We Sent A 62-Year-Old To Review Alt-J's Sydney Gig
If love knows no age then neither does music. To test this theory we sent along Alt-J's biggest fan, a 62-year-old father of two, to review their gig at the ICC Sydney Theatre.
Alt J, then a four piece who had formed in 2007 whilst studying at Leeds University, first came to my attention in 2012. Their debut album, An Awesome Wave, was shortlisted for and subsequently won The Mercury Prize that year. In spite of my being what most of their audience and probably too the readership of this review would regard as unfeasibly old and surely too deaf even to hear and appreciate their music, I was captivated.
Breezeblocks was of course the hook that got me in as was no doubt the case with most of their newfound audience. Had it not been for that song getting reasonable airplay on the otherwise quite restricted playlists of the UK's mainstream radio stations and their Mercury Prize success I may never have heard of them. Having once heard of them however, I was keen to know more and bought the album in CD format, another giveaway as to my advancing years.
As my familiarity with the music grew over multiple hearings I came to appreciate it as a complete body of work, consistent in both tone and flavour and applauded the Judging Committee on their fine decision. I was so impressed that I decided to repurpose the album as a Xmas present for one of my sons, I forget which. This was a risky move as my musical taste, in my own eyes of course excellent, might have been far apart from theirs and to them have seemed like the audio equivalent of 'Dad Dancing'. Xmas morning present opening did not however generate any rolling of the eyes but rather an eagerness to find an ancient piece of equipment capable of accommodating this antique format. I think we may have had to sit in the car, itself old enough still to have a CD player.
I was gratified therefore on Saturday when I was invited by my older son to join him at the live performance at the ICC Sydney Theatre. The younger son, otherwise engaged, was suitably envious.
I do not propose to run through the set list, I'm sure that that has been adequately covered by other correspondents. Suffice it to say that the new album, Relaxer, got a good hearing in the earlier part of the evening, but that in spite of music of consistent quality and interest, it fell to the two big numbers to close out the evening on a high. Lest there be doubt as to their identity we are talking about Left Hand Free and of course Breezeblocks. Not only did those two numbers generate considerable animation in the ranks of the audience but they also stirred a bit of movement, albeit relatively modest, amongst the band members who had hitherto been studiously cool.
I thoroughly enjoyed the evening in that musically it was everything that I had expected. In recognition perhaps of their own reluctance to engage in extravagant showmanship the band had provided visual stimulation in the form of an impressive light show. I am prompted now to consider purchasing all three albums on vinyl, if indeed they are available in that format, as having heard the music without the restrictions imposed by a digital rendition I am reluctant to go back. The quality of their music is worthy of a complete sound range.
- Simon Lewis.