The ripples Pale Waves make may not be especially original, but they create a huge swell and the Forum loves to surf them. This is down to electric, PVC clad front woman and force of nature, Heather Baron-Gracie. She’s part Avril Lavigne, part Joan Jett and blonde for now, with the cadence in her voice of an indie Madonna. The Forum is the perfect venue for the Manchester outfit’s blast of gritty indie rock, the sweat of so many pugnacious bands of yesteryear slicked into its walls. Nods to Wheatus, notes of U2 even, songs blur into one kick ass, anthemic grunge.
“London, how are yer feeling?” HBG cries. The adulation is palpable as the crowd reverbs on her every word. She’s ably backed by Ciaran Doran on drums, Hugo Silvani on lead and Charlie Wood on bass for three albums of soul searching and irresistible chords. The sticky stuff of relationships and gender politics are her trademark. “This is one of those days where I’ve been feeling anxious all day.” Mid set there are props to skew the visual dynamic. As ever she unfurls an LGBTQ flag on Clean, one of the best tracks from latest release, Unwanted, before donning a pink stetson for Change and hauling an audience member onto a stool for a cover of Dove Cameron’s Boyfriend; a song for girls who’ve “dragged their boyfriends along”. Red’s more optimistic melody, from My Mind Makes Noise, is pure pop. The set ends with a wistful, acoustic track The Hard Way before the memorable homage to a lover She’s My Religion, lighting up debut album Who Am I? and the worldly stomp of Jealousy.
A band playing on hot shingle delivering a raucous night.
Words by Adrian Cross