Alabama Shakes were in town, they blew the roof off The Boston Arms in London and hit their stride on the summer festival circuit, leaving revellers eager for more. So, having returned to Europe for a string of headlining dates, did they quench the thirst of their steadily increasing fan base?
Playing to a sold out crowd of hipsters, boys and girls, and those looking for some southern soul at The Forum in Kentish Town, the Shakes definitely upped the ante. Opening with The Squidbillies Theme and Hang Loose, throughout the course of the night they predominantly stuck to the track list off their debut record, but turned down the pace to give a fresh take on a now well received and loved album.
Stand out tracks of the night included the effortlessly beautiful Rise To The Sun, and the impenetrable build of Be Mine – which gave way to a sweaty swathe of joy from the crowd. At one point lead singer Brittany Howard threw her guitar across the stage – which with any other band would be construed as a rock and roll cliché, but here it was completely endearing. Drummer Steve Johnson literally turned up the heat by setting his cymbals on fire, and from this moment it was clear they had cut loose.
More confident yet not arrogant, self aware yet not ironic, the honest and heartfelt vibes that came from the Shakes were over far too quickly, and as the night drew to a close it’s clear the band were ending months of touring on a well earned high.
There are so many bands today that come and go, where their style easily changes with the weather. Gutless and afraid to take risks. Alabama Shakes have unapologetically struck a nerve with those ready for bullshit free tunes. And you know what? Like everyone at the Forum, I can’t wait to hear more.