“We’re Alt-J and we’re from Leeds”: Alt-J stun O2 Academy Leeds with triumphant homecoming show
Once upon a time, all the way back in 2007, a group of friends formed a band within the student halls of the University of Leeds. 15 years, 4 studio albums, 4 Brit Award nominations, and a Mercury Prize later, Alt-J made a triumphant return to their spiritual home of Leeds on the third date of their UK tour. The tour followed the release of their fourth studio album, The Dream, in February which reached number 3 in the UK album charts.
Their set at the O2 Academy Leeds a good mix of songs from the latest album – the reactions to which were excellent, given how well received The Dream was, both commercially and critically – as well as a fantastic array of fan favourites and other notable tunes from the Alt-J discography. As is to be expected, the best crowd reactions came with songs like ‘In Cold Blood’, ‘Every Other Freckle’ and the all-killer-no-filler encore of ‘Left Hand Free’ followed by ‘Hard Drive Gold’ and, of course, ‘Breezeblocks’. A personal highlight was the inclusion of ‘The Gospel of John Hurt’ from 2014’s This Is All Yours, though truthfully I could not fault any aspect of the setlist. Even the tracks from their latest album which could have been difficult to do justice to in a live setting worked incredibly well, and the crowd seemed appreciative to witness the band’s wonderfully unique brand of folktronica in a live setting – especially given that it had been 4 years since Alt-J had visited Leeds.
The atmosphere at Alt-J was incredibly friendly and joyous, and Alt-J did their best to preserve that feeling – even stopping halfway through ‘3WW’ to check that somebody in the crowd was okay. It came across very well that Alt-J were actively enjoying their performance; whether this was due to the fact it was a homecoming show, or just that it was early on in the tour and they weren’t knackered yet is unclear but either way, their positive on-stage energy translated into the atmosphere of the crowd. The atmosphere was further heightened by the incredible on-stage visuals and light-show which accompanied the performance: the mood and character of each track was captured very well by the visuals which backlit the trio.
Alt-J are currently touring mainland Europe, with festival dates in Prague, Berlin and Rome set for the Summer months, before setting off on an Australian tour in September. Hopefully, though, the trio will return home soon enough to put on another fantastic show in Leeds.