It's just a few days shy of a year since the release of Alt-J's genre-defying master-piece, An Awesome Wave , and I find myself standing in Brixton Academy for the first of the band's sold-out two night residency at the historic South London venue. It's been a meteoric rise for the band who have gone from university side project to Mercury and Ivor Novello (for 'Best Album' which was awarded this night) award winners in an impressively short time-frame.

One thing which is instantly clear from the crowd is that this is a band which defy pigeonholing. A mere glance across its 5000 strong patrons and you'll see indie kids, ravers, punks, scenesters and everything in between, all united by the anticipation of having the hottest ticket in the capital tonight. As the subdued opening piano chords of the album opener, 'Intro', echoed out across the hall the crowd collectively held their breath, before unleashing a huge choral 'Yeeah', as the track burst to life.

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In spite of Newman's struggle with losing his voice, the band performed a truly spell-binding set. Buoyed by the crowd, who were incredibly vocal throughout, they showed why they have become such a formidable force live. Each member of the band adds a really distinct flavour to their sound; on 'Tessellate', Green demonstrated his bewitching, off-kilter drumming style (reminiscent of early Bloc Party) in a track which got the crowd moving. 'Dissolve Me' showcased Newman's playful falsetto in its anthemic chorus; interplaying vocally with Unger-Hamilton. The frontman stepped back from the mic on the song's highest notes, pointing the crowd into action, to which they duly obliged. In these moments you could sense that these four young men from the north were taking nothing for granted, a genuine look of delight and humility overcoming their faces at the response they were receiving.

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The upbeat, gnarled sound of 'Fitzpleasure' kicked the sentimentality of the band, and brought the party atmosphere to life in this historic hall. As the song's drop landed it the venue's speakers were pushed to their limits as they emitted a wall of heavy, distorted bass, shaking the crowd to their core. As the opening lead guitar of 'Breezeblocks' was picked out by Sainsbury's fingers the crowd once more erupted. It's testament to what this band have achieved that music as relatively non-mainstream has ended up finding such universal appeal and radio play.

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After disappearing for a short respite, Newman and co returned to the stage with a host of string musicians to play out album-closer 'Taro'. The curious eastern-sounding guitars, the luscious depth of the backing musicians, and the punchy vocal work of Newman and Unger-Hamilton made it a worth closer to a set full of highlights. As the band took to the front of the stage they were greeted by a sea of fans with arms aloft, making their iconic triangle hand gesture back at them. 12 months ago they could never have imagined nights like this one... what heights will they reach in another 12 months? Only time will tell...

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