I am writing this under influence. That is, under the influence of Alt-J. I usually don’t write reviews right after gigs but I feel like doing an exception today.
Alt-J was to give a concert at Shepherd’s Bush tonight (last night). Months before they pocketed the Mercury, I had already bought the tix. I was looking forward to it. Yet, London was not helping. The weather was crazy cold and while I was on my way to Shepherd’s Bush, I was thinking, “this better be good because it’s ff!”
When I got to the venue, I was not surprised to see the place packed. It was mostly full of teenage girls, a few couples and fewer adults. Alt-J took the stage around 21.30 and started the set with their intro. Then Tessellate was announced, followed by Something Good.
I had been warned before by a musician friend who had seen them live, that they didn’t quite deliver onstage. Well, it’s the nature of their music. It’s very hard to pull off onstage and despite their best efforts and hitting one single after another, the first 20 minutes or so went a bit static, the magic in the record not being there at all.
Yet, around Fitzpleasure, Alt-J started to come into their own. Then the show entered a whole new dimension with their Kylie Minogue cover of Slow. It completely took everybody by surprise and almost a minute for me to realize what they were actually singing. But when I did, it blew my mind. They couldn’t have chosen better, since Slow fit their sassy demeanor immaculately.
Alt-J went on to bring out the big guns with Matilda and were joined by the enthusiastic fans all around. As much as I dislike Joe Newman, he was the star of the show. His vocals were impressive, no less than they are on the record and he did have a gripping presence.
Alt-J saved my favourite track to the end and closed the night with Taro. It was a wise choice since it was the best moment of the show.
Overall, despite their musical challenges, Alt-J managed to give a successful performance. Add a little more of that Breezeblocks to the next record and off you go…