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Live Review + Photos: Alt-J - Auckland Town Hall, Auckland

Live Review + Photos: Alt-J - Auckland Town Hall, Auckland

Review: Paul Larsen, Photography: Gabrielle Stoddard / Wednesday 13th December, 2017 11:50AM

When Alt-J last played Aotearoa, it was amongst the smouldering concrete and tarmac of Silo Park at 2013’s Laneway Festival. Tonight, four years later, the salubrious confines of the Auckland Town Hall are the fittingly ornate stage for their return, and first headline show on our shores.

And what a return it is. From the opening bars of '3WW' from their newest record RELAXER, it’s clear this is going to be a finely tuned show, crafted explicitly to delight. Everything from the lighting to the set list (which remains unchanged on the tour to date) is orchestrated and deliberate. Though this would ordinarily strangle the life out of most live acts who rely on the chaos of a live show, it’s a state of mind Alt-J have built their formidable live act on.

Divided into a triptych of segmented LED arrays, the stage resembles something of a math-rock prison with a cell housing each member of the band. They don’t stray from these cells either - a fittingly complicated but neatly appealing setup for a group who pride themselves on being something a little more than a rock band.

’Something Good’ is the first sing-along before ‘Tessellate’ sets the crowd off on their first real dance of the night. The sound is noticeably excellent, with Gus Unger-Hamilton’s synth soaking into every corner of the venue, punctuated by the vital drums of Thom Sunny Green and record-perfect vocals of singer, Joe Newman.

Despite being ostensibly a tour for newest record RELAXER, the set itself is dominated by tracks from the band’s mercury prize-winning debut An Awesome Wave that gets an impressive outing of nine songs in total. However, there’s still room for some variation, with some of the night’s highlights coming from of excursions into quieter territory. The RELAXER couplet of ‘Hunger of the Pine’ and ‘The Gospel of John Hurt’ stands out as an inviting reminder of some of the band’s more spacious music.

After a heartfelt few words of admiration and thanks from the band, a punchy encore of ‘Intro’, ‘Left Hand Free’ and ‘Breezeblocks’ sees the rapturous crowd on their way into the balmy night. With just two more shows booked in New Zealand (Auckland tomorrow and Wellington on Thursday), it could be a while before we get to see them like this again. Be there if you can.

5 ∆‘s out of 5

Check out photographer Gabrielle Stoddard’s snaps of the event below…


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Wed 13th Dec
Auckland Town Hall, Auckland
Thu 14th Dec
TSB Arena, Wellington

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