9th September | Grand Pier
Photos: Matthew Fessey
Alt-J polished off their Seaside Tour with a mighty finale, their first ever show on a pier and, as keys-player and co-vocalist Gus Unger-Hamilton announced, “hopefully not their last!”
The unusual space first hit home as we neared the Grand Pier’s Great Hall, stopping to look over the edge at the choppy water before we entered. The sold-out venue was bustling and full to the brim as Blaenavon warmed everyone up with their liveliness, reminiscent of all sorts – from Dry The River to Bastille via The Maccabees.
Taking to the stage with a flash of bleached hair, singer Joe Newman led Alt-J into the latest album’s first song: ‘3WW’. Vertical rows of tall strip lighting divided the stage in three and the band took to their places in each section. It seemed as if they were embracing their calm stage presence and subtle interaction, which has been the subject of whiny critics over the years. The band seemed as confident as ever in what they’re about, individually lit by a quite phenomenal light show.
As the distinctive drums of ‘Something Good’ kicked in, the crowd hollered in recognition – a classic from the Awesome Wave days. The crowd did a pretty impressive job of reciting every word of the quirky, harmonised Interlude I, before ‘Tessellate’ kicked things up a gear. Recent single ‘In Cold Blood’ followed, with snappy drums, atmospheric brass and lots of zeros and ones – another song to prove Alt J have been making maths sexy since 2012.
‘Dissolve Me’ and ‘Fitzpleasure’ were further welcome steps back to their debut. The floor shook with with the sheer amount of dancing and we were reminded again that we were in fact watching a band (pretty much) out at sea. A slip-up during ‘Matilda’ was the only blip in an otherwise flawless interplay of vocals throughout the show, and the band laughed it off, smiling through the chorus.
‘Taro’ closed the main set, a fan-favourite which culminated in an ooh-oohing crowd which almost drowned out the band. Coming back for the encore armed with two more bangers, ‘Left Hand Free’ and ‘Breezeblocks’, the band proved their might. The huge, devoted crowd served as a reminder of Alt J’s talent and justifiably huge following.
Check out the video for ‘3WW’ below.