Wet Leg at the Royal Albert Hall review: a riotously entertaining show from the recent Brits winners
Fame can be fatal for young musicians. Some curdle into pompous divas with chart-topping success, while others blossom into the charmingly eccentric stars they were always destined to be. Judging by this riotously entertaining show, Wet Leg remain firmly in the latter camp, still half-drunk on the head-spinning surrealism of their relatively new-found stardom. “I feel like we’re inside a big, lovely cake,” grinned the Isle of Wight band’s magnificently monikered lead singer Rhian Teasdale, sounding as ever like a tipsy debutante who had just arrived by time machine from 1953.
Part of the annual run of Teenage Cancer Trust benefit concerts, this show offered a rich mix of of female musical talent. Opening for Wet Leg was CMAT, aka Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson, a 27-year-old country-pop singer-songwriter who has already topped the charts in her native Ireland. With her fizzing comic energy, Thompson caught some of Dolly Parton’s self-aware humour in witty, tongue-in-cheek numbers like the unrequited love serenade Peter Bogdanovich and the bawdy, boisterous No More Virgos. Between camp dance-off interludes with her male keyboard player, she also managed the impressive feat of coaxing most of the Albert Hall audience into a line-dancing two-step, and did the splits to raucous applause.
When I first reviewed Wet Leg for the Standard early last year, they were still playing tiny venues, but clearly primed to explode. Thirteen months later, they are currently on a worldwide stadium tour opening for pop superstar Harry Styles. This was their first UK show since they won two Grammies and two Brit awards in February. Did Teasdale or fellow band co-founder Hester Chambers mention their recent bumper haul of glittering prizes? Of course not. Did they blow the roof off the Royal Albert Hall? No, but they came pretty close.
Indeed, filling larger venues seems to have have sharpened Wet Leg’s showmanship, amplifying ragged indie-rock guitar-bashers like Being in Love and Supermarket into muscular, clobbering, arena-sized monsters. Audience participation was also a prominent factor in this show, with lusty mass sing-along sections and a cathartic shared screaming session during the bitter break-up song Ur Mum, which sounded both hilarious and unhinged in such a cavernous hall.
Teasdale and Chambers shared a sweetly understated comic chemistry onstage, trading sardonic lyrics, winking innuendo and joyfully wonky dance moves. But their ironic surface clowning masked some darker, more emotionally raw songs. Chambers took lead vocals on the quietly heartbroken Convincing while Teasdale’s tear-jerking ballad Obvious, a live staple which so far remains unreleased, once again proved itself a luminous show-stopper.
Wet Leg inevitably saved their career-making breakthrough hit, the gloriously saucy bubblegum punk-pop blast Chaise Longue, for the finale. Teasdale and Chambers clearly have richer musical depths in their arsenal, but this maddeningly catchy crowd-pleaser was the cherry on a big, lovely cake.