Date: April 15th, 2017
Venue: Whelans, Dublin
Line-up: Chelsea Wolfe + Wife
When Chelsea Wolfe released the first single, ‘Carrion Flowers’, from her fourth album Abyss I knew I was onto something special; the album subsequently went on to become my top album of 2015, and her Dublin show that same year was also one of the year’s highlights. Fast forward almost 2 years and Wolfe returns to Ireland as part of her European spring mini-tour.
Opening the show was an Irish act called Wife, a solo electronic music project spear-headed by Altar of Plagues mainman James Kelly. I can’t claim to be an expert or even a fan of the genre but the performance is all that matters for this review. James stood alone on the stage accompanied by two boards of electronics, keys, etc and a microphone. I was quickly impressed by his proficiency and perfectionist approach to his performance, multitasking between the different layers of his music while also providing all the vocals can’t be easy. It wasn’t just the music; he had lots of lighting patterns and strobes to match the range of intensity of the beats. James introduced himself, even joking a little that the last time he played in Whelan’s that he was screaming his head off, before sadly running out of time for his last track.
Chelsea Wolfe and her band soon took to the stage and wasted no time in getting started with the driving beat of ‘Feral Love’ and the industrial crescendo of ‘Carrion Flowers’. These tracks lent themselves well to Whelan’s more intimate setting and blinding light show.
Wolfe’s last show in Dublin was in support of the then newly released Abyss so much of the setlist was taken from that album, this time however there was a little more freedom in the range of material played. While normally a woman of few words, Wolfe explained that the band had just finished recording a new album and so we were treated to two new tracks, ‘The Culling’ and ‘Static Hum’. The album won’t be released until later in the year but I can tell from the new material it will be another fine mix of drone-like folk and doom.
If you’ve listened to Wolfe’s studio material you know that she uses a large amount of reverb on her vocals, a trait that comes to the stage with mixed results meaning that at times the vocals sounded great, almost soaring, but other times it was drowned out by the heavy distorted guitars.
The back-to-back of ‘We Hit a Wall’ and ‘House of Metal’ brought many fans in the crowd back to when they first heard Wolfe’s music, the former being strangely upbeat and the later given a more guitar based delivery compared to the studio version. The Abyss tracks also satisfied the metal fans in the crowd with its heavy doom-laden songs ‘Iron Moon’ and ‘Dragged Out’. Many older tracks reared their heads as well like the smothering atmosphere of ‘Pale on Pale’ and, to close the show, the strangely hypnotic ‘Moses’.
We Hit a Wall
House of Metal
After the Fall
Pale on Pale
Tracks (Tall Bodies)