PALE WAVES: live in Glasgow’s O2 Academy

As bands and artists start to re-emerge from under the giant pandemic shaped rock that’s been sat on top of us all for the most part of two years, it would be completely understandable if it took a while to get back into the swing of live shows again, but, taking to the stage at nine thirty on a Saturday night in Glasgow’s O2 Academy, Pale Waves bounced through their set slicker, punchier and tighter than ever before.

Support came from the ridiculously cool ‘Bitters,’ and a current favourite band of mine, Hot Milk. Both an extremely good fit for the feel of the night – and both had the crowd in the academy glued to the stage… only looking away to open up pits and bounce around like you’d fully expect from a crowd of pop punk fans.

Hot Milk

Hot Milk’s set didn’t come without it’s minor live incidents – a stray cable had bass player, Tom, playing from the back of the stage for a few tracks – coupled with a flying mic stand – made it look like the universe had it out for the band, but they battered through the challenges and still delivered a cracking set. I saw their first headline tour when it came to the Cathouse last year & even in such a short time, their stage presence has sky rocketed, and singer/guitarist Han is possibly one of the coolest front women on the scene at the moment. Ending their set with a bang and a very rock n roll guitar toss, confirmed that they were only going up from this tour – definitely a band for you to keep an eye on!

As the pints were poured, and the Avril Lavigne/Paramore/Olivia Rodrigo shaped playlist hummed along in the background, fans were gearing up for the main event of the night – and after two reschedules, the excitement levels in the room could be physically seen, as well as heard.

The lights dimmed, the crowd roared and Heather Baron Gracie, Ciara Doran, Hugo Silvani & Charlie Wood appeared from the darkness on stage. Kicking off their set with recent single Change from their latest album ‘Who Am I?’

The band had rescheduled the gig in the weeks previous because Heather had lost her voice, but as she flew threw each track with complete ease & control, you’d never have clicked on if you didn’t know! I’d go as far to say this was the bands’ tightest performance that I’ve witnessed to date. There was not one even slightly ropey note to be heard across the entire night.

Firing through a set perfectly composed of a mix of tracks from both of their albums, the crowd screamed along to both fan favourites from 2018’s ‘My Mind Makes Noises’ and newer tracks from the latest album, released during lockdown last year.

Attracting a mixed crowd, Pale Waves fans in Glasgow appeared to be everyone you could possibly imagine. A group of uni students with wild coloured hair danced in a circle in front of us the entire night, having the absolute time of their lives without a care in the world, whilst to the side a couple of guys in their late 20s stood in puffer jackets head bobbing along. To the other side, a middle aged man dressed head to toe in merch was transfixed the entire night, with what appeared to be his daughter in tow. A real mix of people, all appreciating the Manchester based indie-pop-punk-rock band as a collective, and lapping up every second.

Slowing things down with album track ‘Odd Ones Out‘ had the crowd swaying along with phone torches in the air lighting the O2, to then bounce back into new, unreleased track ‘Jealousy‘ – in which drummer Ciara invited a fan on stage to take over her sticks. The unnamed fan had the band in shock with her skills and after handing back the drumsticks to Ciara, left the stage with the world’s biggest grin. Matching many people in the crowds’ for the entire set.

As the band “finished” their set with ‘Easy‘ it was clear there was a demand for an encore, which, obviously, was delivered after a short spiel of the classic Glaswegian ‘here we, here we’ chanting, in the form of hit singles ‘She’s My Religion‘ and ‘There’s a Honey.’

As fans spilled out onto the street after the gig – sweaty, chattering and singing – it was clear that the show would not be forgotten any time soon. From the six or seven times I’ve seen the band live now, I’m 100% certain that this was their best show I’ve seen yet. Pale Waves are better live than ever, and with Heather Baron Gracie’s incredible talent as a front woman, it doesn’t look like they’ll be slowing down any time soon.

Full Setlist:




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