Alt-J, The Horrors and Ghostpoet Review at Manchester Central: 29th November, 2015
By Jake Sayer.
Back in September, we fine folk here at Supajam managed to bag a couple of tickets to see Alt-J at the Manchester Central Convention Complex. Last night, after a long wait, we finally got to see them and weren’t disappointed.
Arriving early with beers in hand (as all good reviewers do) we crammed up against the railing at the front of the stage. It wasn’t long then until recent Mercury nominee, Ghostpoet, came on stage and for a few ditties his unmistakable singing style provides an interesting alternative to what you expect to hear in mainstream music. This, accompanied by the interesting melodies and guitar riffs found in tracks like ‘X Marks the Spot’, makes him an eclectic joy to open proceedings.
Following on from Ghostpoet The Horrors take a more full-blooded approach to performing. Opening with ‘Mirror’s Image’, it's very clear what they're going for. Guitarist and bassist whirl around the stage awkwardly whilst singer Faris Badwan switches between slinging the microphone stand about aggressively and pacing philosophically round the stage, waiting for the long musical intros or interludes to end. The characteristic musical chaos of The Horrors is a confusing tempest.
Finally, after the age you'd expect to feel after essentially seeing three headliners in one night, Alt-J take to the stage and open with the appropriately named ‘Intro’, taken from their most recent album This Is All Yours.
‘Every Other Freckle’ follows and paints their unique take on indie rock by combining obscure vocals, smooth guitar riffs and versatile electronic sounds into one. Initially and notoriously sheepish, it was clear when the recognisable opening riff of ‘Left Hand Free’ started playing that they had gained more confidence on stage from their early days, and this was confirmed when they signalled for the audience to clap along which everyone dutifully obliged.
It wasn't all perfect. Halfway through they take a slight sideways step with their cover of Bill Withers’ ‘Lovely Day’ which personally wasn't needed. Any concerns from fans of their debut An Awesome Wave not getting a look in were appeased and the set concluded with “Taro”, leaving everyone with the powerful oriental sounding chorus ringing in their ears.
Alt-J are touring in the UK on their This Is All Yours tour until the 8th of December, and we strongly recommend seeing them if you can. Why? Because they are making their natural ascent to festival headliners. Not only that but there’s an impressive amount of cowbell used, and as we all know, you can never have enough cowbell.