Metro Detroit’s Royal Oak Music Theatre is full to the rafters for this sold out Alabama Shakes show. High octane energy is in the air. There is a feeling that perhaps this could be something special.

The opener is the band Houndmouth from Indiana, singing songs about Frisco and Arkansas and the world crashing down. There are also songs about Houston and the road, as a new kind of folk rock emerges. Houndmouth is a four piece with alternating lead singers.

The sound is rich resonant rock with a tinge of country honk - American roots rock and roll. The lyric of “I see the light shining on me/I’m coming home for the winter” is sung with cleansing power. Houndmouth constitute a fine new discovery.

Next up on the bill is Jonny Fritz from Nashville, Tennessee, playing acoustic guitar and singing a dose of country. The music is rollicking and good natured, played by a four piece band. The highlight is the fine wailing fiddle player. This is music that is down home and easy.

The crowd is buzzing in anticipation of Alabama Shakes who play a blend of roots rock and rhythm and blues-tinged soul. Brittany Howard is the brilliant, powerful lead singer and guitarist - the main attraction and a force to be reckoned with. They are playing tunes from their excellent debut album 'Boys & Girls'.

'Rise to the Sun' is magnetic from the opening notes. Brittany Howard’s vocal packs a powerhouse punch, with the band well in synch. This is simultaneously rock and pure soul - a potent concoction.

'Hang Loose' sounds like the record, but so much better live. “Roll with the tide,” sings Brittany. “I’m going to take care of you.”

Alabama Shakes surges into 'Hold On', their signature single. The lyrics are delivered with clarity: “Bless my heart, bless my soul/There must be someone up above/I don’t want to wait.”

The band is bathed in dusty orange stage lights and is playing so well, including Stax label style keyboards and rhythmic drums.

'I Found You' is a revelation, an oracle born with this band from the American South. The dramatic 'Heartbreaker' is crystal clear, finding the band hitting the note with great guitars and bass line.

'Boys & Girls'is sweet and introspective, tugging on the heart strings. Brittany belts out the “be my baby” lyrics on 'Be Mine' with a performance that is over the top.” 'I Ain’t the Same' is heartfelt and explosive.

Next is a gorgeous, shimmering 'On Your Way' as Brittany sings about the promised land from the closer for the debut album. This is a journey tune evoking a possible ascent after life, and as richly melodic a song as Alabama Shakes has.

'You Ain’t Alone' is a full on rock assault and the final tune of the set. The encore features some newer material as the band takes it home with sweet soulful sounds - a memorable night as Alabama Shakes leaves their mark.












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