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5th April 2023

Live review: Alex G at Manchester’s O2 Ritz

The Philadelphian musician performed anthem after anthem in an eclectic mix of genre-bending hits
Live review: Alex G at Manchester’s O2 Ritz
Photo: Alex G @ Ailish O’Leary Austin

Alex G’s music is characterised by a Lo-Fi, occasionally folk, indie soundscape. Yet, with his more recent album God Save the Animals, he reaches into the realm of hyperpop and infuses his music with a more energised and autotuned sound. Though his music has always been turbulent in style, his Manchester performance blended lively and emotional in perfect harmony. 

After the support act Momma’s alt-rock riffs had echoed throughout the O2 Ritz, Alex G appeared with his band of old high school friends and enthusiastic new members. The stage was decorated with a display of lights and the album cover for God Save the Animals loomed behind him – a series of vibrant painterly birds which was, as all of his album covers have been, designed by his sister. Despite the packed, sold-out venue, the performance maintained an authentic homely feel.  

Photo: God Save the Animals – Official Album Art

Having worked with Frank Ocean on the critically-acclaimed 2016 album Blonde, Alex G’s use of autotune on his newest album demonstrates the influence of Ocean’s experimental work. The set began with ‘S.D.O.S’, a song which establishes the tone for his new album’s sound.

Alex G sat at a keyboard with the somewhat sinister sound of his distorted chanting echoing around the room. The way that the song uses hyperpop elements alongside intense lyrics orchestrates an eerie sensation that sweeps you into the world of the album. 

He then glided straight into ‘Runner’, heavy lyrics meeting pop beats in an off-kilter singalong track. Alex G’s impressive ability to unify misaligned sensations carried throughout the show. ‘Hope’ exemplified his similarities to the haunting songwriting of Elliott Smith, while ‘No Bitterness’ bore a closer resemblance to the unhinged pop sensibilities of Bladee and 100 Gecs.

Photo: Alex G @ Ailish O’Leary Austin

Throughout the performance, Alex G delighted in defying audience expectations. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the middle of the gig. He was met with loud cheers as he introduced fan-favourite ‘Sarah’, only to then descend into the abrasive sounds of the punk-influenced ‘Brick’ from his 2017 album Rocket

In his songs, the Philadelphian musician is known to adopt a variety of fictional personas. His latest album explores the intricacies of religious belief and in a God Save the Animals-heavy setlist, the lyrical content of tracks such as ‘Blessing’ and ‘After All’ shone a spotlight on these interests.

Photo: Alex G @ Ailish O’Leary Austin

The planned setlist ended with a series of sadder love songs, of which ‘Miracles’ was a personal highlight. The room was captivated by the guitar-driven track and its catchy repetitions had the whole crowd echoing chants in unison. He finished the gig with ‘Forgive’, only to reappear for his signature encore, where he exclusively takes audience requests. The room was galvanised into action, vying for his attention. 

What followed was a deep dive into his extensive discography, having produced over a decade’s worth of tracks. The audience called for his earlier material and he certainly delivered. ‘Harvey’ and ‘Icehead’ evoked the atmospheric melodies of 2014’s DSU, while Beach Music’s ‘Snot’ charmed the audience with its iconic guitar solo. Having witnessed the joyous reaction to his earlier deception, he ended the night with ‘Sarah’, which truly lived up to expectations and capped the night off with a standout performance.

You can stream God Save the Animals below:

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