Live Review: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard @ Alexandra Palace, London
Few modern rock acts on the planet boast an absurd grandiosity pronounced enough to be able to consider tackling Alexandra Palace. Tackling the iconic sporting venue is something that few bands do, and when it happens its always an event of the greatest proportions, by some of the most forward-thinking bands of the time. King Gizzard are no exception in this regard, though the question of whether they could pull off this consistently tough task was one that intrigued me as soon as it was announced.
I have never been the biggest King Gizzard fan on the planet, not that I have ever felt any sort of negativity towards them, it’s just that to me their discography always seemed like an insurmountable task. Naturally, when a band releases 26 albums in 11 years, it’s gonna be a lottery as to whether a new listener is gonna jump into something that they connect with straight away. I first started enjoying them in 2017 when, after hearing of the absurd feet of releasing 5 albums in a year, I retroactively listened to and was hooked by the never-ending psych opus Nonagon Infinity.
After that I largely gave up on keeping up with their releases until last year when each one of their albums kept impressing me more than the last. Changes was their last release of 2022 and their most recent album going into the Royal Albert Hall, a fact I was most excited by as, in my opinion this was their best work since I first discovered them (along with the 18-minute behemoth Dripping Tap, released earlier in the year on Omnium Gatherum). The accessibly whimsical psych-pop was something I couldn’t wait to experience live, but having purposely not looked online at videos or setlists, I was aware that to expect at a Gizzard show was to be a fool.
This sentiment turned out to be absolutely correct, for better and for worse. On the one hand more songs featured from their back catalogue than I was expecting. Seeing them perform tracks like Gamma Knife and Robot Stop from the album that got me hooked on them was an unexpected delight and they didn’t disappoint in injecting them with all the psychedelic hyper energy that you could hope for. For some reason I was, perhaps pessimistically, expecting a Falls approach of only playing their newest tracks so hearing these King Gizzard classics was a real rush. As expected, much of the set was filled with music released over the last 18 months , but I can safely say that no song disappointed, just the lack thereof.
As the set progressed, I started to become more and more puzzled, where were the Changes tracks? I was getting desperate and confused in equal measure, it just seemed to me to make the most sense that some of their newest record would feature, like every recording artist that has ever lived, but then I wasn’t watching just any act. Ultimately no cuts from Changes made an appearance and, although I would’ve loved them to, the electric set, which came in around the 2-hour mark, was a great time from start to finish. The time put into a light show that did a good job in getting close to the psychedelia of the songs they were sinking up to was really impressive. I was also unsure of what to expect from both the stage presence aspect and what the crowd was going to be like, it turns out both can be summed up by one word, joyous.
It all culminated in the perfect microcosm of the gig itself, the aforementioned behemoth, Dripping Tap. The energy and joy from the crowd, the virtuosity and love from the band, the psychedelia and grandiosity from the source material, everything just collided into one. There is almost little point in trying to sum up a King gizzard show, as each one has a completely different set list and vibe, but if their Alexandra Palace show was anything to go by, they are a band worth everyone’s time, money and soul.