Leeds Alumni, alt-J, Return to Where it All Began, 23.10.18

No strangers to the city, University of Leeds Alumni and trio, alt-J, performed amidst the beautiful backdrop of the Town Hall last week. Opening the set with a mysterious darkness and the intense snare drum which accompanies the intro to ‘Something Good’, the erratic lights mesmerised the crowd until Joe Newman, Gus Unger-Hamilton and Thom Green dramatically appeared. This song, from their debut album An Awesome Wave, made it clear we were in for more than just something good.

Credit: Jessica McCarrick

The exquisite harmonies of ‘Every Other Freckle’ and ‘Dissolve Me’ left keyboardist Gus shouting “it’s great to be home.” The crowd bobbed and sang along beautifully. as the free-standing light rig moved in time to the music, creating magical visuals that we were left feeling amazed by. Highlights of the night were the chilled sounds of ‘3WW’ and ‘Taro’, with the set containing a full mixture of tracks from all alt-j’s albums. Having recently released their fourth album, Reduxer, a remix album reinterpreting songs from Relaxer, it was intriguing to hear the hip hop vibes of ‘Deadcrush’ and ‘Adeline’, of which they dedicated to the support act AK Patterson. The crowd made triangles with their fingers in the air to ‘Tessellate’, which is the origin behind alt-J’s name – if you hold down alt and j on your Mac it makes a triangle. ∆

The band exclaimed that they are ambassadors for the remarkable Leeds MAP (Music and Arts Production) charity, which offers qualifications for young people in music and arts at risk of exclusion from the mainstream school system. The trio have even jumped on the bandwagon with their own signature brew, ‘Absolutely No Worries’, which was available at all their shows – you can even purchase it in Leeds at the Chemic Tavern and Tapped Bar.

The all-anticipated encore left everyone whispering ‘Left Hand Free’, for which alt-j returned to loud cheers and a crowd which had both hands free for all the clapping in unison. The diverse audience saw just how far this Mercury Prize-winning band have come since their university days with this very special, intimate gig.

Amy Brown

Header Image Credit Jessica McCarrick