Wu Lyf - Live At Heaven, London

A fitting end?
Wu Lyf - Live At Heaven, London
It's hard to think of any band that sound like or even present themselves in the way that Wu Lyf do. For two years they kept their identity a secret. They didn't approach the press or even play live until they brought out their fine debut LP ‘Go Tell Fire To The Mountain’ last summer. Tonight is the first of two sold-out dates at Heaven in London that mark the climax of their tour. As the band’s emblem shines proudly at the back, the Manchester quartet hit the stage with nothing in the way of an introduction. It begins an intriguing and slightly weird live show.

Amidst all the mystery that surrounds them, it can be often forgotten that the songs they write are huge-sounding and sometimes with a great big hook wedged in (see the supreme 'Spitting Blood'). They're sung with enormous amounts of intensity at times, it can be euphoric but it takes a while for the band to really loosen up. The first fifteen minutes sees them play in near-darkness and it's hard to see their faces due to the purposely dim lights. Even singer Ellery James Roberts seems a little bit frayed – stopping 'Such A Sad Puppy Dog' abruptly – his raspy growl is even more full of nervous energy than usual. Eventually though, as 'Spitting Blood' segues nicely into 'Dirt', they find their feet and start to ramp it up a gear or two.

The set sticks to most of ‘Go Tell Fire To The Mountain’ with the odd random cover here and there and, for the most part, it sounds just as frenetic live as it does on record. It's also apparent quite early on that they're all superb musicians – a fact that may have been lost amidst all the fuss surrounding them. Guitars chime loudly to provide an eerie and spooky atmosphere underneath the arches whilst basslines are given space to breathe. There's no clutter and no jumbled-up wall-of-sound to be heard.

When they do take a breather from their own material the set loses quite a bit of momentum and the band in general just isn't as alluring; a cover of a largely instrumental Papa M track called 'Krusty' is some comedown after twenty or so minutes of pounding drums and highly-charged howling. After this breather things quickly gather steam again and the main set ends with a truly epic rendition of 'Heavy Pop'.

The evening ends with 'We Bros' and shows Roberts at his most emotive whilst the surprise stage-diver that comes from nowhere sets off pandemonium near the front. Wu Lyf are a very strange live band to watch in some respects – sometimes they give off a vibe of “we're taking you all for fools” which is kind of unsettling. But there's no doubting that when they're on fire, they can deliver something truly exciting. Roberts hints that the end (at least for this chapter) of Wu Lyf is nigh. If that's the case, this would be a fitting end. An hour after the start of the show, still no one really knows who Wu Lyf are. We ultimately may never know.

Words by Max Raymond

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