Concert Review: Worthy of the Colosseum, Alt-J are let down by the Forum


Forum was not the best choice of venue for Alt-J. Their atmospheric tones and waves of psychedelia are best experienced in a tightly-packed space with a lower ceiling, so no sound can escape. Unfortunately, Forum was not sold out for their concert and I couldn’t help but think that the experience would have been all the more absorbing in a smaller space.

A band for all ages
Having said that, the English trio did not disappoint their Copenhagen cohort, delivering favourites from all three of their albums with impressive precision. Lead vocalist Joe Newman’s mesmerising high-pitched voice was in perfect working order as the 3,000+ audience sang their hearts out with him.

The British Mercury Prize-winning band entertained an audience with a surprising age range considering that their music is aimed very much at teens and young adults. Their mix of instrumental harmonies, slightly baffling lyrics and everyday audio samples make their sound completely unique. One might say you have to have a particular taste to like Alt-J, but at the same time their sound is inoffensive and musically sophisticated, which is why they are beginning to appeal to older audiences as they become more well-known.

Flashes of brass
Some examples of the sounds they sampled and that were heard bouncing off Forum’s ceiling included field recordings from Cambridgeshire’s Ely Cathedral, including its organ and burning sounds from its heaters. The band’s self-named ‘interweaving vocals’ and ‘flashes of brass’ are what fans have come to expect from them, and the Copenhagen crowd were thoroughly impressed.

I found myself disappointed by the choice of venue. Not to take anything away from the band or their performance, but on other occasions when I have watched Alt-J in smaller venues, the atmosphere was truly all-consuming. Their performance in Copenhagen was almost flawless. They did everything they could and the audience were still bubbling with giddy excitement and straining their hoarse voices as they shuffled out of the venue into the Danish rain singing “Breezeblocks”.