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The Alabama Shakes, Live At The Academy 2
When all is said and done, isn’t that what good music is all about?
Craig Fitzpatrick, 28 May 2012
They may be one of the hottest acts on the planet in 2012 but tonight, Alabama Shakes are back underground. Literally. The small crowd that can squeeze into the Academy 2, located below the main Academy venue where Yelawolf is in full flow, don’t know their luck this Saturday evening – it’s surreal to be in such close proximity to an act on the tips of every muso’s tongue. Booked here almost as an afterthought to their Kilkenny gig tomorrow, in the months since the announcement, Alabama Shakes have exploded. And they explode tonight, again and again.
We can analyse the flaws: the small number of truly great songs thus far (though the stunning ‘Hold On’ surely compensates); and the retro outlook that means their real high points are stood firmly on the shoulders of giants. They are not reinventing any wheel. But what a show they put on.
If it’s all hype and mythology, we can buy into it for now. With their soulful southern blues, Creedence Clearwater guitars and Brittany Howard’s powerful set of lungs, they come across like the kind of extraordinary Delta band you always imagine are ten-a-penny in bars across the old Confederate states, but don’t actually exist. The set is strong, full of classic rock ‘n’ roll, and really takes flight when the sentimental ‘Boys And Girls’ comes along. It encapsulates Alabama Shakes’ warm feel and love for good days gone by. Like their champion Jack White, they value innocence, cherish childhood, and clearly adore old vinyl. They’re rooted in the past, but come close to bringing it back to the present when they take to the stage. What the future holds, you don’t know. The jury is still out: they’re not quite world beaters and might flitter out of view when another bright young band come along. But, for now, Alabama Shakes are setting pulses racing. And when all is said and done, isn’t that what good music is all about?