Ivory Wave at The Wardrobe, Leeds: Gig Review & Exclusive Interview

By Charlie Malcolm-McKay

Photography: Josie Espinosa



As the cold winter nights draw in Brummie indie-dance boy band Ivory Wave graced the stage at The Wardrobe, Leeds on the 29th November with an impressive second-to-last show, that oozed both charisma and nostalgia, in support of the established alt-rock band Jaws on their UK tour.


Walking into the venue, amongst the electric buzz of youthful excitement and buoyant anticipation, the infectious high spirits of the growing crowd meant this night had all the promise of being unforgettable. With its JAWS lit backdrop, scattered analogue Tv sets and ambient purple lighting the stage radiated a tantalising sense of 90s sentiment that created an eye-catching spectacle well-worthy of the performance that followed.


As frontman George Johnson emerged from the haze tinted smoke in his distinctive orange parka the once disperse crowd quickly formed into a dense pit of eager listeners who gave their undivided attention to his short but equally captivating introduction. From this very moment he established a warm control over the audience that lasted the duration of the set. Whether that be getting a pint of Guinness passed all the way to the lighting technician, a moment of triumph that stirred jeers from the ever-raucous crowd, or having more than half the room sing along to popular tracks such as ‘Cool Kids’ and ‘Weigh Me Down’, it is clear to see why Jaws chose such a vibrant and amiable band to open their show.



Perhaps one of the highlights of the band’s performance was the song ‘Uptown’, a single released prior to their debut EP ‘Dream Nights’ that saw instant success earning Track of the Week on Radio X and plays on BBC Introducing and Radio 1.


Its catchy chorus, emphasised by George’s unique vocal twang, rhythmic beat brought to life by Seb Baldwin’s energetic drumming and dazzling synths perfectly executed by Rob Clarke, gave the song an up-beat, melodic vibe that echoed the brotherly-friendships within the band and simultaneously brought everyone in the room together, with the lyric, “all these days they’re fading away, but stuck inside my memories they’ll stay.” The anthemic quality of the song is a true testimony to the youthful dilemma of eagerly waiting all week to go out, only to wake up the next morning with a heavy hang-over and an empty wallet.


With clear Oasis, Happy Mondays and Kasabian influence, the group of five perfectly fused the classic indie-rock sound with a modern acid-house machismo that set them apart from the log-jam of aspiring boy bands the last few decades has seen. The grassroot approach to success the band has taken is as admirable as it is enjoyable to watch and if they continue to perform as well as they did in Leeds then there is no doubt that this will not be the last time your hear the name Ivory Wave.


After their performance I was fortunate enough to catch leader singer George backstage, where we had a brief discussion about the band’s performance and what to expect from their final show in Coventry:


First of all great show tonight, you said yourself it had be one of your favourites of the tour, what was it about Leeds that made it so special?

It’s just always a great crowd in Leeds when we’re here playing. Every time we have a show it’s always on par with Birmingham, like the vibes and whatever. We just always really enjoy ourselves here.


I saw you whisper a few things into Connor’s (guitarist) ear tonight, can you reveal what they were or is that just between you and him?

Ha-ha yeah, I was just telling him how good looking he was and how good the gig was if you know what I mean.


Your final show is in Coventry tomorrow, what can we expect from that?

Yeah, we’ll be down in Coventry tomorrow and just more a less the same thing man – just us doing the business.


Listen to Ivory Waves debut EP ‘Dream Nights’ available on all streaming services or catch them at their next gig at King George’s Hall, Blackburn on the 21st of December.




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