PALE WAVES + HOT MILK + BITTERS @ THE ROUNDHOUSE, LONDON 28TH FEBRUARY 2022
Manchester’s Pale Waves seem to have come far in a short time, their first single being released in 2017 and now riding high on the back of their highly regarded second album, Who Am I?. After blowing away the likes of BBC Sounds and the NME with their debut album in 2018, this is undoubtedly an upwards projection, and they are skyrocketing.
But before we get to the delights of the headliners, we’ve two support acts and first up is Bitters, hailing from Liverpool and just back from LA with the task of opening the show, and they kick things off nicely with a short but sweet eight-song set.
Bitters are alt-pop/rock reminiscent of a sound coming out of America in the late 90s. This is no bad thing topped off with the beautiful vocals courtesy of Claudia Mills, which envokes Wendy James and The Cardigans Nina Persson, and we have a crowd-pleasing set.
Highlights are opener ‘Sick’, the grooving ‘Cynical’, the up-tempo ‘Screwed Off’ with its Van Halenesque guitar riff and set closer ‘Stole Your Car’, which you can check out on Spotify. I think we will be seeing more of this band in the future. Mills certainly has the look and the voice and is backed by a solid band.
Main support tonight also come from Manchester and are the emo power-pop Hot Milk and are fronted by Jim Shaw and Han Mee, both sharing vocals and guitar duties and backed up on bass by Tom Paton and on drums Harry Dellar.
As soon as they burst onto the stage and straight into the opening number, ‘Split Personality’, I knew straight away I was going to enjoy the set and far more than I’d imagined. They have a lot in common with Wargasm but are more melodic and sure know how to pen a catchy number. Live they come across a lot heavier than they are on record, which elevates them in my eyes even further.
They blast through a set culled from their latest EP and singles, and every track has the crowd going nuts. When Han Mee dons the guitar, she reminds me of a young Joan Jett, in a sleeveless white t-shirt, cream leather look pants and brothel creepers. She’s all sweat and swagger with enough energy to fuel a small country.
Hard to pick highlights as the whole set is so damn good but pushed would be ‘I JUST WANNA KNOW WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I’M DEAD’ and ‘Glass Spiders’ with an honourable mention to new track ‘Bad Influence’, which is another crushing number and definitely not pop! So please do yourself a favour and catch this band live now before they explode.
Tonight at Camden’s iconic Roundhouse is Pale Waves’ biggest headline show to date, with a capacity of around 3300, and I can only see them filling even larger venues in the not too distant future.
The band come on to some wild strobes, which light up the venue and burst into the hit ‘Change’, which soon gets this capacity crowd jumping. Vocalist Heather Baron-Gracie dressed in a stunning black satin top with feather cuffs, black calf-length platform boots and now sports a short blond hairstyle that complements the look with a fantastic black Vox guitar strapped across her shoulder. The vocalist is backed by second guitarist Hugo Silvani, bassist Charlie Wood and keeping the beat at the back Ciara Doran.
The band power through a set cut from both the latest album and their debut with ‘Television Romance’ and ‘Eighteen’ sounding as fresh as the later hits ‘Fall To Pieces’, ‘Easy’ and the aforementioned ‘Changes’ and get just as much respect from a crowd of mainly 20-somethings, who delight in singing back every word. I even see a few tear-stained faces during the beautiful ‘ Wish U Were Here’. The night’s highlight for me, though, was new track ‘Jealousy’, which kicks things up a notch with a cracking heavy guitar riff and huge sing-a-long chorus and a future hit single if it gets the chance. The set finishes with an encore of fan favourite She’s My Religion and their first release, ‘There’s A Honey’, which perfectly tops off a fantastic night in Camden town.
A special mention needs to go out to the team behind the lighting design this evening as it’s the most spectacular I’ve seen so far this year, not only lighting up the stage but also the incredible structure of the Roundhouse, from the back of the venue it just looks stunning.