UEA, Norwich November 13, 2022
by Paul Hammerton
It’s a cold, damp Sunday night when indie-sensations Wet Leg launch the UK leg of their monster tour.
With tickets having sold out ages ago, it is no surprise that the LCR floor is packed well before the support act takes to the stage.
And Lava La Rue – who’s been barely advertised – is a revelation. A London-based visual artist and musician, their wonderfully distinctive voice blends soul with rap and delivers original material with crystal clear lyrics.
Add to that the visual spectacle of dreads paired with red tartan trousers, a stylish band and a dreamy saxophone accompaniment and it’s an all-round carefully-constructed performance.
Should they return here for a headline show, a good number of tonight’s appreciative crowd are likely to be there.
Wet Leg’s last visit to Norwich – which was also a sell-out but at the Arts Centre – came hot on the heels of the release of their eponymous debut album.
A lot has happened to them since then: a Mercury Prize nomination, intense media attention and a marathon sequence of gigs.
They have been on the road almost continuously, criss-crossing the US and Canada, followed by dates in Europe.
Their profile has ballooned further since that April visit, and it’s hard to remember another recent show with such a crossover in terms of audience demographics – there seem to equally as many over-60s as teens here tonight.
This gig is the start of a 12-date British tour before Wet Leg return to the other side of the Atlantic. Despite their gruelling schedule, from the moment they launch into Being In Love and Wet Dreams there’s never any danger of this being a jaded performance.
It is easy to focus on the superlative vocals of Rhian Teasdale, and one highlight is Oblivious, with Teasdale – wearing a Lava La Rue T-shirt – delivering a solo of real operatic quality.
But the voice of Hester Chambers complements Teasdale perfectly, and it’s the blend of vocals that makes the distinctive Wet Leg sound so appealing.
A solo by Chambers also showcases her own more delicate, tremulous voice.
There’s little inter-song banter other than a nod to a good night out in Norwich’s student bars and the delights of two quality breakfasts in the UEA cafeteria.
It’s not clear whether this is still nervousness in talking to a crowd (unlikely, given all their recent touring experience) or a cultivated geekiness to sit alongside their quirky lyrics, but it reinforces the endearing quality of the band.
How long this can last as their worldwide reputation soars remains to be seen.
With so many catchy songs, there are plenty of opportunities for crowd singalongs, and the atmosphere builds throughout the evening. It’s towards the end that things really ignite and the dancing on the floor properly gets going.
They close with Chaise Longue but, refreshingly, it’s all part of the main set – they don’t go through the manufactured rigmarole of getting everyone to demand an encore in the hope that we’ll all feign surprise when they return to play their biggest hit.
As they leave the stage, they’ve given us all they’ve got, and leave us wanting more.
Let’s just hope that when they tour in support of their next album, they won’t be too big to play a venue around here.