20th Jan 2013 11:28pm | By James Thompson
Unless you've been under a rock you'll be aware of the Alabama Shakes. The Southern US five piece exploded onto the scene without serendipity – you could say their global following comes from their rustic brand of roots/blues rock.
The Metro audience had the pleasure of seeing the band on their Australian debut before the Big Day Out and my god they did not disappoint. The lights went down to a Beatles cover of Come Together, encouraging the anticipating Thursday crowd to watch, listen and evidently be amazed.
The archaic image that the band thrive on made me feel like I was in the middle of Alabama drinking booze from a jam jar whilst sat in a small town hick bar. The first half of the hour and a half set had a slower than normal pace to it, however this was soon intensified. Their 70’s rock equipment aided them in pursuing their authentic and original sound and the set layout was easily simple as there was no need to wow the audience with special effects and lights as Brittany Howard’s voice covered these elements.
I was not the first, and surely will not be the last, to make the mistake of thinking that the voice of the Shakes was male - I felt slightly ashamed. Nevertheless, Brittany Howard’s voice live challenges the likes of Adele – effortlessly hitting note after note, connoting every word and narrating every phrase/track to the crowd. The big busty woman could easily rival the likes of Kylie Auldist from The Bamboos for aunty of the year – I just wanted to give her a big hug. Her agonising and outrageous facial expressions lure you in and with similar sounds to Ottis Redding and the likes of Buddy Guy Legend. I felt she was singing solely for me.
Every song was captivating; they actually played the likes of Hang Loose and Hold On very early on. I sometimes feel watching a band, who has only released one album that some of their album fillers are unexciting and I seem to switch off waiting for the classics. This was not the case for the Shakes, their new songs were electrifying and to audaciously finish on three new songs for their encore just shows that the confidence in their music is sky high – and rightfully so.
The highlight for me was You Ain’t Alone – Howard absolutely smashed it, the crowd were actually so silent when she was singing that when people did talk, they were shushed by other members of the audience – that in itself was astonishing and a first for me.
Personally, I had goosebumps all the way through the set. Their raw live sound is of album quality and Howard’s deep soul brings a breath of fresh air to the blues rock/and roll genres. I have no qualms in saying that 2013 will be a very fruitful year for the band and I seriously recommend you buy their new album when it's released.