Dream Wife – Live Review – Leeds Wardrobe
By David Schuster, October 2018
This was one of my most eagerly awaited concerts this year. Back in May, when I reviewed Dream Wife’s awesome debut CD for On: Yorkshire Magazine, I was blown away by the immediacy and freshness of their post-punk sound. Could their live performance live up to the album?
“Wow!” Exclaims Rakel Mjöll, lead singer for the band, “This is a warm room!”. She’s not wrong. The Wardrobe in Leeds is sold out, and the room is packed. “Are you going to have a good night?” The crowd reaction seems to indicate agreement. And then we’re off into the opening numbers; ‘Spend the Night’ and ‘Lolita’. The latter is very apt. Mjöll has deliberately made herself look even more youthful; long blonde hair held back by a silver Alice-band, blue eye shadow and 80s-style tube top. Contrasting with this, she pouts and postures with exaggerated mock-sexiness across the low stage.
The sunken dance floor doubles nicely as a mosh pit, and I can see the crush at the front are already jumping, from my mosh-free vantage point. At this point they launch into ‘Fire’, one of their best tracks and the room erupts. Guitarist Alice Go twangs out a repeated guitar riff, backed by thumping bass from Bella Podpadec. This isn’t a one-character band, all three share the front of stage, Go in a hi-vis jacket and Podpadec with black lipstick and Odango anime hair style, that would make her fit nicely into the Gorillaz virtual line up. “We love the Leeds crowd”, shouts Mjöll. “You’re so f**king loud!” The assembled masses enthusiastically oblige.
Dream Wife have an important Me Too message: The song ‘Somebody’ makes the point powerfully with its repeated chorus of “I am not my body, I am somebody”, and the singer takes time to draw attention to their support of the Girls Rock music project, working for gender equality in the music industry.
“Crank up the energy”
But before they play, there’s some crowd management to be undertaken. “We’re not tall”, points out Rakel, indicating herself and the band. If you’re tall you were born lucky! Look behind you. Is there someone smaller than you behind you?” A woman next to me shouts “We are the smallest, at the back”. “Okay”, commands Mjöll, “If you’re small, and you want to be at the front, put your hand up.” It takes a few minutes and some good-natured laughter to achieve this, but when it’s done everyone, band and audience, crank up the energy even more. The band finish the main set strongly with ‘Let’s Make Out’, the opening track off their self-titled album and leave the stage.
Alice Go then does something I’ve not seen before; deliberately leaning her guitar against the amplifier, so that feedback screams across the empty stage. After a short time, drummer Alex Paveley returns to put a beat behind this wall of noise, followed shortly by Podpadec. It’s different, and impressive. The other two return to stage, and they seamlessly morph into ‘Hey Heartbreaker’ as the finale. At this point I see the silhouette of a fan crowd surf across the front of the stage, legs in the air, which pretty much summarises their reception.
Gig of the year so far.