Live Review: alt-J / Wilderado – 3Olympia, Dublin 22.05.2022

Words: Max Falvey // Pictures: Ian McDonnell

On the first show of a two-night stint in Dublin’s 3Olympia, alt-rock experimentalists Alt-J dazzled their boisterous Irish crowd last Sunday in support of ‘The Dream’, their latest record which dropped last February. Across a mindblowing 21-song set, each of their four albums were given the spotlight in what made for an absolutely euphoric performance, once again proving that the Leeds trio are one of the most stunning live acts around.

Support on the night came from Oklahoma indie band Wilderado, who were just a perfect appetiser for Alt-J. Playing a similar style of music but clearly having their own vibe and attitude, they impressed me so much that I’ve listened to them more than Alt-J since going to the show. Songs like ‘Morning Light’ and ‘Outside My Head’ are insanely good, the slightly heavy folk guitars mixing so well with the lead singer’s twangy voice. They had the entire audience grooving for their 9-song set, which really allowed them to bond with the Dublin crowd; “this is our first time in Ireland man, this place is great! Thanks for being so into this.” They ended their set with ‘Rubble To Rubble’, a soft acoustic piece which climaxed to an uproar of applause. “I’m sure we’ll be back one day, so keep up with us!” they said to finish their set, and damn right I will. What a brilliant start to the show.

Once Alt-J came onstage the atmosphere in the room changed. Opening with ‘Bane’, the first song off ‘The Dream’, the tone is instantly set with their reality-bending light show and on-screen visuals creating one hell of an ambience. Their stage presence is like nothing I’ve really seen before, as each member has their own platform that’s elevated at the back of the stage. I could argue that this unorthodox setup creates a lack of closeness and intimacy with the audience, but their crowd interaction and the sheer power of their songs easily makes up for it. My personal favourite off the new album ‘The Actor’ closed out the first three, sounding even better than I could’ve imagined live and beautifully showcases lead singer Joe Newman’s killer guitar skills and insane vocals. 

Their now classic debut record ‘An Awesome Wave’ had 9 of it’s songs played with only half of ‘The Dream’ getting a run out, but the audience responded so well to every song that it didn’t matter whether a song was new or old, they still belted out every word. It was by far the loudest crowd I’ve ever heard in the Olympia, which is just a testament to Alt-J’s starpower here. They continued with hits like ‘In Cold Blood’, ‘Tessellate’, and my all time fave, ‘Something Good’. Drummer Thom Sonny Green and bassist/keyboardist Gus Unger-Hamilton really deserve to be highlighted, as they produced unreal energetic performances, the latter of which sometimes played both of his instruments at the same time. Particularly on the spooky ‘Philadelphia’, where his Paul McCartney-style bass had my seat (and the room) vibrating. The musical talent between each of the three members is off the charts.
The encore was littered with a mix of old and new classics in ‘Left Hand Free’ and ‘Hard Drive Gold’, and the show was ended on the ever fantastic and iconic ‘Breezeblocks’. The crowd continued to scream in praise as the band bowed before them, as they ended their first night in ‘this fairest of fair cities’ as they called it. After such a phenomenal show, Alt-J are an extremely unique band that truly deserve the often-clichéd compliments like dreamy, ethereal, euphoric. They’re just brilliant. Even the drunk Dundalk fella sitting beside me was correct in telling me; “Ah, they’re superstars hai.” Thank you for reading.

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