Controversial though they still were when they became famous, this early live footage makes you realize Frankie actually toned their act down.
I saw Wolf Alice again last week, that’s the second time this year. Don’t think I’ve seen the same band twice in one year since my early 20s, next I’ll be putting their posters on my bedroom wall and taping their live sessions off the radio. The kids still do that, right?
In the five months since the previous gig the London foursome have put out an album and done a shitload of touring, and as a result seem to be gaining an audience here in the States. Back in March I saw them in a small room in front of about 100 people, but this time the space was bigger and packed with, I guess, about 500 punters — not exactly a football stadium crowd but the vibe was very different too. Instead of merely curious onlookers, most of the crowd seemed to be partisan fans judging by the way they cheered and sang along to the songs. Nice to see that the band’s old-fashioned graft is paying off – as long as they don’t get too big, I don’t actually want to see them in a football stadium.
Having a bigger, enthusiastic crowd really helped the performance and they were even better than the first time. Good though they are at more gentle songs like “Swallowtail” (which they played live for the first time in the States), it’s on big riff monsters like “You’re A Germ” that they can really blow the roof off. If I was the sort of person who used the word “rock” as a verb I would do so. I left with the kind of happily satisfied buzz you only get from booze, sex, and great concerts.
Here’s some dodgy-quality video what I shot myself. I don’t think Jonathan Demme has anything to worry about.
The Pretenders were my favourite band in 1979 when this was filmed, even more than The Jam I think. I have a photo of me in my bedroom circa that year and there are three posters of them on the wall, and readers of this blog will know all about the massive crush I had on Chrissie Hynde, even writing letters to Smash Hits in her defense.
I was lucky enough to see the original line-up live in 1980 (with UB40 and Tenpole Tudor supporting) and I will carry the sight of Chrissie swaggering around stage in leather trousers until my dying day. The rest of the band were pretty good too as you can tell from this performance. Decided to post the entire show as it’s all great.
On Sunday night I braved a snow storm (another bloody one) to go and see Wolf Alice play live on their very first US tour. My motivation being that one day they might be famous, arena-playing rock stars and I can bore people to death by smugly telling the story of how I once saw them in a tiny club in front of about 100 people.
They should become famous if there’s any justice (though we all know there often isn’t): they have the songs, the riffs, and judging by the performance I saw, can do the business live too. For a band that has yet to put out it’s first album (finally arriving this June) they have the chops of a more seasoned outfit, though one still young and keen enough to have a good time onstage and act like they think rocking out in a band is like the greatest thing ever.
A good-size crowd turned up considering the weather and Wolf Alice’s low profile in the States, and right from the opening “Fluffy” to the closing “Moaning Lisa Smile” they made us all very glad that we had trudged through the snow to see them. The songs off the new album sounded great too. My only gripe is that they didn’t play an encore.
I did have a go at filming some video myself this time and captured about two minutes of them doing their rifftastic new single “Giant Peach” before deciding I’d rather just enjoy the concert without that bother.
That one drove the crowd nuts and literally had the floor shaking, but the lovely “Blush” was my favourite song of the evening. Here they are playing it the night before in New York.
If you’re interested there’s a recording of the whole gig here.
Give this a minute to get going and it’s quite fantastic. Blows the studio version out of the water which is saying something because I like that a lot.
This is the single PSB released after the massive “West End Girls” but it only got to #19 in the charts and there was a brief moment when I thought they were going to be one-hit wonders. Think it’s one of the loveliest records they made though.
PS: Is that Courtney Pine on sax? It is!
Imagine what Jerry Lee Lewis would have sounded like to a kid living in drab Manchester where this was filmed in the early 60s. Like an alien from another planet probably. No wonder this lot are going bonkers, and no wonder their parents thought rock and roll was dangerous.
Contender for greatest ever live performance on TV?
When “Gangsters” first came out The Specials (or The Special AKA as they were then) played at The Greyhound pub which was a small venue near us in Fulham. My sister asked me if I wanted to go and I said no for some reason. What a fucking idiot.