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Alt-J with their Mercury Prize


After accepting this year’s Mercury Prize, the members of Alt-J  voiced confidence that the well-deserved award would be a blessing rather than a curse.

Previous winners like M People and Gomez may have largely failed to live up to high expectations but the four young graduates from Leeds insisted that they had plenty of material to ensure they can maintain the momentum of their debut album.

However, there was no evidence of this at the band’s sell out show in Ravenna.

One must assume that none of these new songs are ready to be aired in public.

As the result, they could only run through the thirteen tracks of An Awesome Wave. On record this lasts 41 minutes and, since they add no embellishments, this was pretty well the duration of the concert too. The only add on was Slow Dre, their version of the mash-up of Kylie Minogue’s Slow and Dr. Dre’s Still Dre.

While it was great to see them play their clever and literate songs, the live renditions can best be described as efficient. Furthermore, it was hard not to feel short changed by a show that lasted less than an hour.

They are not a particularly gregarious bunch either and looked a little tired to me. Perhaps undertaking a big European tour is taking its toll or maybe they were put out by the fact that the giant triangle stage prop, which was meant to light up, had recently given up the ghost.

Gus Unger-Hamilton on keyboards, wearing an Of Mice And Men T-shirt, did all the talking. This was not such an onerous task as he mainly just introduced the tunes : “This is from our debut album…. and so is this …… and here’s another one”.

The crowd was enthusisatic and showed their appreciation by making an ∆ with their hands but it all seemed a little flat and routine to me.  A live show has be more than a straight run through of familiar songs but should also contain some surprises and spontaneity. This had neither.


Review of Alt-J’s O2 Academy show (Oxide Radio)