Alabama Shakes At The Olympia Theatre – Photos & Review
Alabama Shakes – Olympia Theatre – 3 November 2015
Never a subdued Tuesday in Dublin city as a heaving venue heartily await their hosts. Gritty guitar grooves and swirling organ swing the evening into orbit, backing singers belting out hauntingly as Alabama Shakes kick off the first of two dates in the Olympia Theatre.
Lead singer Brittany Howard bops and pops her shoulders to the spacey intro groove, a smooth settling start, audience expectations reassured as lead guitar slices and chops, the bass beating slow for the slick beginnings of ‘Future People’. Melting into a meaty chorus, Brittany screams ‘Children, take or leave it’, a word for the detractors not appeased by the group’s musical movement and evolution, none present here it seems.
The crowd whoop and holler as the familiar guitar intro of ‘Hang Loose’ reverberates around the room, bright electric piano plonking along, a pleasing earful of gospel rock n roll. Songs from the first album sparkle with subtle volume shifts allowing space for Brittany to breathe and scream, her voice filling up all the air under the old Olympia’s illustrious roof. She is the glue gathering all the elements together, standing proud out front and centre calling the shots, with dynamically structured songs easing around her attitude and character. The audience are ever attentive to her easy offhand manner and casual interactions, engrossed in the soulful show.
New material appears more refined in the context of their first album, produced and considered, a definite progression towards a more mature sound informed by smooth southern RnB, without losing the power and raw immediacy of Boys and Girls. ‘Don’t Wanna Fight’ especially is delivered with power and passion, while ‘Gimme All Your Love’ is sustained by the searing intensity of the scratchy screamed lead vocal. Tracks from their sophomore effort Sound and Color [sic] are more expansive musically; dynamic drums, at times, softer singing and beautiful backing vocals inject variety to the aural output.
The group perform their modern mix of rock and soul admirably and it sure does please the crowd, but the current output is certainly more interesting to the ear. The audience, however, eat up the aesthetic, the gathered grateful basking in the easy allure of sweet soul and gospel rock n roll. Finishing with the downbeat and introspective ‘Over My Head’, Alabama Shakes stroll off the stage, leaving a few standing still, scratching heads and questioning the absence of their hit ‘Hold On’, but like Brittany sings it, sometimes ‘you got to wait’.
Review by Andy Guyett
Photos by Tara Stanhope