This past Friday night, The Metro hosted an unforgettable show with Wolf Alice and The Big Pink
After fellow Londoners in The Big Pink warmed up the already jam-packed Wrigleyville venue, the crowd buzzed with anticipation for Wolf Alice to take the stage. Returning for the first time since July, when they played a special, one-off show at Schubas Tavern, the four piece had yet to play Chicago since the September 2017 release date of their sophomore album, Visions of a Life. For many of the fans at The Metro, this would be their first time seeing Wolf Alice in years, as their special Schubas show sold out in minutes, allowing just under 200 lucky fans to get tickets.
This time, more than 1,000 enthusiastic fans enthusiastically soaked up Wolf Alice’s remarkable live show. Very few bands are able to create something as special as Wolf Alice does, without any fancy bells and whistles or special effects; their live shows are driven by each band member leaving everything they have on the stage each and every night. Throughout the band’s entire discography, lead singer and guitarist Ellie Rowsell has demonstrated an incredible, emotive ability with her vocal range and technique, singing in a delicate falsetto in one song (or even one moment of a song), before transitioning right into a hearty growl in another. Live, Rowsell not only keeps up with her vocal ability in the studio version, she amplifies the power behind each and every lyric. Just like Rowsell throws her emotions and entire energy into her singing onstage, she and her bandmates all do the same with their instrument playing. Throughout the show, bassist Theo Ellis and guitarist Joff Oddie remained in motion the entire time, flinging around their guitars, holding their instruments up, and stepping out onto the edge of the stage to add even more passion into their already energetic playing.
The concert on Friday acted not just as a return for Wolf Alice to play new songs, but it happened to be the band’s biggest headlining concert in Chicago yet, Ellis told the crowd. Despite the size of the crowd, everyone remained hooked on the show the whole time as the band played through songs old and new. Wolf Alice kept the audience on their toes as they weaved in songs from 2015’s My Love Is Cool with 2017’s Visions of a Life, following up new songs like “Don’t Delete The Kisses” and “Planet Hunter” with “Bros” and “Lisbon” from the debut record. When the set started winding down, Wolf Alice treated the crowd to a surprise, when they brought out a fan to accompany them during their hit “Moaning Lisa Smile.” Prior to the show, the band had tweeted asking for fans to send them videos of them playing the track on guitar, and guitarist Elaine Simmons from St. Louis made the cut. Simmons took over the guitar playing for Rowsell, allowing Rowsell to have the freedom to roam around on stage rather than remaining stationary by her microphone stand.
After an explosive performance of the fast-paced song “Fluffy,” the band left the stage, only to be summoned back for an encore. Juxtaposing the gritty performance of “Fluffy,” the encore started with the goosebump-inducing and stripped back track “Blush” from the band’s earliest EP. Rowsell commanded the sold out crowd’s attention with just her voice and guitar at the start of the song, and even as the song built up, the audience remained hypnotized. The spell broke and everyone went wild for the final song of the night; “Giant Peach." Rowsell ended the magical evening on a high note, stagediving and crowdsurfing at then end of the song.
This show may have been Wolf Alice's biggest Chicago show yet, but as the sea of devoted fans filed out of the theatre with huge smiles plastered on their faces, it was clear that the band will be warmly welcomed back, only to play bigger and bigger venues.
Photos of The Big Pink and Wolf Alice at Metro 3/30/18