After clearing out all the 10p slot machines and mopping up the sticky floor after many a spilt slush puppy from the excitement that is Weston Super-Mare’s grand pier, the venue was ready to be filled with an avid pack of Alt-J fans.
After a great opening set from Hampshire trio, Blaenavon, Alt-J took to the small make-shift stage as the final show of their six date seaside tour, and their first ever gig on a pier, a perfect way to round off the summer’s festival season.
The trio began with the dramatic ‘3WW’. The lighting would not have been good for epileptics but it was amazing for everyone else. LED strips split up the band and the lights changed to the beat. During an absolute Alt-J classic ‘Something Good’ the lights were mimicking a clapping sound in time to the high-hat drum beat. In ‘Fitzpleasure’ the lighting flashed in time with the “tra la la’s” adding a energetic feel of anger, enthralling the audience, you could hear a pin drop during the intense second long silences.
The hour and a half set allowed enough time to play the band’s whole first, mercury award winning album, give or take a few songs. The blue lights that shone during the airy sound of ‘Dissolve Me’ was a cool reminder to the band and the whole crowd that we were actually on a pier hovering above the sea. In fact, during ‘Deadcrush’, a track from the new album ‘Relaxar’ the bass was so heavy, accompanied by a strong drum beat, I am almost certain I felt the entire pier shake. The set was a perfect combination of all three well loved albums the band have released and the way each song flowed together was effortless Each song ending was dramatic enough to trick the crowd into believing it was the end of the show.
Alt-J seem to be the only band that can pull off the little interaction between themselves and the audience. I believe this is because their songs completely mesmerise the crowd. There was very little movement in the crowd but this was in no way a bad thing, everyone was obsessed with the sounds they were hearing with the hypnotic LEDs lighting up their faces.
There was a great mixture of textures during the set. Striped back ‘Ripe and Ruin’ was juxtaposed with the eerie sounds of the band’s first hit ‘Tessellate’. During ‘Pleaser’ an electric guitar riff was followed acoustic guitar riffs which was followed by the theatrical sounds of stringed instruments, which I can’t be sure, but I don’t think this has been done before, but Alt-J certainly pull it off.
The set was ended with a short and sweet encore consisting of ‘Left Hand Free’ and of course ‘Breezeblocks’, with an amber light illuminating the stage with a drum roll to finish. They ended how they began, simple and dramatic.