While it may go without saying, Massey Hall is one of the most beautiful and unique concert experiences in the city of Toronto. It’s historic and original look, which will be getting a bit of an overhaul over the next two years, is the perfect backdrop for many different music genres and performances. Friday and Saturday night’s performances really set a new bar for how the space could be transfigured. With a band like alt-J, could we expect anything less?
On the heels of their latest album, Relaxer, England’s own alt-J brought their sonic sounds back to Toronto, to play Massey Hall with their friend Bishop Briggs, on October 27th and 28th.
Bishops Briggs kicked off the night with another breathtaking performance. While last year’s “River” helped to fast track Bishop Briggs (aka Sarah Grace McLaughlin) into the spotlight, it was her other tracks that really cemented her opening set at Massey Hall. Bishop’s dynamic vocal range takes a song, like “Hi Lo (Hollow)”, from ordinary to unforgettable. When Bishop Briggs belts out the second half of the chorus on “Hi Lo”, good luck picking your jaw up off of the floor.
After a quick intermission, fans returned to their seats to find a fully transformed Massey Hall stage. At the forefront of the stage, there stood three individual platforms. Each of these were enclosed in rows of LED light pillars, in almost a prison cell-like fashion, although these English gentlemen would not be held captive.
Coming to the stage to “3WW”, alt-J set the tone pretty early that this would be no ordinary show. The opening track on Relaxer, released in June of this year, “3WW”’s brooding atmospheric tones were accentuated by the powerful light show from the LED light pillars. Their third full length album marks another successful outing for the British-trio, but tonight’s performance would carry highlights and favourites of all three; from their latest single, “In Cold Blood” to “Left Hand Free” and “The Gospel of John Hurt” off of 2014’s This Is All Yours, and countless off of their debut An Awesome Wave (including “Bloodflood”, “Fitzpleasure”, “Taro”) and more! The set list was enough for any alt-J fan to gush, and their performance was practically note for note.
When Massey Hall closes later this year for renovations, let’s hope they take alt-J’s modern approach to transform the space; a new precedence has been set. But hey, I’ll settle for a little more leg room!