Pale Waves at O2 Academy Bournemouth on 16.2 2022. Beaux supporting.
Got here in time to see support act Beaux starting up. They have come down at short notice from London to support their label mates. The advertised tour support acts were Hot Milk, a late withdrawal due to a Covid case, and an American band (LA) Gene that seem to have been replaced by Bitters (missed them), perhaps due to the name controversy with UK 90s band Gene that kicked up a row when the tour was announced.
Beaux is a 22 year old bouyant poppy singer songwriter chap with guitar plus bassist and drummer, with some synth backing. Enjoyable and I can see him emerging further. He is brimming over with enthusiasm and excitement at his opportunity.
After, we wander back to lean on the barriers behind the mixing desk (I’m with wife Sally at this one). After a chat with the venue’s sound engineer we are talking a friendly Showsec security woman..I’m interested in the venues she covers and how she finds those problem gig goers…you know, the drunken middle aged fighting women.
“Are you ..er ..the parents?” she asks. I gave it my best ‘smiley face and p*ss off eyes’. Actually, thinking about it, I’m probably about old enough to be a grandad of half the audience and the band so hey ho.
Yup, Pale Waves are a relatively new band by my standards. This is the third time we’ve seen them (a fact I could hardly spit out fast enough to the security woman): supporting The 1975 at some car boot sale cowshed in Exeter (aka Westpoint Arena) in January 2019 and then a top performance in The John Peel Tent at Glastonbury Festival later that year.
It was that first sighting in Exeter that got me interested in these Manchester Emo-indie pop rockers. They are label mates of The 1975 and at that Exeter gig they did a short but high impact set…and in doing so still outshone The 1975 in my ears. (A bloody awful venue by the way – never to be revisited, in Winter months at least.)
Pale Waves have two albums: the debut My Mind Makes Noises (2018) and the more recent 2021 album Who Am I? I like them both – quite poppy and not as gothy as the band look on stage – now softened by a blonde for black hair swop for lead singer Heather Baron-Gracie.
‘Television Romance‘ is a good first place to go to listen. They play this as the second song of tonight’s set down here in Boscombe, having opened with Change, the first track on the latest album.
It’s not that busy tonight but full enough. The upstairs tiers are both closed and the crowd that goes back to the mixing desk isn’t so dense as to prevent a wander with my pocket zoom. Down at the front and to the far right brings a really close and easily achievable view later.
Venue details can be found in my O2 Academy Bournemouth blog – very much a ‘home venue’ for me.
Heather Baron-Gracie is very much the focus of the band – songwriter, lead singer, guitarist. More of a central focus than when I’ve seen them previously…..as my photo selection underlines in hindsight. It’s a very visual performance. She’s given a lot of space to project from by her band mates.
There’s a break for Heather to sort her black lipstick out before an acoustic selection for which she’s seated. The attentive and polite crowd whoops its approval. It’s dreamy and jangly and I can understand the appearance of a couple of Cure t-shirts I spotted earlier.
Pale Waves are surely a band that were hit unduly hard by the unwelcome Covid interlude to music making and performing. Their awaited second album Who Am I? was released in February 2021, reaching no.3 in the album chart, but the associated tour to promote it had to be postponed until now.
The set list draws from both albums with one new song. Seven songs from the 2021 album – songs notably focusing on relationships.
The first of the encores is She’s My Religion. (My YouTube clip) Heather is down in the pit to retrieve a rainbow flag and she parades her colours for the final song: There’s a Honey, (YouTube single link) a big one from the first album.
Pale Waves haven’t been down this way much before but I’m sure they’ll be back as their following grows.