Concert Review: alt-J

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Last night I was swept up in the romanticism of alt-J. The moment the first chord of 3WW filled the TSB Bank Arena in Wellington I knew we were in for a treat and things only got better from there.

The British indie rock group performed to perfection last night, I couldn’t fault a thing, their set contained everything you want to get from a gig. Their set list was well thought out with a perfect mix of light and shade between the hand clapping, base thumping, upbeat numbers and the slow builders which had an almost symphony like feel to them, despite being produced with a purely modernistic sound.

The light show timed perfectly to match their beat focused music was simplistic yet mesmerising. Their crowd communication, was limited but this worked well because I felt like I was party to a true stage show and the songs were speaking well enough for themselves.

The new album RELAXER was showcased brilliantly with new songs interspersed amongst the old favourites. Not that I would have cared if they played new music start to finish- I think these tracks really stood out and proved the three uni mates have come along way from their first offering. Pleader was the track our group raved and raved about all the walk home, Deadcrush was easily my pick of the faster paced tracks played during the night and In Cold Blood picked up one of the better sing-and-dance-alongs of the night.

The unique vocals of lead singer Joe Newman were dominant over the loud base music and he didn’t miss a note. Gus Unger-Hamilton’s backing vocals are the perfect compliment and he and drummer Thom Sunny Green played the complex, layered and loud songs to perfection. The bands ability to perform their complicated songs such as Every Other Freckle, Bloodflood and Fitzpleasure to such a high quality live is testament to their true musicianship. There is a lot going on in most of these songs, but every element was always heard by the crowd and no songs lost their momentum or blurred.

The other thing that has to be mentioned is the crowd – that is the best gig audience I have been a part of in a long time. There was no talking through every song, everyone there was fully invested and I think the band recognised that. They did seem to mention coming back to Wellington many times!

I feel privileged to have witnessed alt-J at their best last night, certainly a concert to remember!

 

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Song of the Week – 3WW

3WW – alt-J

English indie group alt-J’s new track is dreamy. 3WW is a slow-building mesmeriser. Whatever you do upon first listen, don’t cut it off early, keep going right till the end and it won’t disappoint.

3WW features a more gentle melody than their previous works, it’s lullaby-like for much of the song. But don’t you worry -the alt-J trademarks still shine through loud and clear, they just have new twists. For example – a woman’s vocals (Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell) adds a refreshing new element to the quirky male vocals we’ve come to love from lead singer Joe Newman.

I must say, I’m a big fan of all their old work, but I love being able to follow the lyrics in this song more clearly than in previous tunes. Captivating poetry shines through:

“There was a wayward lad
Stepped out one morning
The ground to be his bed
The sky his awning”

The song has mellow use of synth and soft drum beats throughout but cleverly inserts bursts of crescendo which take the song from being a cafe style easy-listener to a well-thought out and cleverly crafted single.

This is the first track off the bands upcoming album Relaxer. It reflects the album name as it is a more subdued style song for the group but I think it’s an interesting new direction and I can’t wait to hear more.