Tuesday 13 November 2012

Paradiso And Alabama Shakes Fall For Each Other

About a year ago not many people heard of the band Alabama Shakes. And now they're already selling out Paradiso. Their combination of blues and soul caught on with many people. For a large part thanks to singer Brittany Howard with her impressive voice and appearance, who was still a postal worker only some one and a half year ago. Their show a few months back didn't disappoint for a bit, so we're ready for some more.

Alabama Shakes at Paradiso Amsterdam, November 8 2012

It's clear they have grown as a band in the past months. The band is playing even more tight. Performing so many live shows sure has paid off. Howard is a delight to watch. Her passionate way of singing is a show by itself. She's really feeling the lyrics, enforcing the songs by pointing a finger or opening her eyes wide, her glasses on the tip of her nose. She looks like a teacher or mother teaching us a lesson. At other times her eyes are closed, head bent backwards and mouth wide open when she's unleashing one of her mighty roars. The rest of the band are more static and to the back, although you can see they're totally into it as well. If any of the other musicians would have been more active and more to the front, it would probably have been too much anyway. Now it's all nicely balanced with Howard's appearance.

She mentions that they heard many things about this venue and that it's living up to it. That seems an honest comment, since she's smiling from time to time, contentedly looking around the hall, when the crowd cheers at the end of a song. With only one album out, there's not much material for a long set list. They do show case a few new songs that sound more rock 'n' roll. But again it's the soul songs that are the most convincing. A laid back groove in hit song 'Hold On', together with that impressive voice reaches to great heights. They must have played it hundreds of times by now, but nevertheless it doesn't sound obligatory at all. The songs where Howard is unstrapping her guitar and is crooning around the stage, 'Be Mine' and 'I Still Ain't Got What I Want' are of rare beauty. The combination with that little bit of Paradiso magic make it by far the best of three performances I have seen them play this year.

It is going to be interesting to see how this band will develop. What will future songs and records sound like? As long as they can keep the passion, honesty and this much soul, I don't see people getting tired of them fast. One thing's for certain: Howard's US Post days are definitely over. After the show we get another treat: we're still on time to catch most of Bombay Show Pig's performance upstairs.

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