Music | Alt-J @ Manchester Apollo 20/09
With a name derived from an Apple Mac command, lyrics rooted in literature and a love of art-house films, Alt-J are anything but predictable. Their explosive debut An Awesome Wave featured a ground-breaking blend of stylised guitar and sweet harmony, raucous chants and rhythmic grooves cementing them as the nation’s favourite hipsters. However, with the departure of founding member Gwil Sainsbury, This Is All Yours could have been the rock their awesome wave broke upon. Fortunately, their sophomore release sees their intricate soundscapes underpinned with a quiet confidence; a passion which possesses the crowd at Manchester’s O2 Apollo.
Gradually, the quartet create a sense of unity with and between every person present, a sensation culminating in the joint ‘Dissolve Me’ and ‘Matilda’. As the crowd chant their lyrics back to them, the band’s touched faces create a priceless moment of true connection. Any apprehension about new material collapses as the bluesy swagger of ‘Left Hand Free’ surely knocks it aside. The overt sexual desire of ‘Every Other Freckle’ presents a stark contrast to the subtle yearning of ‘Tessellate’, further embodying the boundaries Alt-J so beautifully break down.
Lyricist Joe Newman’s reluctance to speak on stage can often appear nonchalant, but tonight it displays a humility rarely found in frontmen. From a softly spoken gang quietly formed in student halls, subtle smiles and grateful eyes speak infinitely louder than inarticulate roars. They are a hushed consulate of radical ideas, still cautious of the worship they face. As the crowd refrain “please don’t go… I love you so”, an unusually warm ‘Breezeblocks’ dispels any doubt. Alt-J are an innovative force to be reckoned with and, with a little luck, there’s many an awesome wave to come.
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