it is modern gives you that nostalgic feel old style experimental noise rock, especially with their use of guitar feedback as an instrument in itself.

As Wolf Alice continue their tour you can see if they are going to be near you at https://wolfalice.co.uk/

Check out Just Mustard on tour as well at https://justmustard.ie/tour

This is but one gig organised by the likes of MCD at the Telegraph Building and you can find out more gigs to go and see at https://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/the-telegraph-building-tickets-belfast/venue/461708

Photography by Paul Verner for MPM

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