Pale Waves @ O2 Academy Birmingham
Lucy headed down to the Birmingham headline show from Manchester indie rockers Pale Waves.
You can tell a lot, if not everything, about an artist from their live performance. Walking into the venue with an excited friend on my arm and a blank sheet of expectations in mind, I was all too keen to see exactly what was to ensue. Listening to only a handful of songs prior from said friend’s recommendation and warming to them instantly, I was intrigued to see exactly what Pale Waves were all about.
We walked in just as support act Sports Team were playing, grabbed a drink, and waded our way through the crowd to find a good spot to enjoy the music. I was familiar with the name but had yet to hear Sports Team, and wow. You know those moments where you think ‘there’s something truly special going on here’? Well that’s how it felt. Lead singer Alex Rice was a true showman, filling the stage with character and enthusiasm, being a true representation of their essence – wild, energetic, and pure cool. Keyboardist Ben Mac amusingly contrasted the exuberance of Alex, staring with a straight face mercilessly into the crowd. Surprisingly, it proved largely enjoyable to stare back but with a smile and a laugh due to the purposeful irony, which worked ever in the band’s favour for a standout show. The perfect energiser.
"[Baron-Gracie's] stage presence is absolutely mesmerising and set me in a trance, constantly looking towards the crowd and soaking up the pleasantries of the thousands of bouncing faces."
It wasn’t long before the white lights went down and the smoky red hue replaced them. Excitement filled the venue, to be met with the gradual arrival of the band, Baron-Gracie last. Guitars and drumsticks are sported and the familiar synths of Eighteen played. I have to say the excitement was thoroughly contagious and I grabbed my friend’s hand pulling her up and down with me while we shouted the lyrics with everything we had. The gig started with a high and we were all raring for more. My ears were greeted with fresh songs that I hadn’t yet heard, which I followed up on Spotify when I got home; Came in Close and My Obsession were particular favourites I came away with. Television Romance and The Tide were already staples of my Spotify account and it felt even better to hear them live, with just as much bounce as their studio counterparts.
There’s a clear distinction between artists who play their songs live as recitals, and artists who play their songs as if for the first time all over again; passion is key. Baron-Gracie captured this entirely, truly performing every song with her heart. Her stage presence is absolutely mesmerising and set me in a trance, constantly looking towards the crowd and soaking up the pleasantries of the thousands of bouncing faces. The atmosphere the band created was that of nostalgic, 80s dreaminess and it was a blessing to be a part of the space. I’m a massive fan of bands reworking inspiration from key music eras and adored this vibe rippling through the venue. It was intoxicating and left me pining for more of it.
"I can’t recommend seeing this quartet enough; a night of travelling back in time with a refreshing rework of what you might think you’ve heard before."
A moving rendition of Karl (I Wonder What It's Like To Die) finished off the main set, with nothing else but Baron-Gracie and the crowds vocals filling the space; everyone perfectly in tune with the solemnness and sincerity of the song. The band were brought back on and finished the entire set with their first single There’s a Honey, with Baron-Gracie coming to the barrier and reaching out to the crowd with punters grasping at the opportunity to get that bit closer.
Pale Waves are clearly leaders in today’s alternative music scene, with emotive lyricism demonstrated through dreamy synths and guitars. I can’t recommend seeing this quartet enough; a night of travelling back in time with a refreshing rework of what you might think you’ve heard before.