Review: Alabama Shakes bring sound & colour to O2 Academy Brixton

Alabama Shakes finished off the European leg of their tour with two sold out shows at O2 Academy Brixton on 18 and 19 November. And what a tour finish it was. We got right into the action and are still swooning over the Southern soul that shook the London venue.

The show kicked off with an almost heroine-like entrance by lead singer and guitarist Brittany Howard as she picks up her blue guitar and instantly owns the room from that first defiant scream into the mic.

Brittany channels her inner rock chick as she sings us her tales of heartbreak and love. The sound is wonderfully Southern, with soul-infused rock and a voice that travels for miles. It’s a voice so clear and flawless, and yet so full of stories, life and empowerment. Howard’s influences range from Prince to Jimi Hendrix to Elvis, and they all ring through. And they do so even more intensely when she puts down the guitar for Joe. The room falls silent in awe.

Alabama Shakes - Don't Wanna Fight (Official Audio)

Picking the beats right back up with Always Alright, featured on the soundtrack for the 2012 Silver Linings Playbook starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, the crowd gets back into its groove with a general booty-shaking mentality emerging. The band rock through their hits like Sound & Color, Don’t Wanna Fight and treat us with an encore of Gimme All Your Love, Over My Head and, finally, You Ain’t Alone.

Alabama Shakes are just one of those bands, that even if you’ve never heard any of their music before seeing them live, it still feels like you know each and every single one of the tunes. It’s soul-food in the form of live music.

It’s no real surprise that this five-piece rock band from the small town of Athens, Alabama smashed the charts with their second album, Sound & Color, this spring. Brittany, Heath, Zac, Ben and Steve are now on their way back to the much warmer home state of Alabama. But they will return for next year’s British Summertime in Hyde Park to play alongside none other than Mumford and Sons and Wolf Alice.