Concert Review: Alt-J @ The Sound Academy, Toronto, Canada
The first time I saw Alt-J, they were playing a free show in St. Pancras International Train Station in London, England. This was before they released their Mercury Prize winning debut album. Now, they are touring North America, with demand exceeding expectations – last night’s show was moved from the Phoenix to Sound Academy and was still sold out. The band has even added another show at Echo Beach later in the year. People love them some ∆s.
With only one album, I was curious to how long a set we would get treated to, and if B-sides, covers, or extended jams would fill the gap. You can find out below, if your reading skills are up to the task.
The English band opened with – surprise! – Intro. The band featured a slightly unorthodox stage set up, with the drummer on the far right of the stage, as opposed to being centrally located at the back. Intro bled into Interlude 1 (Ripe & Ruin), which brought a lot of cheers (despite me not really being a huge fan of the song).
The excellent percussion-driven track, Tessellate, followed. The sound was excellent, for both this song and the entire set, with the vocals not overpowering. The fans threw their hands in the air in the shape of triangles during parts of the fans. Somewhere, Jay-Z is wishing he had some copyright.
Something Good turned into a bit of a dancey tune during the verses, which got the crowd moving. A song from Silver Linings Playbook soundtrack was next – Buffalo. This was followed by Dissolve Me, which had warm orange lights, and the crowd “oohhhing” along at parts.
The crowd totally got into the show during the next track, Fitzpleasure. People were just dying to let loose during the build up in the intro. Mid-song, singer Joe Newman randomly asked the crowd how they were doing. They responded by
throwing eggs cheering and clapping along at parts. The percussion continued to steal the show, with complex rhythms and great execution.
The softer Matilda was up next, with the crowd singing the third line “This is for Matilda” as Newman backed away from the mic.
The next song highlighted what was a minor annoyance for me. The band had these backing lights that were right at eye level for the crowd, essentially blinding us. I really could’ve done without these bloody lines. That being said, Bloodflood was an excellent track.
A xylophone made an appearance during Ms, which lead straight into their big hit, Breezeblocks. The song was well received, with the crowd reserving their cheering voices for this track. The crowd also helped out during some of the “please don’t go” parts. The band headed off for an encore to loud cheers.
Upon their return, they sort of lost the crowd with the first song, “hidden track” Hand-Made. Up next was a cover song, A Real Hero. Again, two songs the crowd weren’t overly familiar with, which is not the best way to start an encore. The band redeemed themselves by playing the closing track on An Awesome Wave – Taro. The crowd gave a huge applause, but it might’ve been in part due to actually recognizing the tune.
In their first Toronto show this year, Alt-J definitely impressed. They played all of An Awesome Wave, bar two interludes, with most of the songs coming off stronger than the album. Something Good took on a bit of a dancey feel, while some of the more complicated rhythms and layers came off without a hitch. I’m definitely looking forward to new material to fill out their setlist.
For more Alt-J concert photos (taken by the excellent Martin Bazyl Photography), head over to the PeteHatesMusic Facebook photo album. For more concert reviews, music news, and general awesomeness a) “follow PeteHatesMusic on Twitter” and b) “Like PeteHatesMusic on Facebook“. Your life just got better. Well, my life did.
PHM Rating for Alt-J: 8.5 out of 10
Setlist for Alt-J @ The Sound Academy, Toronto, Canada – March 27, 2013
1 – Intro
2 – Interlude 1 (Ripe & Ruin)
3 – Tessellate
4 – Something Good
5 – Buffalo
6 – Dissolve Me
7 – Fitzpleasure
8 – Matilda
9 – Bloodflood
10 – Ms
11 – Breezeblocks
12 – Hand-made
13 – A Real Hero (College cover)
14 – Taro