A Updated

Hopefully Bad Wolves will be back again

Manchester : Academy 3 - 11th December 2022

My last gig of 2022 was another cold one. Despite the threat of travel disruptions, the chance to see Bad Wolves on their first visit to the UK proved to be too much of a draw to be missed. Following many issues at the large arena venue in Manchester two days earlier, it was also nice to be back in one of the smaller Academy rooms, for what was close to being a sold-out show.

Cambridge based Modern Rock quartet Hollowstar have been on the radar for a number of years now. Their self-titled debut 2019 album built on the foundations laid by the ‘Some Things Matter’ six-track EP from 2017 and saw them go out on their first headline tour. Joe Bonson (lead vocals/bass), Phil Haines (guitar), Jack Bonson (drums) and Tom Collett (guitar) are now a well-oiled and seasoned touring outfit and this shows every time they play. With two new songs (sophomore album is due in 2023) sitting comfortably next to the more established favourites, even the uninitiated could not fail to be impressed and that was exactly the case in Manchester. Songs such as ‘Invincible’, ‘Good Man Gone’ and ‘All I Gotta Say’ are more addictive than a tube of Pringles and the band were rightly awarded a great ovation at the end of their high-quality support slot.

Formed in 2017, Bad Wolves initially found fame from their first single, a cover of The Cranberries’ 1994 hit ‘Zombie’. Despite parting ways with original vocalist Tommy Vext, at the beginning of 2021, the recruitment of former The Acacia Strain guitarist Daniel “DL” Laskiewicz as the new lead-singer saw the band release their strongest album to date, ‘Dear Monsters’, in October 2021. It was a personal favourite of that year and I was really keen to hear how the songs sounded in the live environment. When the band took to the stage, to a healthy reception, it was clear the intention was to take no prisoners.

Things got under way with ‘Sacred Kiss’ (opening track on ‘Dear Monsters’) and the energy levels were high to say the least. Laskiewicz was non-stop, covering large parts of the stage. The sound was in-your-face, without being over-powering and musically the band were really tight. Unfortunately, the vocals were a little hit and miss. Bad Wolves had recently been in mainland Europe, so I’m not sure if the touring exertions had taken their toll. Despite drinking water constantly, Laskiewicz seemed to struggle and even his between song banter had a very croaky edge. Some songs sounded better than others, when the backing vocals helped flesh out the sound, but the aforementioned ‘Zombie’, and especially the ballad ‘Hear Me Now’, were the main victims. The crowd didn’t seem to mind too much however, and I’m sure all the bouncing shook the foundations to the extent those in the Academy 2 room, on the floor below, may have become a little worried.

When the set ended, after just twelve songs and a little over fifty minutes, I think many were surprised. Was this due to vocal issues? If Bad Wolves had only planned to do a short set, then I think that would have been even more disappointing. Hopefully Bad Wolves will be back again. They have a strong three album canon, so more songs and a longer set would redress any reservations held over from the show in Manchester.

Dave Bott

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