Chelsea Wolfe has already made quite an impression in her career to date. Her ability to combine old fashioned folk songwriting with elements of drone and psychedelia may not be as remarkably original as some will have you believe but the mixture is potent to say the least. With a band of four in tow, this date marks Wolfe’s first performance in Leeds and the main room of The Cockpit is fairly full to welcome her to West Yorkshire. The message, it seems, has spread.
Chelsea Wolfe initially emerges flanked by a violinist and a keyboard player, brandishing an acoustic guitar, and a voice that could halt any passer-by in their tracks. Despite the fact that the crowd are obviously expecting something louder the first few tracks are rapturously received and if anything it’s slightly disappointing when the violin and acoustic guitar departs to be replaced by two electric guitars and drums. Soon enough though the second half of the set proves equally arresting, despite the occasional moment when the aforementioned upstairs gig is audible at inappropriate moments.
Wolfe’s live band are far from showy, that much is true, but the added texture given to her songs by their involvement is what makes this an unforgettable performance. At times the reverberations of her voice and some simple finger-picking is enough to send the audience into hypnotic rapture but it is the dissonant, slightly krautrockian ending to the main set takes things to another level. Indeed, the power achieved by both sound incarnations, quiet and loud, is almost Swans-like in its graceful ferocity. Unmissable.