Ok- lets start with some disclaimers. I am a middle-aged man (47). I took my 18-year-old daughter with me and on the way there she confessed to not really being a fan of Wet Leg.
“Is it ‘cos you are too cool for school Lilz?’.
“No”, she says “that Chaise Lounge song is alright but it’s been a bit overplayed and I didn’t really get the rest of their stuff.”
I breathed like a meditation app and controlled my middle-aged blood pressure. Then explained to the young sausage why this was one of the most exciting bands to emerge from the UK in the last few years. Mostly, my argument was that “they sound like proper old school indie bands la la whatever”. This is me speculating on what I thought she said and heard.
It was packed. The rooms at the UEA are one of life’s great mysteries. The mystery being how many amazing gigs I have seen there considering how terrible the room is. I can’t see anything. I give my itinerant daughter a drink and tell her to go and get nearer and take photos while I find a sweet spot with all the other (all the other) people like me.
“Dad, I can’t get in it’s full of middle-aged people”
What Wet Leg are doing is reminding us how good music should be. Well, it’s the songs, for starters. Even now the pumped up album opener “Like Being In Love” only gets better and better with a beautifully shaky take. The band is bone-shivering great. The audience, though revered, do seem a little ‘laid back’.
Wet Leg mainly comprises singers Hester Chambers and Rhian Teasdale. They are backed by able, nice boys Josh, Henry and Ellis- who more and more show their importance in the live band.
So far so good. But what makes them great is a heady mixture of excellent music, happy comradery that is not fake and real grit when it is needed. They play their uncontrived music with plasticity every time, every way as if they want to impress, and it works.
This is my second lucky time seeing the band in a small environment and it is no accident that they will be supporting Pulp at their massive Finsbury Park comeback gig next year. It will be difficult to see Wet Leg in these small environments again. They will ascend. Oh hang on- they have.
Non-album songs really stand up to the familiar tracks. That says something about what we might hear if the band ever stops touring and gets in a studio for a second album. I think they might surprise us with what they do next. It feels like there is so much more in the tank.
The show is everything. They can communicate with an audience and are funny and delightfully real on stage. A nice bit when they ask each other how they feel is just enough rehearsed and just enough spontaneous to be really pleasing.
Rhian fronts the band. However, she is happy to take a backseat sometimes. Hester just comes on stronger and stronger as Rhian’s foil and quite distinctive guitarist cum supplicant that means the band could not exist without her. She gets one lead vocal, the delicious ‘Convincing’ and her nu laid-back Lou Reed vocal only makes the song way cooler than the album version.
I’ve lost my daughter. She’s not ‘in’ but she’s further in than this old man. I’ve found a nice breeze by where the door is and where the sound is not too bad and I can see bits. But it’s immersive. They are a truly brilliant live band. The type that takes them with you. That is the final piece in the Wet Leg success jigsaw.
Of course we get ‘Ur Mum’ and ‘Chaise Lounge’ but my, and their, absolute favourite (they appear to know when they have written a really decent song) ‘Angelica’ gets projected near the close. Good times, all the time. I wish them that. We all feel it.
They just say- last song the one you want- play it and leave. The gig is coming in at just around an hour. I like that.
It’s a good feeling to know they know what they have got and give it to you only then to retire to the chaise lounge to drink the six pack of warm beer.
“We saw you at the top of the queue really early today when nobody else was here- it hasn’t gone unnoticed”- Rhian says to a front of audience member, singling them out.
Hopefully, they shared that warm beer with them later.
I feel happy. Lilz finds me at the end. “They were fucxking brilliant,” she says. “Told You” I said and had to stop myself saying this was what live music used to be like in my day.