With live shows on the comeback post lockdown, the pressure on artists to live up to expectations is at an all time high, a difficult feat for any artist to achieve. Add to this a last-minute support act pull out on doctor’s orders and typical British weather, and you have what I can only imagine to be a stressful day backstage to say the least. Nevertheless, Pale Waves delivered, making this year’s February 14th a Valentine’s Day to remember.
After half an hour queuing in the rain, and a minor ticket crisis in which a girl’s E-ticket was not in fact an E-ticket, but a postal, (plus an invite to a Pale Waves afterparty at Subside) we finally made it into the venue. The show opened with Bitters; an alt-pop band made up of four undeniably talented musicians. With their opening song, anyone miserable from the rain was soon uplifted, the energy they generated with their dynamic stage presence promising for an incredible show. Following up with their new, yet to be released single Cynical, Bitters owned the stage with this singalong rock track, then without losing momentum, reminded the crowd it was Valentine’s Day with a heartfelt love song. Solid, driving rhythms (Kamil Bartnik – drums, Harry Musso, bass) layered with infectious guitar riffs (Rich Saintclair), captivating vocal melodies (Claudia Mills) and a stylistic shout out to the 90’s, make Bitters a band to watch. Their electric performances are ones you won’t want to miss.
It’s not often that you find yourself in the middle of the crowd thinking, wow what a tough act to follow, about the support band, but Bitters set the bar high. Dreary weather long forgotten, the excitement in the air didn’t drop for a second, everyone in the audience singing along to Teenage Dirtbag by Wheatus and Girlfriend by Avril Lavigne, even going so far as to somehow start what I can only describe as a Katy Perry mosh pit to Teenage Dream, in the changeover. Suffice to say, Pale Waves came out energised and ready to impress, encouraging the already buzzing crowd to clap, cheer, dance, any way you could think of expressing unadulterated joy at a gig, this crowd was doing it and loving it.
Playing a range of songs from both their 2018 album My Mind Makes Noises and their 2021 album Who Am I?, Pale Waves exceeded expectations from the notoriously hard to impress Birmingham crowd (after all, the second city is home to a huge array of exceptional music). From powerful rock singalongs such as Red to softer, emotional tracks such as Odd Ones Out, Pale Waves managed to captivate their audience for their entire set, the crowd a sea of phone flashlights and avid fans on shoulders waving in time to the band’s stellar performance. Eventually the lights go out and the band leave the stage, leaving fans chanting “one more song!”, disbelieving the show had ended so soon. Two minutes later and our doubts were proven right with a voice over from vocalist Heather Baron-Gracie, leading into fan favourite, She’s My Religion and ending the show on a high note with hit track Eighteen.
Show over and leaving the venue, the buzz of the show endured, t-shirts and other assorted merch lining the outside of the O2 Academy Birmingham, sellers calling out “One pound a poster!”, not unlike a bustling marketplace. This was a night of powerhouse frontwomen, impressive stage presence and above all, amazing music that generated an air of palpable excitement. Theirs is a show you won’t want to miss; you can buy tickets for the remaining tour dates here.
Pale Waves UK & EU Tour Dates 2022
February 19th – Limelight – Belfast, United Kingdom
February 20th – The Academy, Middle Abbey Street – Dublin, Ireland
February 21st – O2 Academy Glasgow – Glasgow, United Kingdom
February 23rd – O2 Academy Sheffield – Sheffield, United Kingdom
February 25th – O2 Academy Leicester – Leicester, United Kingdom
February 26th – O2 Academy Oxford – Oxford, United Kingdom
February 28th – Roundhouse – London, United Kingdom
March 1st – Victoria Warehouse – Manchester, United Kingdom
May 28th – Neighbourhood Weekender 2022 – Warrington, United Kingdom
May 29th – Victoria Park – Warrington, United Kingdom
June 12th – Tempelhof Sounds – Berlin, Germany
July 7th – Mad Cool Festival 2022 – Madrid, Spain
August 24th – Bramham Park – Leeds, United Kingdom
August 26th – Leeds Festival 2022 – Leeds, United Kingdom
August 28th – Reading Festival 2022 – Reading, United Kingdom