- Live Review
- 23 May 22
On Sunday night, indie folk-tronic trio Alt-J stopped by the 3Olympia theatre as they continue on their 24 country world tour. This was the first of two consecutive sold out shows at the Dublin venue. Their latest album The Dream came out just last months, pulling in fans eager to hear the new favourite tracks.
After building anticipation in the humid-heat of the venue, the trio takes the stage. They then climb up on an even higher platform to tower above the crowd - assuming the orderly formation of a single straight line.
The added height centers them in front of the LCD screen that bombasts visual abstractions for each song. The members themselves are shrouded in darkness, nearly inscrutable. Along with effects like flashing strobes and moving searchlights, the overwhelming visual aspect of the performance is essential to its imaginative appeal.
It is apparent that Alt-J are story tellers. There is a certain tribal feeling of being gathered around a fire while we let the shadowy musicians transport us to another realm. Their tools are enigmatic lyricism and genre-bending instrumentals that just border on other-worldly, even liturgy. Even in the moments when the music leans into guitar-heavy hits, there is still a dark and mellow undercurrent. Some of the show's best moments are the break-out a capella harmony sprawls - reminiscent of hymnal chants.
Indeed, the first images that emerge around the barely visible figures are dozens of softly glowing candles as they open with one of their latest tracks 'Bane'.
Known in many ways for their artistic experimentation, the visual projections shifted from geometric shapes, to suggestions of planets, static, and crashing waves for 'Dissolve Me'.
Unfortunately, the visual design is arguably the most captivating aspect of the performance. The audience does their best to remain enthusiastic for an occasionally plodding set. Still, there are ingenious moments to be found which reach out to grip us unexpectedly. That is, when they strike, they strike gold. Sonically, the drummer Thom Green is the real saviour of the show, delivering direct and unwavering drum lines underlining Newman's signature mumbled vocals.
Favourites of the night like 'The Gospel of John Hurt', 'Left Hand Free', and 'Fitzpleasure' pick up the energy and remind us of the innovative minds behind the music. The live versions of these songs, even with the simple three-man setup, lift them to a new potential.
The group has channeled their hallmark intricate, experimental melodies and darkly fascinating storytelling to construct a narrative that pulls you in - before it spits you out.
Their ongoing 42 concert tour is continuing to raise the cool-headed indie group to global recognition. The trio, known for Mercury-prize winning album An Awesome Wave, has made a name for themselves in the world of alternative indie-pop.
The group formed at Leeds University in 2007, comprised of members Joe Newman, Gus Unger-Hamilton, and Thom Sonny Greene. Since, with several blow-out hits the likes of 'Breezeblocks' and 'Left Hand Free,' they have cemented themselves as kings of alt-pop.
"The Dream was recorded from August 2020 until June 2021 with long-time producer Charlie Andrew. What emerged was a record of intrigue and ambiguity that fizzes with a rejuvenated sense of experimentalism," the band writes, "The Dream is the sound of a band experimenting more than they ever have, recharged and reinvigorated - the twelve tracks make for the fullest sounding alt-J record yet."
Listen to Alt-J's new record below.
- Live Review
- 03 Nov 22