Wednesday night, one of the biggest cities in the world, packed place, no opening acts: just Alt-J. These all seem like good ingredients for what it’s supposed to be the dullest of the week and, luckily, it wasn’t.
For the first time in this writer’s career, there would be no signs of pre-interruption for an international artist. Considering the price of the tickets and the fact that the place was at its fullest, there was a lot of expectation in the air, especially since the harsh critics from fellow media on their first show just one night before and right after their Lolla gig: a short show, with no interaction on the band’s side and a cold set. Thankfully, luck was on our side.
Being their first international tour and with just one album out, the only thing you can expect from shows like this is a mere live version of said album with the songs in a rearranged order, just hoping it all sounds better than through your speakers: it did. Alt-J had no choice but to master their live playing, which sounds superb through each and every dong, even on their a-capella bits.
We don’t know if it was because of recovering from jet lag or a little too much Mexican food for dinner the night before, but before us we witnessed a more comfortable Alt-J, with each of their members thanking and talking to the audience each break, smiling, letting their fans sing a long and use clapping as a men fueled drum machine. Those are the perfect ingredients for a show that lacks of paraphernalia but fills the holes with good music.
Many of the highlights are the obvious ones in their album: thousands roaring as Tessellate‘s piano chords began to play, thousands moaning along to Dissolve Me’s medley, toe tapping at Kylie Minogue’s Slow Dre. But the tip of the iceberg was, above anything else, throughout the trip-hop and ballad freak Matilda, with everyone’s hands either clapping along or shaping them into triangles, which is Alt-J’s official live trademark.
Right after two covers, an album played almost in its entirety and a short fifty minute long though satisfying set, I can now understand what our very own Sean Brna talked about when he saw Alt J in Chicago: Predictable? Maybe – but who cares. Now as their tour is close from over, Alt-J should care a lot. Fans have paid, not for a long running concert or a novelty, but for being witnesses of what might be the beginning of a great career. They paid to be able to say within a few years Did you know that I saw them when they were barely touring with their first album? We all are now witnesses of the beginning of an evolution: a good one, a bad one, who knows? We’ve been at the start of something great, with tremendous potential, already hungry for a second monster of an album such as An Awesome Wave, so Alt-J better care.
Predictable? No, but it was great, short, direct, carefully crafted and delivered, fun Wednesday night – so who cares now?
Written by Jorge A. López Mendicuti
OurVinyl | Senior Writer