ALT-J, Albert Hall – Evening Standard, 30 Oct 2018

Alt-J tried out some innovative speaker technology as their latest tour drew to a close, but the ears took second place after the eyes during an extraordinary light show.

The art rock trio’s two Albert Hall gigs were the UK’s first chance to experience “L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal Sound” – speakers placed right around this circular venue, which literally caused heads to turn when the synth pulse of Hunger of the Pine began to blip across the space.

Mostly, however, it was far less noticeable than the visuals. Keyboard player Gus Unger-Hamilton, guitarist Joe Newman and drummer Thom Green were separated by high walls of light rods. While the musicians were mostly static, the rods formed dancing fountains during Deadcrush, rising and falling stalactites and stalagmites during 3WW, and a decent approximation of the Northern Lights during Tesselate. When the crowd decided to wave their phones for old favourite Matilda, usually a lovely effect, it looked pretty feeble next to this extravaganza of dazzle.

It was mesmerising enough to allow the band to get away with being undemonstrative performers, as was much of the music. Already packed with unexpected pleasures, from the joyous keyboard melodies of Dissolve Me to the choral folk of Pleader, this time there was hip hop too. A new, reworked version of their third album Relaxer, titled Reduxer, offered space to leftfield rappers including Danny Brown and Pusha T, who appeared on the video screens, and Hex and Paigey Cakey, who arrived in person to add tuneful extra vocals to Adeline.

Though the seated venue suited rapt absorption of the scenery, the show really took off when the audience finally rose and moved during a final flurry that included Fitzpleasure and Left Hand Free. At that point all the elements of a triumphant concert were accounted for.

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