Live at Live At Leeds 2012 on Saturday, 5th May 2012
Alt-J stood tall and thin at the front of the vanilla-basin that is the Holy Trinity Church. Firstly, it has to be said that the venue was an interesting accompaniment to the Dubstep-tinged act. It was a visually awkward performance for the spectator, as gyration to bass in rows of pews felt a little impure. Despite this, Alt-J's distinguishable, raw character hit the spot as they shone through sublimely. With a debut release just around the corner, the Leeds quartet look set to hit a rich source of popularity. The LP "An Awesome Wave" will be released 28th May through Infectious Music.
During the ambient "Tessellate", a prominent feature of Alt-J is unleashed. Joe Newman's voice does not match his body. You'd expect the words to come out of a shrivelled, 5ft mythical creature drawn by Hayao Miyazaki. Whatever Newman does, or where it comes from, his voice definitely stands out amongst other vocalists. We all know their favourite contour as Newman quavers, "Triangles are my favourite shape" on microphone. A delicate outing that is already confirmed as track 3 for Alt-J's album.
A parade-drum roll tugs "Something Good" along before delving into soothing, folk-flavoured bop. Trickling keys chop it up here and there making it a calming, gritless performance. "Breezeblocks" is currently racking up the hits on YouTube with a thrilling topsy-turvy video. The song itself is dominated by Newman, who haunches over each word with sullen, surging wallows. The underlying riffs and body-traversing bass blossom over a thumping snare. A section at the front decided to take to their feet, sticking out like a sore thumb and probably obscuring the view of other people. As eye-catching as the Trinity Church is, it wasn't the best-suited venue for the performance. The acoustics accompanied Lucy Rose just prior to Alt-J much fairer, who was wonderfully disciplined over chatting fans and technical hitches.
"Matilda" gets progressively better, a warming track with a chorus of more lurched vocals and high-pitched key-jigs. It was followed by "Taro", a succulent, orchestral affair that is destined to close the new album. They received all the applause and vocal-approval from the crowd very well, finishing up with "Fitzpleasure", which is an Alt-J signature track. The drop at the start could be listened to over and over and over... it is that good. Boom she pleasure indeed.
It's strange when you see him stray from the stark, blue-grey videos lodged in your memory, into a heart-warming, dark-orange venue like the Brudenell. His presence is more animated and friendlier than expected- he breaks the ice with a grip of the mic. Flanked by a drummer and a guitarist, experimental hip-hop artist Ghostpoet began his set deep into Saturday night.
It had been a long day for those who had been "LALLING" since 11am (I am never calling it that again), particularly those who had been in the city and decided to come up to Brudenell for the last act (me included). This didn't stop the Brudenell faithful who weaved and nodded throughout. Branding Ghostpoet an "act" isn't really appropriate, as he has to be the most human person on the line-up. His "think aloud" approach unlooses spools of his mind upon pricked-ears. With a table of tech-gubbins he whisked up an alternate take to tracks from Mercury-prize nominated "Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam".
His drowsy flow, smoked tone and succinct lyrics are all part of an achy, succumbing disposition that makes him so likeable. "Gaasp" is an ideal soundtrack for a rundown night-bus. Dejected keys, Ghostpoet calling "Breath it, breathe it in". It's downcast, but soaked up and enjoyed nonetheless. "Us Against Whatever Ever" is engulfed by one line. Ghostpoet is all the stuff you write and then cross out, his actual feelings are captured in a few lines. "Round and Round we go, when's it gonna stop? I ain't been paid and I ain't got a lot".
"Survive It" is instantly recognised by the crowd as the first notes descended, it stood out from the set as a more uplifting track. "Liiines", another famous entry, is sweetly performed, and another simple take on life from Ghostpoet's position: "Life is too short to store up grudges, life is too long to make no plans". The Brudenell had a dance floor vibe that night- the energy levels were commendable.
"Cash and Carry Me Home" on record is contained and poised, but in his live set the drummer brings the pace up. The crowd caught on and someone audaciously twirled their way on stage. Despite Ghostpoet's initial attempts to "Low it", he couldn't resist encouraging everyone else up as well. Illuminated in a golden wash, a mob bounced with the rapper as he enunciated, " Carry me homeah, homeah, homeah, homeaaah!". I don't think he has ever got a crowd reaction quite like that, but the spontaneity of it made feel special. Extreme veneration is due to all three performers as they put a cap on a well-woven, inner-city bash.
Coincidently a remix has been made involving both Alt-J and Ghostpoet. Intrigued?