By Jake Paterson, Co-Deputy Music Editor
Gracing us with songs from their new album Unwanted - an exploration into trauma, jealousy, and anger - the setting of misty rain after a period of formidable heat was apt for the catharsis of breaking down these internal emotions towards an outward display of beauty and vulnerability.
Having only released their second album Who Am I? last year, Unwanted arrives at a time where the music curated by Pale Waves is violently live, having been on the road without pause since February, including a run supporting 5 Seconds of Summer across the US, with their own US tour set to commence in September. These tracks on record are direct, loud, and volatile.
Yet stripped away from the pastiche of The 1975 produced sound of their debut or the heavy callbacks to 2000s pop-punk artists like Avril Lavigne and Paramore, the acoustic setting created the space for one thing – frontwoman Heather Baron-Gracie's incandescent songwriting.
The energy swelled around her, particularly during the glittering 'There's a Honey'. A rarity for this tour and a self-proclaimed last-minute decision, almost everyone remained in silence, despite having screamed along to the chorus of unrequited love in their bedrooms for almost five years. Heather labelled the 2017 single the "sad version", allowing us to hear it at its most vulnerable.
Truly, the show was less widescreen power ballad and more quiet meditation. Heather was chatty throughout, musing on the people in the front row of the sold-out show for their old merch, recalling their first US tour and memories of bad experiences with vodka in LA, slating the people in the crowd who still touch the stuff. Having spent an unruly amount on vodka in my first year it was a sign of the same bewildered hedonism that comes with a first lucrative tour leaning towards annihilation.
It was safe to say, then, that a fair amount of growing up has happened since then. Comprising of many fans brandishing pre-pandemic t-shirts, newer fans and even fathers and daughters seemingly at their first ever show, the audience was quiet in admiration. When Heather asked what everyone’s favourite track on the new record was, she was met with a myriad of responses, everyone taking the record to a different set of their own experiences.
Traversing three further songs from Unwanted: 'Lies', 'Unwanted', and 'Jealousy', we were further transported into Heather’s aura. Sitting alongside was lead guitarist Hugo Silvani, who guided us through each track with discreet and effortless energy.
The only faults with the show came with its length. It was tantalisingly short as a result of the signing afterwards, with the 200 capacity audience all queueing up with their cds and lps. I was left in the live back room for about half an hour before the queue had died down enough to let us leave, with everyone desperate to share a few words with the full band after the show.
These moments sat in the empty live room left a rumination of the delicate moments of anticipation for more from Pale Waves. A full live show is where their music truly will come alive, but for a glimpse into these tracks' more vulnerable state, it was a moment to treasure.
Featured image: Katia Temkin / Ian Cheek Press
Have you seen Pale Waves live?