Yesterday we posted our interview with Alabama 3 founder Larry Love (Rob Spragg), and shortly after that we went to check out their absolutely packed show at Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms venue. A little over a week ago we reviewed their most recent record, part two of the W.O.M.B.L.E trilogy – Wimmin. The show proved to be as eclectic and fantastic as both those articles implied it would be, doing total justice to the sound they’ve very possibly pioneered.
A high percentage of the fanbase for Alabama 3 got into the band when they were starting things off, and as the outfit have recently released their twelfth record, they’ve all grown up a bit since then, both on and off stage. Such was the extent to which everyone had grown up, that myself and my guest’s combined ages would probably have fit under the average age of the crowd that night. Whilst in theory this makes sense, it’s bizarre in the fact that the music would as easily appeal to those in their late teens/twenties, as it did to all the forty-sixty year olds that formed the audience.
For those of you confused by this idea, Alabama 3 make “modern music”, as they put it, or dance-meets-blues. It’s like mashed up house music, with a country vibe spreading through veins, and how this wouldn’t appeal to today’s current house scene baffles me. Albeit unable to see the stage regardless of positioning due to the sheer volume of people, the room became a hotbox of music, making it possible to soak up the vibrant sound with equal clarity wherever you lost yourself.
At one moment there’s a harmonica piercing the sound, the next there’s Larry Love’s raspy vocals rolling over the music and shaking the room; from the spoken word intros to the lengthy instrumental sections, the impressively tight show was almost of studio standard, and it’s not hard to see why many commend them as one of the best live bands. The show was excellently refined and to a T; unexplained hats and glasses completed the on stage “look”, a frantic light show featuring overpowering strobe lighting baffled the eye, and the relaxed banter between the ten of them highlighted the familiarity.
Flickering between touchingly quiet and overwhelmingly loud, country and western influences were overlayed with synthesisers and elctro-pop sounds, mingling with a certain haziness to create a majorly modern-psychedelic sound. My guest’s comment of, “they’re the sort of band where I can imagine everyone doing drugs”, is an incredibly accurate perception; there’s a certain whackiness required to create this sort of music, but a more intensive dedication required to pull it off.
Tracks such as the new album’s opener, Bam Ba Lam (Here Comes Daddy), are performed with the same energy and comfort as songs off their earlier records (such as Power In The Blood), and the close of every song was greeted with a colossal reply from the crowd in cheers.
Moment to moment, the set continually changed. This multi-instrumentalisation and random diversity kept everyone on their toes, and to get a room full of, well, not house’s standard demographic, moving with such passion took more than an act of willpower from Alabama 3; straight up brilliance was required. Take this from a voice in the “younger” generation; if you think Alabama 3 are too old, too out of date, too last decade for you, you couldn’t be more wrong, and nothing like a live show will prove that to you.