Alabama Shakes, King Tut’s, Glasgow

Star studded audiences, tickets going for ten times their value and riding on a whirlwind of frenzied hype the Alabama Shakes rode into Glasgow. The atmosphere in ‘Tuts was electric, a packed crowd grinning in fevered anticipation, and there hung a hopeful sense of magic in the sweaty air. All too often bands arrive amidst the frenzied ‘the next big thing’, ‘band du jour’ and even every once in a while ‘the voice of a generation’. The album delivered but will the live performance equate the hype?

Bounding onto the tiny stage like a Southern preacher, Brittany Howard had the crowd in the palm of her hand from her first breaths ‘Goin to the Party’. Her soul-drenched holler has been compared to everyone from Janis Joplin, Howlin’ Wolf and Aretha Franklin her voice is something to really behold a Southern bellow that defies belief and stereotype in equal measure, whilst she contorts her face and attacks her geetar with bullying vigour.

Throwing their biggest song, the gospel-tinged ‘Hold On’ so early into their set could prove catastrophic for many bands but the ‘Shakes pull it off with ease, with the audience joining in the sermon all hands in the air and singing along.
Most of their debut album ‘Boys & Girls’ gets a preview with the soulful refrain ‘Hang Loose’ and the hearfelt, spine tingling ‘I found You’, follow in quick precesion. ‘Boys & Girls’ starts with Howard telling the crowd ‘I’m gonna tell y’all a lil storee….’ in her honeyed Southern drawl as the crowd whoops and claps, hanging onto every word and hollered syllable. Whilst the rest of band Heath Fogg and Zac Cockrell (can you get much cooler) and Steve Johnson also deliver a confident, assured and energetic performance. ‘Heavy Chevey’ is a rollicking, raccous shot of Southern rock n soul, a perfect set closer.

Remarkably, Alabama Shakes are doing nothing new, or fashionable but a band who with so much soul and conviction that everything else seems irrelevant. This time, believe the hype.

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