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Monday 5 December 2016

Alabama Shakes at Olympia Theatre review: shaken not stirred rock n' roll n' soul

Published 04/11/2015 | 10:09

INDIO, CA - APRIL 10: Musician Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes performs onstage during day 1 of the 2015 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival (Weekend 1) at the Empire Polo Club on April 10, 2015 in Indio, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Coachella)
INDIO, CA - APRIL 10: Musician Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes performs onstage during day 1 of the 2015 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival (Weekend 1) at the Empire Polo Club on April 10, 2015 in Indio, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Coachella)

If you're looking for a thrilling rock n’ roll front woman who oozes soul, then look no further than Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes.

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Up until a few short years ago, Howard was working for the United States Postal Service in her home town of Athens, Alabama, while singing in a covers band playing in nursing homes. That all changed with the release of Boys & Girls in 2012, which saw Alabama Shakes tour the world and get nominated for a few Grammys.

Bizarrely, this is the first Dublin headliner they've done since an inauspicious debut in the tiny Academy 2, atlhough they did appear on a Marlay Park bill on a rather musically schizophrenic line up alongside Paulo Nutini over the summer. It is a considerable leap to playing a two-night stand in the Olympia, but for Howard and Alabama Shakes, the only way is up.

Brittany was recently honoured with Billboard’s prestigious ‘Powerhouse’ award. Previous recipients include Lady Gaga. Slowly but surely, the world is completely falling for Brittany Howard. She certainly possesses a powerhouse set of pipes. 

Within seconds of being on-stage, this is immediately apparent as she sings ‘Future People’. Howard has one of the best voices in modern rock; a husky, singular and soulful quiver that has an astonishing range and packs a colossal punch. The set list is chiefly culled from this year’s second album Sound & Color, which is that rare beast in contemporary music; a follow up to a wildly successful debut that betters its predecessor. The dreaded curse of the so-called ‘sophomore slump’ clearly has passed them by.

Alabama Shakes rustle up a wholesome and delicious stew of blues, country, gospel, soul and good old fashioned rock n’ roll. Britney Spears may well be the better known singer and celebrity, but this Brittany's talents are far too powerful and breathtaking to stay ignored.

Alabama Shakes are an even better band live than they are on record. So far, it is looking like they're really in this for the long haul.

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