On a night which offers little to the imagination, Manchester’s gig calendar kindly bestows a pearl of contrast. The inspired alliance of Dream Wife and the Vaccines is one of those must-see moments that arrive oh so rarely – and in this case, ever so timely. Taking residence in the city’s largest Academy building, the night begins as it plans to go on: Unapologetic and merry.
The joining together of punk’s new class and one of indie’s greatest successes, is certain to raise a few beers and set pulses rising, so it’s not unusual when we see two crutches elevated towards the sky at their earliest convenience and a widespread sea of people on shoulders. The energy is stifling; both bands capture a blazing ferocity that is too palpable to simply ignore, igniting a passion within the crowd that goes much further than straightforward enjoyment, it’s deeper than that: Something almost primal.
Dream Wife’s live intensity is riling, captivating, infectious; the performance is a manifestation of women’s anger – an opening to the wider conversation. A form of resistance against gender stereotyping and a true rally cry that speaks volumes. It feels important – and it is important. Music rarely takes a stand in 2018, so it’s fantastic to see bands like Dream Wife who stand for something, who incite change, who thrill nuance in their music.
The trio (Rakel Mjöll, Alice Go and Bella Podpadec) excite, each moment is spontaneous yet instinctual, allowing members of the crowd to share in the experience as it develops, each absorbing a piece of the exhilaration. Opening with ‘Hey Heartbreaker,’ Dream Wife propel forth into rip-roaring disruption, a gregarious implosion of guitar, drum and bass snakes about voluminous, chant-like shouts – as one of the leading singles in their oeuvre, ‘Hey Heartbreaker’ really does capture Dream Wife at maximum impact.
Rakel delivers lyrics as short, bristled interjections, bringing to mind the incendiary abrasiveness of Iggy Pop’s incisive delivery on Stooges’ I Wanna Be Your Dog. In a written context, lines like: “I’m gonna fuck you up, gonna cut you up, gonna fuck you up/ And then I’m gonna fuck you up, gonna cut you up, gonna fuck you up” (taken from set closer ‘F.U.U’), don’t exactly inspire a great deal of thought, but hearing the confidence the band asserts with these lines in a live context, changes one’s outlook. Whilst on the surface, threats riddled with profanity seem to be the obvious (and easiest) choice to provoke a reaction, when powered by Rakel’s knowing grin and assertive charisma, any confusion renders itself futile. Adding thrust to the attack, Alice Go’s guitar charges along at a fevered pace, flinging barbed riffery all over the place, while Bella Podpadec’s bass asserts each passage with more driving groove and control.
Later on, the Vaccines confess their own admiration for the band – and it’s so easy to understand why.
Dream Wife’s debut album, Dream Wife, is out now via Lucky Number – various formats and bundles can be purchased here.
Photos by Gaz Haywood