alt-J brought their Relaxer Tour to Philadelphia for a very special Halloween show this week. Staff and concertgoers alike were dressed to impress in a wide array of costumes, from Marge Simpson to Mr. Clean.
Bringing the Halloween festivities to the stage, German-born singer/producer NoMBe opened the show dressed as Jimi Hendrix. Likewise, his band strutted their stuff in Questlove, Slash, and Bootsy Collins costumes. NoMBe hails from a creative family (and he’s the godson of R&B/funk icon Chaka Khan), so it didn’t come as much of a surprise that the man definitely has talent. He performed fun (and sexy) tracks like “Freak Like Me” and his 2015 release, “California Girls.” His songs represent a wide array of influences, with no two tracks sounding entirely alike. “Do Whatchu Want To Me” is a more breezy song which he has aptly described as “a love letter from a surfer to a wave.” It was a highly enjoyable set, and the singer himself seemed ecstatic to be there, remarking “I’ve been listening to alt-J for years! So this is big!”
But of course, the big moment for everyone was the headliner’s arrival. After a lengthy set up (which would prove well worth it), the English rockers finally took the stage opening with Relaxer track “3WW,” which featured a cool lighting effect timed perfectly to their instrumentals. The rest of their 18-song set would be a near-perfect mix of songs from their three albums, An Awesome Wave, This Is All Yours, and Relaxer.
They’ve only been at it since 2012, but alt-J have perfected their live show, with visual effects that perfectly complement their music without being too distracting. And they also have an impressive number of solid tunes in their repertoire. From “Something Good” to “Tessellate” to “In Cold Blood,” there was rarely a down moment during Tuesday night’s show. Perhaps due to Relaxer‘s underwhelming reception, alt-J favored their older work during Tuesday night’s live show. The crowd was there to hear favorites like “Matilda” and “Dissolve Me” and alt-J seems to understand this, rarely pausing to chat with the crowd. They kept the side bits to a minimum, and that was totally ok.
In what was perhaps their only misstep of the night, the band opted to perform Relaxer tracks “Adeline” and “Pleader” back to back. Both are rather slow tempo tunes, which resulted in a bit of a lull in crowd attention. Toward the end of “Adeline,” the performance took a shift, and the band had the music pulsing so loudly, the bass so heavy, that you could feel it in your bones. The crowd, which had previously drifted off, seemed immediately brought back to life. So to transition back to another slow tune with “Pleader” seemed like an odd choice. Their penultimate track ended up being somewhat of a downer, before quickly turning things around and ending on a high note with a personal favorite “Fitzpleasure.”
After a brief exit, alt-J returned for the very much expected encore performance. We still had two hit tracks to hear! An Awesome Wave’s “Intro” kicked things off, followed by This Is All Yours’ “Left Hand Free.” They capped things off with an excellent rendition of arguably their biggest hit “Breezeblocks.”
2. Something Good
3. Interlude 1
6. In Cold Blood
7. Dissolve Me
9. The Gospel of John Hurt
11. Every Other Freckle
16. Intro (An Awesome Wave)
17. Left Hand Free