Blaenavon, Alt-J @ Weston Super Mare, 08/09/2017

Alt JWeston Super Mare pier: a lengthy tome to the celebration of the great British seaside holiday and the unlikely final date for Mercury Prize 2017 nominees Alt-J in their 6-date sell-out Relaxer tour.

Swapping the fish and chips and candy floss for a weird mix of laser-light show and alternative pop-rock, the pier party was an ambient family affair that lapped at the edges of brilliance like the freezing depths of the Bristol Channel far beneath our feet.

Supported by Hampshire trio, Blaenavon who made their own mark in 2017 with several successful festival appearances, Alt-J demonstrated good old shoegazing pop at its best with any attempt at eye contact dazzled by the ocular-burning strip lighting that stunned the audience with purposeful intensity.

Luckily eye contact wasn’t what the baying crowd of sweaty teenagers and sun-baked families had come for, and true to form, the music spoke for itself.

Kicking off with the wistfully dramatic “3WW”, without uttering a word between songs Alt-J carried the crowd through a set of undulating emotions. The set tripped seamlessly through their award-winning debut album An Awesome Wave, their second and equally as successful This Is All Yours album, before ramping up the weirdness for their current offering, complete with hammer horror sound effects, police sirens, and self-indulgent guitar riffs.

The music was delivered professionally and without fault, but the meaning and enjoyment is diminished when that two-way interaction between audience and performer is lost in the spectacular. For me, the love of the live show is its rawness and texture, the whites of their eyes, the smell of the blood, sweat, and tears that produces triumphant records. In that, Alt-J don't deliver.

That said there was plenty of variety and big band sounds on offer, so it hardly mattered that we shook and shivered on a pier that at best could be described as make-shift.  Not to labour the point too much but the light show, while having the potential to irritate as it flipped colours and rhythm like a belligerent fourth member of the band did somehow work. Not normally a fan of this type of lascivious illumination and preferring a stripped back affair that delivers the intensity of the songs through the saturation of hearing rather bombardment of sight, it was nevertheless entertaining to watch the senses combine whilst trying to balance precariously between the crush of excited fans.

Inevitably all too soon the music ended with the expected encore of “Left Hand Free” and “Breezeblocks” and after the final drumbeat smashed out for the maximum dramatic effect we were all free to trip back out into the night for dodgems and ice cream.


One Response to “Blaenavon, Alt-J @ Weston Super Mare, 08/09/2017”


  1. Blaenavon, Alt-J @ Weston Super Mare, 08/09/2017 – Live List - 19/10/2017

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