Since the 2017 collapse of his punk outfit Dead Pretties, Jacob Slater could be found in the suburbs of Cornwall, quietly absorbing a peaceful energy that would soon grow to fuel a more melodic and reflective style of artistry.
Four years later, the singer recruited Harry Fowler, Peter Woodin and Jamie staples and formed Wunderhorse. A new endeavour capitalising on a breakthrough in sound, the quartet released a flurry of top-tier rock singles before sharing their 2022 debut album, ‘Cub’. With those 11 tracks to their name, they are now touring the UK playing sold-out show after sold-out show.
It’s easy to see why – addictive top lines, fuzzy guitars and punchy lyricisms have captured listeners’ attention all over, and their stop in Newcastle is no exception. From the delicate yet tense build-up of set and record opener ‘Butterflies’, the room is held a tight grasp of attentive silence with all eyes on the electric frontman.
Having matured away from the spotlight, these songs are hard to pin down – while they all seem incredibly personal, each individual track looks outwards toward others with genuine care and no sense of ego. As well as maintaining a grungy edge to their sonics, Wunderhorse possess an innate tenderness too. There is no gimmick to their success, this is just a band that thrives on simple, balanced and damn well-crafted tunes.
In the more ferocious moments, spit and sweat on stage fuses with the blood and tears behind the music for a truly cathartic experience, least of all for the frontman himself; Slater’s hands become a blur as he flexes a newfound level of control that doesn’t stop the free-flowing nature of his performance. Jamming through quieter moments doesn’t slow down the energy in the room, as fans sing back every word of what is undeniably an underplay gig.
Wunderhorse themselves don’t say much, and they don’t need to. “You can move if you like,” Slater suggests before offering up clear fan-favourite ‘Teal’; this debut solo track is a story of love enduring hardship, and that – along with a clear sense of community – is perhaps the defining trait of his own journey. Newcastle makes it clear that many of those in the crowd continue to walk a similar path.