Alt-J ∆ at The Trinity Centre, Bristol (3/11/12)


My first experience of the Trinity Centre couldn’t have been met with better music. Mercury Prize winners Alt-J were on tonight’s schedule, and the support band were a three piece female band from Liverpool called Stealing Sheep. I’m not one to usually enjoy female vocal harmonies [insert chart pop rubbish girl band here]but these girls bought something new and unique to the table. Emily Lansley on electric guitar brought a twanging country element to the ensemble. Their set was really interesting with the use of minimal instruments and beautiful voices leading to a warm reaction from the crowd.

Next up were the reason everyone in the venue turned up. The four piece that started out making music in student accommodation at the University of Leeds and are now looking towards global success took to the stage – Joe Newman, Gwil Sainsbury, Gus Unger-Hamilton and Thom Green. They, of course, form Alt-J. They opened with the ‘Intro’ from their debut album An Awesome Wave before playing an elongated version of ‘Tessellate’ including the choir-esque interlude that precedes it on the record. It truly is a beautiful piece of music. Joe Newman humbly thanked the crowd before introducing their latest single ‘Something Good’. The beautiful piano element in the song really shone through in the live setting, with Gus Unger-Hamiltion on the keys accompanying Joe’s completely flawless vocals. It’s hard to imagine these guys not performing when it looks so natural.

‘Dissolve Me’ and ‘Fitzpleasure’ came next and as each song was individually performed it would really hit home how incredible An Awesome Wave truly is. Each song has it’s own element of brilliance. The ‘Tra la la’ section of ‘Fitzpleasure’ is now synonymous with the band and was met by a choir of tra la las from the crowd in return. Half way through the set we got something new and very exciting from them. Joe explained how they would now be playing an unexpected, very innovative mashup of ‘Slow’ by Kylie Minogue and ‘Still D.R.E’ by Dr Dre feat Snoop Dog, aptly dubbed ‘Slow Dre’ by the band. An unlikely pairing I hear you cry! Well it completely and utterly worked. It demonstrated the band’s uniqueness and versatility.

The later half of the show included singles ‘Matilda’ and ‘Breezeblocks’ but the highlight for me had to be ‘Bloodflood’. The song has a special resonance for me as it is about Southampton Common and the fear of unsavoury characters. A familiar experience for all of us. In traditional style they finished the main part of their set with that song and filled their encore with a really great track that appears on the deluxe edition of An Awesome Wave called ‘Handmade’. Just Gus on keys and Joe on vocals, it was beautifully performed. The same way that An Awesome Wave comes to a fantastic close, they finished with ‘Taro’. I had a perfect evening.


About Author


I’m Megan Downing, an English Literature graduate from University of Southampton. I am the Music, Arts and Culture Editor for The National Student. I am the Membership and Communications Officer for the Student Publication Association, I write about music for 7BitArcade, and contribute regularly to The Culture Trip. I have a passion for live music and this is where I began in student journalism. Reviewing a gig or festival is still where my heart lies four years on. I will be starting at MTV as a News Intern in June 2015. One thing you should know about me is that I have an unhealthy obsession with Kevin Spacey.

1 Comment

  1. avatar
    Joan of Southampton on

    Southampton common and it’s unsavoury characters? A familiar experience for us all? …never happened to me…nor anyone else I know

Leave A Reply