Live Review // alt J @ Manchester Central

While Manchester Central Complex packed out on Sunday 29th November, masses of security brought an added edge to the night.

A masterful, soul-jammed performance from popular wordsmith Ghostpoet soon soothed the venue, however. The smooth Londoner bounced around the stage, giving quality time to tunes from latest album ‘Shedding Skin’. This was an act I’d been keen to see after missing his sets at a couple of festivals over the years. His stage presence and all round performance over delivered on my expectations – ending on ever-resonant Peanut Butter and Melancholy Jam track ‘Liiines’.

Soon after The Horrors took to the stage, offering up their unique blend of dream pop, gothic and post-punk rock. The band, who formed way back in 2005, made a solid impact, with brooding monotone vocals cloaked by the darkened, whirring instrumentals that have become so synonymous with their sound. These musicians have mixed and mashed genres ever since debut cult LP ‘Strange House’ and definitely still hold the ability to captivate a crowd.

Cue alt J’s Gus, Joe and Thom. Not until they entered the fray, did Central’s ardent audience find its full voice. As always, the Mercury Prize winners played a lengthy, unwavering set – as is the consistent quality of their back catalogue. Each track ended in rapture, onlookers lapping up an accomplished live performance. Fans and critics alike have come to expect nothing less.

An effortless flow of swimming, harmonious vibrations – would be my ‘describe alt j in one sentence’. Across the globe, there is a great sense of admiration for what these guys do.

Watching alt J for a fifth time since their meteoric emergence in 2013, it was great to be part of a crowd so distinctly and overwhelmingly smitten by the band and their revolutionary sound. The venue played a big part too. Emphasising a psychedelic lights show and other worldly acoustics.

This gig kicked off the trio’s headline UK tour in style. Climaxing with an entrancing four song encore – Hunger of the Pine, Warm Foothills, Taro and Breezeblocks – the band left those present with a sweet ringing in their ears, one which they carried out into the brisk November night.


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