Providing the backdrop to Mumford and Sons Friday night headline Reading slot, Alt-J deliver a sultry, intense performance that delights at every turn.
The deeply expansive and immensely satisfying soundscape Alt-J produce is at times difficult to believe given the four characters standing in front of us.
They say very little and move even less. Yet even so, it is impossible to draw your eyes away. Drenched in dense and rich textures, the Leeds outfit storm through fan favourites Tesselate, Something Good and Taro, before delivering an unforgettable rendition of Breezeblocks from their seminal debut album, An Awesome Wave. Such is the scope of Alt-J that it is difficult not to feel as if we are watching a band on the cusp of something truly great; this is no ordinary guitar band dealing simply in rehashed pop guitar musings. The almost whispered vocals of Joe Newman chime in a way in which they shouldn’t, especially when offset against the thick bass synths of Gus Unger-Hamilton. But the result of this strange combination is something brilliant; Newman is able to cut through with precision and focus, irrespective of his delicacy.
Alongside Unger-Hamilton, Cameron Knight and Thom Green’s unusual rhythmic style, Newman and Alt-J create an totally immersive atmosphere that is unique to these four confusing characters.
Never ones to deal in over enthusiasm or emotional pleasantry, Unger-Hamilton closes with a short, sweet and by his standards, energetic sign off: ’Well Reading that went really really fast, we’ve had so much fun’.
Modesty or arrogance, whatever it may be, Alt-J have lit up Reading 2015 with an eerie sense of mystery, intrigue that propels their unrivaled brand of guitar music. Long may it continue.
Photo credits: Canvasback