Having sold out their academy tour very quickly, many were interested to see how Alt-J would be affected by yet another gesture confirming how popular they have become. Even at festivals they usually played in the smaller tents, so the deserved progression to the more expansive Academy venues provided an opportunity for the songs to grow and mature in sound and possibly suggest alternate motivations when played in a different context.
Medieval choral music provided gravitas to the shuffling entrance before the band took to their instruments, all lined up unconventionally along the front row allowing all members of the band to be as close to the audience as possible thus strongly conveying the message that each member of the band is as worthy as the next of the audiences awe.
The first three songs of the set were the first three songs off the album, with “Interlude 1 (Ripe& Ruin)” subtly nodding back to their entrance song whilst invoking a peculiar Middle-Ages fete sing-along dynamic.
The sets running order was diverted from the albums when “Something Good” became the first real chance for the band to coax the audience to dance, and small pockets of the crowd, each consisting of 5-6 people duly obliged, yet the majority of the crowd were too transfixed to risk interrupting their gaze and so opted instead to respectfully stand, much to the annoyance of the engetitic gig goers.
“Buffalo” provided swelling chants which were harmoniously backed to provide an appropriate cinematic feel to the recently penned film score, which then gave way to the unmistakeable jagged synths of “Dissolve Me”.
As the livelier fans decided to opt for gentle bobbing amongst the rest of the songs, the cover “Slow” by Kylie Minogue let its pulsating synths widen the audiences awe whilst the lyrics “Come on and dance with me, yeah Slow” gently mocked as they glided in and out of consciousness like troubled ghosts.
“Matilda” proved a nice sonical twist as piercing electronic synths cuts through an otherwise slow ballad, by which point the crowd have by this point all become too enthralled by Alt-J’s commanding performance to be perturbed by petty differences in ways of showing appreciations and mutual admiration for respecting each other’s ways grow.
“MS’s” echoey throbbing tribal influence was punctured with the bassy riff which was complemented by intricate guitar work floating above it before “Breezeblocks” had the crowd aptly chanting “Please don’t go I love you so” as the band left the stage to relentless applause.
Returning to the stage to “Handmade”, the acapella cover of College’s “A Real Hero” followed displaying exquisite vocal harmonies.
Finishing with “Taro” crystallised everything great about Alt-J. The interesting technique of using tape by Gwil to get that now recognisable sitar sounding rhythm gave way to crowd singing back the well-crafted ending melody to justify how relevant and adored Alt-J have become for modern British music.
Alt-J have lived up to the musicianship expected and their ever growing fan base is testament to their ability of being a band capable of filling up larger venues both with fans and with their distinctive sound. It’s amazing to see how much they have grown in one year and we will just have to wait and see what this next year will hold.
Post by Sam