Alabama Shakes at Islington Assembly Hall, gig review: Sweaty, walloping blues

Brittany Howard has an ability to project real pain into her voice

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The Independent Culture

Rising from whispers on the internet to a run around both sides of the Atlantic, Alabama Shakes are a compelling act to see live.

At their first UK show in two years, frontwoman Brittany Howard plants her feet firmly on the stage before belting out soulful notes as she rips through a chorus. While not the most skilled guitarist she certainly gives it her all, thrashing it out and sharing the load with guitarist Heath Fogg.

Key to the strength of the band’s performance is Howard’s ability to project what sounds like real pain into her voice. Exhausted gasps at the end of 'Don't Wanna Fight' and her wondering in 'Rise to the Sun': "I feel so homesick/Where is my home" are devastatingly good.

2012's Boys & Girls was a solid debut - not ground-breaking but enough to cause a stir. 'Don’t Wanna Fight' and 'Future People' from upcoming sophomore effort Sound & Color suggests a more confident approach to the music the band want to make, along with a less muddled production.

Continuing to feature sweaty, walloping blues, their new material simultaneously manages to fetishise nostalgia and emit a fresh take on a form certain to attract new fans. It's a promising return for a group that is only just getting started.

You can check out Alabama Shake's new song 'Don't Wanna Fight' on our Spotify playlist