Coinciding with the release of their remix album Reduxer, alt-J announced a string of shows in theatres across the UK. With their usual spectacular light show and a set that mixed tracks from all four of their albums to date, they really put on a show.
Walking out on to the stage, Joe Newman (guitar/lead vocals), Thom Sonny Green (drums) and Gus Unger-Hamilton (keyboards/vocals) were almost imprisoned in their positions on stage by magnificent strings of giant LED lights that had a really impactful effect throughout the performance. Much like how they didn’t move much from their set positions between the lights, the band didn’t interact with the crowd all that much. However, it wasn’t really necessary for them to do so when they could let the music do the talking.
Cramming 19 tracks from their back catalogue into an hour and a half long set, it played out almost like a greatest hits which is exactly what you want out of a concert. While they played a few of the remixed tracks from the new album, with videos of the featured artists flashing up on the giant screens behind the band, the vast majority of the set was from their Mercury Prize winning debut album An Awesome Wave.
The real joy of this band is the diversity of their sound. With their willingness to experiment, it meant that there was never a lull, with some of their more folky tracks like ‘Matilda’ contrasting beautifully with the hip-hop remixes of tracks like ‘Deadcrush’. Something that is always euphoric about seeing alt-J live is the note-perfect harmonies shared by Newman and Unger-Hamilton. They create such an exquisite sound that it’s even more impressive live than on their studio recordings.
However, the SEC Armadillo proved to be a slightly unusual venue for a band that have become a staple at festivals around the world. While it was clearly a more intimate venue than the band usually play, having it all seated was a bit odd as it meant that there was no atmosphere from a standing crowd. That was, at least, until the encore when they beckoned the audience to come and stand at the front right by the stage.
It was at this point that everyone truly came alive, with everyone dancing and chanting along to the triple whammy of ‘Left Hand Free’, ‘In Cold Blood’ and ‘Breezeblocks’. Ending the night on a high with a joyous sing-along really highlighted the euphoria of seeing alt-J perform live.
4 out of 5
Hunger of the Pine
Left Hand Free
In Cold Blood