Monday, August 17, 2015

Alabama Shakes at Red Rocks Amphitheatre – A Concert Review

Contributed by : Lenny H.

     On the whole, Alabama Shakes put on a good concert last night at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado.  The crowd seemed very happy with the performance, and I overheard a few “that was awesome” and “amazing performance” comments on my way out.  However, I think there was an opportunity for a second encore, where they probably would have played “Hold On,” (the setlist is at the bottom of this post), but the crowd dispersed pretty quickly after the first encore (which was great).  When I saw them play last year, the Shakes played songs from their first album “Boys & Girls” pretty much as they sounded in the studio.  This time, the songs were subtly much better – they now have several back-up singers and the songs in general were more refined. 
     In a few places Brittany stretched the songs out a bit.  “You Ain’t Alone,” the second song in the encore, was transformed into a soaring ballad bordering on a religious spiritual.  “Be Mine,” another standout from the first album, was sung with more passion and sincerity then I thought possible even after listening to the studio recording many times and live last year.  Able to summon such emotion on stage before thousands of fans with power that just grabs you and makes you feel her pain and longing deep in your soul is a true gift; Brittany Howard is a rare performer who I think could jump from bandstand to film studio and back. 
     Alabama Shakes started out playing music they themselves liked and were genuinely surprised at the response they received by the public.  I believe they continued down that road, working their new album “Sound & Light” to challenge themselves, become better musicians, experiment, and create songs they themselves appreciate rather than what they might think their audience wants.  As a result, “Sound & Color” is not as accessible as “Boys & Girls.”  While the new album seemed to me experimental, fragmented, and incomplete, in concert the same songs somehow felt more refined, cohesive, and solid. 
     The crowd clearly favored songs from the earlier album and I did as well, but there was one stand-out on the second album, which was “Don’t Wanna Fight.”  Even though I do not love the new album, I am grateful to have seen this performance:  Hearing them play one or two of the better tracks from the first album like “Hang Loose,” “Be Mine,” and “You Ain’t Alone” would by themselves be worth the price of admission--everything else was gravy.

     “Don’t Wanna Fight”

     Below is a video that was uploaded by another attendee of the concert (thank you Chad W.).

The setlist at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on August 16, 2015
1. "Future People"
2. "Always Alright"
3. "Dunes"
4. "Hang Loose"
5. "Rise to the Sun"
6. "Guess Who"
7. "Heartbreaker"
8. "Joe"
9. "Miss You"
10. "Shoegaze"
11. "The Greatest"
12. "Gimme All Your Love"
13. "This Feeling"
14. "On Your Way"
15. "Be Mine"
16. "Don't Wanna Fight"
17. "Gemini"
1. "Sound & Color"
2. "You Ain't Alone"
3. "Over My Head"

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