alt j

In a sense alt-J lead a genre of their own. With such diversity in their music, it’s hard to pin them down as just indie, alternative or rock. With the release of their sophomore album ‘This Is All Yours’ in September last year, it was about time the band performed tracks from it live in a more intimate setting, in comparison to their previous festival gigs.

Manchester Central’s gigantic space works for such artists as The Prodigy who performed just days before, but the space was wasted for a more relaxed, smaller crowd. As you enter you feel overwhelmed by its size and annoyed that you didn’t bring a torch to light your way. The only lights in the once grand train station were for the bars and the toilets. If you were anywhere in the middle you’d be able to see the strobes, but not your mate standing right next to you.

The crowd never really seemed fully engaged with the music. Even when opening act Ghostpoet came onto the stage, people seemed more interested in trying to find out where the smoking area was rather than appreciating the music. That’s not to take away anything from the London based musician’s set which was a real treat to those who had stayed. The dark stage and purple lighting complimented his rich vocals well and was reminiscent of a young Roots Manuva.

The Horrors were next to perform before alt-J took to the stage, but unfortunately the same can’t be said for their set. At one point The Horrors frontman, Faris Badwan addressed the audience saying: “At least you’re better than the Arctic Monkeys fans, but I didn’t say that’s a good thing”. You can’t blame him though as the zombies in the audience couldn’t even manage to nod their heads. Many of their songs got lost behind some excessive bass and the crowd’s sombre mood matched theirs by the end of the set.

By the time alt-J had reached the stage, the crowd were in much better spirits. Met by an incredibly warm reception, their set opened with the intro track from ‘This Is All Yours’ to which the audience finally found their feet. The band managed to cover the majority of their tracks from ‘This Is All Yours’ to ‘Hunger of the Pine’ and album favourite ‘Left Hand Free’. They didn’t neglect their debut album either, toning things down with ‘Something Good’ before switching it up with the brash ‘Fitzpleasure’.

Perhaps what was more spectacular than their catalogue of hits was the impressive strobes that accompanied them. Each was spectacularly well-timed to fit in with their more intricate songs, before dialling them back for everyone to sing along to ‘Mathilda’.

Perhaps it’s because it was a Sunday and that people were thinking about work the next morning, but people seemed generally disinterested with one in every ten actually dancing along. Every set was impressive and there isn’t a bad word to be said about the act’s performances, but it was slightly let down by the disappointingly unenthusiastic crowd.

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