Alt-J Celebrate Debut Album’s Anniversary on First Night of North American Tour
March 14, 2023
Alt-J – Kings Theatre – March 13, 2023
2012 was a year: The Artist won Best Picture at the Oscars. We lost “the voice” — Whitney Houston — and welcomed Blue Ivy Carter to the world. Queen Elizabeth celebrated her Diamond Jubilee, while the East Coast was hit by Hurricane Sandy. Amongst the ebbs of highlights, the British indie rock band Alt-J released their acclaimed debut album, An Awesome Wave, which won the Mercury Prize that year. After a break in 2018, the band released their fourth studio album, The Dream, last year and toured to support its release. Not to forget their debut celebrated a 10-year anniversary, the lads again hit the road this year, playing the full album in its entirety for the first time in the US. The tour kicked off on a rainy Monday night at Brooklyn’s Kings Theatre for two sold-out shows.
“Intro,” with its delicate instrumental build, elicited applause from the get-go before lead singer Joe Newman’s almost nasal-like vocal punctured the room. The pair of “Tessellate” and “Breezzelblocks” had everyone on the floor grooving and bobbing their heads. For longtime fans, including myself, the joy of hearing the album track for track, something bands rarely do, was truly special. This evening reminded me why this record is masterful and without a skippable track in the bunch. It cohesively melds one song into another with interludes to give pause to what’s to come.
Drummer Thom Sonny Green set the pace after “Interlude 2” into “Something Good” with a rattling of the snare. There was little banter except for the occasional thanks. Keyboardist and backing vocalist Gus Unger-Hamilton seemed to be the spokesperson, remarking, “Thank you, Brooklyn. Thanks for celebrating with us in this beautiful place.” He’d also shared that many people have said to them that An Awesome Wave changed their lives, and it certainly changed Alt-J’s life. As the album concluded, they continued on with other songs from various subsequent releases, from 2017’s “In Cold Blood” to recent single “U&ME,” before the band capped off the show with something new, “Hard Drive Gold”, and fan-favorite “Left Hand Free.” —Sharlene Chiu | @Shar0ck
Photos courtesy of Toby Tenenbaum | @TobyTenenbaum