It was only when the dates for the Gypsy Caravan Tour were announced, I realised something: I haven’t seen Wolfmother. That was something I had to rectify, especially given their latest album is their best since the self-titled debut.
Arriving just after doors opening, I walked straight into the Academy, a first in – probably at this point – years. I’ve never found doors to be punctual here and the rest of the time, I’ve actually queued to get in, like several hours when Slash and Biffy Clyro decided to tear the place a new one. Anyway, as I walked in, I grabbed some water from the bar and surveyed below me. The floor was looking rather sparse and had I wished, I could have snagged a spot at the barrier. Instead, I went for my usual spot in the Academy – the sound desk. It’s normally got the best acoustics in a venue where position really is key.
Support act Electric Citizen were making their UK debut opening for Wolfmother and by extension, their first time in Glasgow. Arriving onstage to no fanfare and a room as black as that coffin you have fears of being buried alive in, the band did a suitable job of warming up the crowd. Swapping 60s chic and blues for leather and a whole lot of fuzz, they weren’t too dissimilar to Blues Pills and given who they were opening for, it made for a good match.
Laura Dolan doesn’t stay in one spot for too long, gesticulating wildly with her arms in time with the music. However, that’s where the US-based lot lost me. Normally one of my biggest complaints in a gig is the vocals being buried in the mix but here, it overpowered everything and it seems Dolan doesn’t have the strongest set of pipes, her voice coming across pretty flat. Alongside that, it’s another band aiming for a more retro-based sound, which is fine as a lot of upcoming bands are doing it and most do it with their own twist but there was nothing here to capture my attention and make me go “Oh, that’s new”.
All things considered, I’m the one making comments about their performance whilst they’re the ones out actually doing it. Certainly, I’ve seen far worse opening bands, some who shouldn’t even be named. With the crowd having similar thoughts – smatterings of polite applause and the only movement being people inching further forward, a couple of the people beside me are more vocal about Electric Citizen, seemingly glad to have seen the last of them.
Wolfmother arrive onstage rather promptly to roars of approval, kicking things off with the raucous “Victorious” from the album of the same name before the deep dive of “New Moon Rising”. Then, things get kicked up a notch or three; the floor below me becomes a moving and swelling mass as the instantly recognisable riff of “Woman” fires up the crowd.
And from there, it’s pretty much how the rest of the night went. As setlists go, it’s probably one of the safest I’ve seen. There was nothing out of the ordinary, playing the vast majority of the self-titled debut which went on to make up roughly half of the setlist, the rest came from Victorious with the campfire singalong “Pretty Peggy”, “Gypsy Caravan”, “The Love That You Give” and “The Simple Life”. Throwing in a couple from Cosmic Egg and a whole one from New Crown, it’s obvious where the crowd-pleasers sit alongside trying to balance the set with songs from the album the band are currently touring in support of.
Musically, they’re an incredibly tight three-piece. Although with Andrew Stockdale leading the band, I’d expect nothing less. The fuzzy, equal parts blues and psychedelic infused hard rock was a break from the norm when Wolfmother first appeared and by playing a venue this size, it shows their appeal has endured. Rightly so. The only fly in the ointment was, again, vocals. Stockdale’s falsetto was sat on top of his own guitar as it struggled to make itself heard, gasping for breath. A couple of songs in and it was largely sorted.
While Wolfmother’s fate may firmly be in Stockdale’s hands, there is a sense of the band being a unit rather than bassist Ian Peres and drummer Alex Carapetis acting as hired hands. Alright, so Stockdale writes the lyrics, guitar riffs, bass lines and he had two different drummers lay down what he wanted for Victorious but he says it works. And up to a point, I can see the logic in the thought process, even if it’s a bit twisted. In essence, it should make for tighter songs as it’s one man’s vision. Digression aside, both Peres and Carapetis throw everything they have into the show, Peres especially as he bounds about the stage, switching effortlessly from bass to keyboards and back again to jump about like an excited Spaniel (his hair only adds further credit to that metaphor). Carapetis hides himself behind one of the biggest drumkits I’ve seen in a while. Though that may say more in my recent listenings as most bands I’ve seen recently have had a far more stark kit. However, he uses each piece of it and not just for the fun of it.
As “Colossal” finishes, drawn out notes stretched to the end, it’s come at the right time. Most Wolfmother songs are relatively short, doing what they have to and not overstaying their welcome. As such, there’s just shy of twenty songs on the night. “Vagabond” and “Joker and the Thief” end the show and with the latter, the crowd which refused to stop moving for most of the set dig deep into the reserves and unleash just an extra bit of hell, going full pelt.
And with that, it’s a case of “Until next time”. Not known for being a regular fixture on the calendar, we’ll probably have to wait until the next album and honestly, I’m quite alright with that. There will be plenty to tide us over.