Live: Alt-J in Hamburg (DE), 09.02.2015

Despite not being a fan of big arena concerts, I couldn’t resist buying a ticket for Alt-J, who have somehow acquired popstar status in the mainstream pop culture. There isn’t a music magazine that hasn’t had them on the cover during the last months following the release of their critically acclaimed and Grammy-nominated second album “This is all yours”. For me it made even more sense to see their dreamy, melodic songs live when they announced North London’s new darlings Wolf Alice and later Gengahr as their support bands.

Unfortunately I arrived so late at the Alsterdorfer Sporthalle that I missed Gengahr and barely even arrived in time to catch Wolf Alice, who are on repeat in my bedroom at the moment. The quartet fronted by Ellie opened with their single “Moaning Lisa Smile”, one of their heavier songs. I couldn’t even see the stage from where I was standing so I just concentrated on the music. Wolf Alice didn’t slow down after that and burst out loud massive songs like “Storms” and “You’re a Germ”. Latter was dedicated to a friend of theirs whose birthday was that day. They only slowed down for “Blush”, during which one could admire singer Ellie’s beautiful singing voice (accompanied by drummer Joel Amey), which was otherwise lost in the badly mixed guitar noises. The sound was really something that bothered me and many other guests at the arena. It was impossible to make out the instruments in the big noise that came out of the speakers.

Wolf Alice picked up the speed again and raced through the rest of their set. During one song Ellie ditched her guitar and went down into the crowd while screaming in impossibly high tones. They finished their set with their hits “Bros” and “Fluffy”. During the set the band barely spoke to the crowd except for some shy “Danke”s. I hate to say it but the size of the venue, the bad sound and their choice of songs ruined Wolf Alice’s set a bit. It was just not as pleasant as the beautifully recorded versions of the songs. And my personal favourite “Heavenly Creatures” was missing.

In the break before Alt-J would take the stage, the crowd was entertained with indie hits from Foals, Bloc Party, The Maccabees, Django Django, Arctic Monkeys and others. The waiting didn’t seem that long and a bit later we could her the beeping intro of “Hunger of the pine” while the three members of Alt-J and their live bassist took the stage. They were welcomed with erratic screams that you would rather expect at a boyband concert.

Very impressive light show! (© A.Hachmeister)
Very impressive light show! (© A.Hachmeister)

Alt-J took the crowd’s enthusiasm and drove them even crazier with the mighty “Fitzpleasure”. I would love to know how many people in the crowd knew what they were singing along to because the lyrics “In your snatch fits pleasure, broomstick-ed pleasure” are a little bit freaky. Nevertheless the crowd celebrated their experimental indie heroes. “Fitzpleasure” was followed by “Left Hand Free”, the third single and most outstanding song from their new album. If possible, the guests went even wilder than before to this song. The untypically upbeat, catchy song is one of my personal favourites, too.

The crowd wasn’t going to get any rest soon as singer Joe Newman announced the next songs “Something Good” and “Matilda”, both beautiful songs from their debut album “An Awesome Wave”. “Matilda” was the perfect invitation to sing along to and get lost in the spherical sounds and Joe’s beautiful singing voice.

After the beginning of their set was filled with these hits, the band calmed down after that and played a mix of new songs (including “Every Other Freckle”), a song from an old EP and other old songs. Another crowd’s favourite was the a capella Interlude that led into “Tesselate”, the infamous triangle love song. When the band actually left the stage without saying goodbye the crowd started chanting for an encore and their biggest hit “Breezeblocks”. They got their wish in the shape of a four-song encore topped by the crowd’s favourite.

Another thing worth mentioning was the amazing lighthow that intensified the whole experience. From pulsing strobo effects over beautiful sunset and forest meadow lights to fiery clouds, you could find anything on the giant LED wall behind the band.

It was the combination of great opener acts, a stunning performance and the visual support made the night really worth its money.


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