As far as live performances go, there is a fine line between sounding like a studio band forced to play on stage, and an outfit capable of delivering total live magic. British indie band alt-J have constituted to blur that line, creating a live performance of incredible worth and pulsing rhythm. If the signature back and forth other-worldly vocal harmonies between Joe Newman and Gus Unger-Hamilton haven’t already won you over, the level of chemistry immersed in the precise live instrumentation surely will. Alongside Cameron Knight on guitar and bass and Thom Green on drums, alt-J excellently carve their place in stone, figuratively and literally with the band’s first live album and DVD – Live At Red Rocks.
Most of the band’s singles and album standouts since 2012 have proven to reach anthemic heights, globally winning them a respectable large fan base. This release is the band’s first live album and DVD, with the tantalising performance recorded in Colorado only adding to their admirable reputation. Hunger of the Pine gets the ball rolling, as a pulsing analog monotone synth note repeats, engaging the audience while Newman lays down the first vocal cries in his signature alt-J sound. A cloud of folk driven indie-rock is formed around a dreamy mist of onstage confidence as Newman and Unger-Hamilton’s amicable vocals howl dynamically, finely pairing with one another before summoning a crescendo of singing cries and creating space for a distorted synth and guitar breakdown. Clever and tight drum methods co-operate freely as alt-J rumble into the second track – Fitzpleasure. Newman’s vocals whilst making it hard sometimes to comprehend the lyrics, instead add another instrumental aspect to the songs that alt-J have elected for the album. The band assembles a terrific model to maintain audience hunger, administering with satisfying consideration; a set of carefully plucked songs off both of their studio albums. Graciously teetering with anxieties and emotions, alt-J have done well in tapping into the conscious power that is dispensed from the Red Rocks amphitheatre, structuring their live playlist to include songs such as parts I and II of Bloodflood, and the choir studded, hymn-like focus visited right through Interlude 1. It is hard sometimes to distinguish whether Unger-Hamilton and Newman are individually singing as their vocals act like instruments in their own right. Woven throughout and delayed behind instrumental items – they delightfully confuse the ears in an unexpected reaction. They close the show with a spinning live version of crowd favourite Breezeblocks, only further adding to the audience’s unbreakable infatuation – ending the concert somewhere in a floating hallucinogenic orbit.
Flowing with unhinged amplitude, alt-J authenticate with this record that a performance bestowed upon an invitingly thirsty audience is a jolting experience to behold. Pinned against soft-hearted soul music and done with dedicated interpretation and classy harmonic smears, the band’s mesmerising audible momentum is captured inside and out their Live At Red Rocks concert.