Review: Pale Waves @ O2 Academy Sheffield

Words: Laura Mills
Photography: Tom Sunderland

It was Sunday Funday down at the O2 Academy Sheffield when Pale Waves finished the last leg of their tour on a complete high.

The band burst into their final set with the kind of energy you’d expect from a debut, and the opener of choice was ‘Change’. This track starts with a distinctive sound awakening the crowd and letting them know it’s time to go, followed by a constant strumming of a softer choice of strings. Heather’s liquid-like vocals are at the forefront of everyone’s focus and fill the room as the crowd join in to sing every line with her. As Heather launches into the pre-chorus singing, “Now you act like I’m nobody / But you still wanna go down on me / And I know I’m a fool to believe” everybody in the venue was singing along with her. The tensions were rising and rising, each instrument intertwining with each other creating a fusion sound that the fans couldn’t resist moving to. Finally putting us out of our misery, Heather launched into the chorus “I keep wishing you would change, change” sang in a tone not only so pleasurable for the ears but powerfully done, too.

Next up, a clear fan favourite in ‘Television Romance’. As soon as the crowd recognised this one, and that only took a strum of a guitar, everyone went nuts. If you weren’t leaping around in the centre trying to create a mosh pit, then you were definitely dancing. The guitar riffs sound like the shimmering effect found in so many tunes by The 1975 coursing through this track. Plunging us into the chorus with not a missing smile in sight, Heather’s zealous vocals in the spotlight again with “Oh, baby, won’t you stop it? / You and I haven’t got it / Television romance”. This lass is from Lancashire but on that stage down in Sheffield it felt like she was transforming into Paramore’s Hayley Williams in front of our eyes. It’s not just the way she sings that reminds me of Paramore, but her confidence too. That stage was all hers.

©Tom Sunderland

A really special moment of the evening for me was when the band performed one of their latest’s tracks, ‘Tomorrow’. What an amazing song! Lyrically so positively accepting and each line reassuring the crowd that this is a band that includes everyone, no matter what their background, sexuality etc; a band that really does care and wants you to feel safe at their shows. Groups of mates or strangers who have become temporary best mates to unite together arm in arm singing the chorus ‘’Cause there’s always tomorrow to get you by, get you by / Tomorrow, won’t you stay alive / Give it one more try?” As Pale Waves drive into verse number two, the pride flags go up every second – so heart-warming as the crowd and Heather singing together “Ben, I know that you love a boy / Sexuality isn’t a choice / Don’t let anyone say it’s wrong / Won’t you just keep hanging on?”

One special moment, of course, cannot determine how a whole evening has gone, but in the case of Pale Waves, they did just that. Every single song was performed with such energy and passion; the crowd were utterly captivated throughout.

Warming us up for the chorus, the crowd played ‘She’s My Religion’. The fans demonstrated how love-struck they are by this track, which was released during Covid, and the lack of opportunities to hear this live due to restrictions over the past two years made it even more of a satisfying pleasure to experience.

Finally, Pale Waves closed their set with their most popular song, ‘There’s a Honey’.

All’s well that ends well certainly is absolutely appropriate to apply to this gig.

Thank you, Pale Waves!


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