Live Review: Pale Waves at O2 Academy, Leeds [17th February 2022]

Dressed like a goth princess playing songs from eighties pop, Pale Waves are at Leeds Academy

It’s been almost 5 years since I first saw Pale Waves play the BBC Introducing Stage at Leeds Festival, since then they have gradually risen up the festival and gig league tables to a nice mid point position, not quite in the play offs just yet, but potential serious challengers.

It feels like it has sold out tonight as people are really crammed into the Academy but then you realise that they haven’t actually opened the balcony area.

New album Who Am I? released in 2021 spawned some nice singles Change, She’s My Religion and Easy, this is the first opportunity that they have had to tour the album due to obvious reasons, so plenty of pent up energy to be released on stage and in the crowd.

Opening with Change Heather Baron-Gracie stares into the crowd and with a simple “Hello Leeds Lets F*cking Go” she sways a little, and occasionally steps back out of the light to shake her head and rock out a bit. Keen to get the audience involved singing the chorus back she shows the mic for a sing song of Television Romance chorus and then into the ever popular Eighteen where she pulls out her custom made Vox Phantom guitar.

The one striking thing about Heather is just how small she is and that’s with these huge black goth boots that Gene Simmons from KISS would be envious of. How she operates her guitar pedals, I have no idea. A pint sized gothic princess – and there’s the juxtaposition, she’s dressed like Wednesday’s older sister from the Adams family, but playing songs that are more suited to eighties pop. It is a cool contrast and everyone here is completely sold on it, including me, although just once I’d like her to burst into some screamo.

It has the effect of feeling a little tame perhaps, not quite Paramore more like Haim, catchy pop melodies and singalong chorus’s rather than crowd surfing and punching the air.

The band are very tight though and played 16 songs from the new and older albums. Baron-Gracie managing a stunning solo acoustic version of Odd Ones Out and a new song Jealousy in the set.

Finally you get the feeling that they have stepped out of The 1975’s shadow and are ready to take on some bigger adventures with their own fans, and tonight showed some drive and purpose without really breaking much of a sweat.

Setlist:

  1. Change
  2. Television Romance
  3. Eighteen
  4. Tomorrow
  5. Fall To Pieces
  6. One More Time
  7. Wish You Were Here
  8. Kiss
  9. Odd Ones Out
  10. Jealousy
  11. Red
  12. My Obsession
  13. The Tide
  14. Easy

Encore:

  1. She’s My Religion
  2. There’s A Honey
Words and Photos John Hayhurst (@snapagig)