SAN FRANCISCO — During a firework of a headlining set that lasted just 39 minutes, Manchester’s Pale Waves ignited a nostalgic reverie at The Chapel. Singer-guitarist Heather Baron-Gracie, drummer Ciara Doran, bassist Charlie Wood and guitarist Hugo Silvani burned brightly for about 10 songs, most of which would fit right into a John Hughes film.
From “Television Romance” and “The Tide,” which sounded like cuts by The 1975 (Matty Healy of The 1975 produced the band’s first singles), to unreleased track “Kiss,” which simultaneously recalled Modern English, Echo and the Bunneymen and Cyndi Lauper, concertgoers seemed to have been taken to any number of happy memories. Even when the tunes were bittersweet, like “My Obsession,” they still sounded happy enough to incite dancing.
“Sad songs make some of the best songs,” Baron-Gracie said prior to “My Obsession.” Otherwise, she let her music and her hair flips do most of the talking. She would tilt her head from side to side, making her curly locks bounce back and forth.
The band also played another as-yet-unreleased track, “She,” a bassy synth-led power ballad, and finished off with more shimmering pop tracks like “Heavenly” and “Eighteen,” which Baron-Gracie said was about “being young and in love.”
London quartet INHEAVEN opened the show, making its first appearance in the Bay Area with an inspiring performance that shifted from ’90s alt-rock to a dense wall of sound. The band’s eight-song set blasted through the majority of its 2017 debut album, from “Bitter Town” and “Stupid Things,” a classic-sounding pop song, to the intense “Baby’s Alright,” “Regeneration” and “Vultures.” The hard-driving earworms were matched only by the band’s exuberance. INHEAVEN is blessed with two members—bassist Chloe Little and guitarist James Taylor—who each have the charisma to lead a band. But because they’re together, they can pick and choose their spots.
— Roman Gokhman