While the lights dim in Camden’s Electric Ballroom, a spotlight shines down on the words “Dream Wife” draped at the back of the stage. As if we’re about to watch a silent film or maybe be read a bedtime story, a calm announcer’s voice encourages everyone to pull up a chair and enjoy the show. The tranquillity is shattered when lead singer Rakel Mjöll takes over, jumping straight into the hyper-energetic ‘Hey Heartbreaker’.
It's easy to tell this is Dream Wife’s home city, the crowd are immediately involved, screaming along to the words and diving around the dance floor. It would be impossible to have an audience this infectiously ecstatic without Mjöll being front and centre of the band. She has an inimitable charisma and energy that exudes throughout the whole set; you can’t take your eyes off the stage.
It’s been nearly two years since the band released their sophomore album So When You Gonna… leaving the audience desperate to hear its tracks performed live – and this was delivered. My own favourite song, ‘Hasta La Vista’, followed. With driving guitars, Mjöll lamented on “how many ways to say goodbye” moving rapidly into the hectic titular hit ‘So When You Gonna…’.
Even when Dream Wife ditch the classics and showcase some new songs they’ve written on the road, everyone is as invested and as involved as ever. ‘Hot’ is a fast-paced tongue-in-cheek tirade that is synonymous with the band with Mjöll warning, “Don’t date a musician”. Disappointingly there’s no indication of an impending release for it. This doesn’t matter to anyone though since the DIY aspect of Dream Wife’s evolution is exactly what these new songs embody. Remember, they did tour in Canada before ever playing a hometown UK show.
Back to the archives, the band relax back into another of my top tracks from So When You Gonna…, ‘Temporary’, full of fuzzy guitar and crispy drums. Afterwards, Mjöll excitedly releases, “Oh my God, it’s finally happening” – the show has been delayed three times due to restrictions, isolations, and lockdowns. “Nothing in this world beats the live music scene”, and she is right – this year, so far, with gigs back and bands touring has been how I expected living in London to be compared to the rather disappointing 2020/21.
Dream Wife are at their best when they’re at their most energetic and tonight, this was during ‘Sports!’ - a battle of the axes showcasing guitarist Alice Go and bassist Bella Podpaec, a money gun, and fake cash obtained earlier in Camden Market made for a chaotic, exhilarating interlude.
I didn’t know what to expect going into the Dream Wife show, I started listening to them during lockdown and had never seen them live before today but now I need to see them again. Mjöll is one of the best performers I have seen with an impressive voice to match, she is able to transition from screams into perfect vocals in an instant. Dream Wife wouldn’t be the band they are without their fans who have supported them throughout their DIY journey up to the Electric Ballroom, but I’ve seen tonight that this support is completely deserved.