To say it has been a whirlwind year for Alt J would be an understatement.
The Leeds four piece released debut album ‘An Awesome Wave’ less than a year ago, and rode the same wave to victory in last year’s Mercury Prize. The last time the band were in Glasgow they were playing to the towns tiny Art School venue. Fast forward a year they have sold out the much grander surroundings of the ABC.
As the band takes the stage, they are understated in their entrance, the band’s keyboard player Gus flashes the triangle hand gesture associated with the band, and a spattering of triangles from the crowd answer the bands calling card.
This immediately showcases a problem with the band, well, more specifically the fans base. Alt J have a certain fan base that aren’t a conventional Glasgow crowd, as they seem to hold back throwing their hands in the air in favour of saying subtly from side to side.
As the band burst into Tessellate, this is apparent. While the band’s sound doesn’t necessarily lend itself to throwing your hands in the air, Tessellate is an upbeat track that bubbles along nicely in the live surroundings. Yet, the crowd seem reserved, and unable to convince themselves to act overjoyed, in favour of looking at their feet and bobbing.
‘Dissolve Me’ is the track that breaks the crowd. Bass player Gwil finds himself on double duty, playing castanet to a euphoric crowd, as the crowd throw their hands in a celebratory mood. It’s not every day you see a Castanet solo, it’s worth at least a little fist pump.
‘Matilda’ is another fan favourite. The single is gentle as its glides throughout the ABC, as the crowd softly sing the lyric back at frontman Joe. The track is light and shows Alt J at their finest.
The night swoons in ‘Breezeblocks’, showing the bands new found comfort zone is in front of the big crowds, as they swagger through the dipping and diving track. The band sing “Please don’t go, I love you so” as the crowd sing it back as if they are desperate for the gig to go on endlessly.
The crowds wish is granted as the band comes back on for their encore, and break into a cover of College’s ‘A Real Hero’. Both Joe and Gus stand on stage, with only their vocal harmonies carrying them, without the use of instruments. The cover is as beautiful, as it is brave.
The night ends with ‘Taro’, another track that is made brilliant by the band’s use of harmonies in their vocals. The chiming guitars and crunching bass see the evening close with a definitive bang.
The Alt J wave still seems set to consume everything in its wake.