Live Review: Pale Waves - O2 Ritz, Manchester 28/09/2018


Pale Waves’ sold out homecoming show at Manchester’s O2 Ritz was as glittering and gothic as you’d expect. The room was heaving full of black-lipped, smoky-eyed, Baron-Gracie-esque fans waiting to hear new songs from their incredible debut album, My Mind Makes Noises. With support from King Nun and Swimming Girls – this show was bound to be a good one. 

The night was opened by London-based rock band King Nun who brought the, already packed, Ritz to life with the huge ‘Hung Around’ and ‘Tulip’. King Nun have already gathered quite the following amongst indie fans and always deliver so much energy on stage which, along with great music, will definitely make more people want to keep an eye out for them. After King Nun was Swimming Girls, as the anticipation built for Manchester’s favourite emos. Front woman Vanessa’s crystalline vocals mesmerised the crowd and tunes like ‘Asking For It’ and ‘Tastes Like Money’ encouraged fans to get involved, put their hands in the air and have a little dance. It was actually really nice to see these ‘smaller’ bands being appreciated at this show as it isn’t uncommon for supports to be ignored and talked over. 

Then, greeted by blinding flashes of red lights and a sea of screaming fans, came the mighty Pale Waves. They opened with (as Heather describes as) ‘a song about being Eighteen and in love’ while, it seemed like, every person in the Ritz sang the opening lines back to her as loud as they could. This show was visually so beautiful too, the red lighting made it so the band looked like silhouettes for parts of some songs which added to the ethereal, other-worldly feel of Pale Waves gigs. 

The band treated the crowd to fan-favourites like ‘Television Romance’ and ‘New Year’s Eve’, along with a few of their new releases off their debut album. The song that seemed to get everyone going the most was drummer Ciara Doran’s favourite; ‘Came in Close’. Since the album was released it was decided by most fans that this song was going to sound and feel amazing live and it definitely lived up to the hype. Each song was adorned with lighting that complimented the music so well, the faster songs came with bright white strobe lights that got the crowd even more excited to dance and get involved. 

Then, after what felt like a dream – a very sweaty, loud dream – came an encore of the heart-breaking ‘My Obsession’ where front woman Heather took the opportunity to glance up to the left hand side of the balcony area and flash a smile to, who I can only assume to be, her family. The night was brought to a close with everyone’s favourite ‘There’s a Honey’. This was one of the first Pale Waves songs many fans had heard when they were just starting out as a band so it was really cool to see such a huge room of people singing the words and dancing along. The final notes of There’s a Honey echoed through the room with yet another sequence of flashing lights and with that, the night was all over. 

This was the best I have seen Pale Waves perform; Heather’s vocals have become so strong and the whole band just seems to connect with the crowd so well. It felt like a really proud moment for long-time fans of the group and I think they did their hometown of Manchester extremely proud too.

Words by Thalia Traynor and Photography by Jess Foster