It is difficult to put a finger on where and how to place Alabama 3. They self-describe themselves as making “country acid house music”, but for me they are a cultural mix of techno, funk and acid jazz which they lace with a country punk vibe.

Their influences are taken directly from Dylan, Cash, Elvis and Woody Guthrie, but added to this is an eclectic mix of the Happy Mondays, Ian Dury, the Stranglers and a hint of Fun Lovin’ Criminals, driven on a back bed of the Clash.

Manchester Academy 2 was sold out. In came the night’s expectant crowd, as diverse and quirky as Alabama 3 themselves, and in all shapes and all sizes, some wearing cowboy hats and glittery shirts, others in classic rock T-Shirts. They kept on coming, and it was clear they had come to party the Alabama 3 way.

Straight from the opening chords of ‘Black Betty’, the band had the audience in the palm of their hands. ‘Bad to the Bone’ and ‘Flag’ quickly built the atmosphere and helped to set the pace for the night.

Working through the set, a connection was firmly established between the band and their ever so willing audience. ‘Hypo Full of Love’ was the cue for a mass line dancing session to begin, and, as would be expected, ‘Woke Up This Morning’ enjoyed a virulent sing-a-long, while fists were aloft for ‘Mao Tse Tung Says’.

All too quickly the last song of the evening, 'Too Sick', brought the house down and the end to what had been a great party atmosphere.

On the strength of this performance, maybe trying to pigeonhole Alabama 3 is not that straight forward. There were no choreographed moves, no contrived interludes, with each and every member bringing their own professional stamp to the stage. Each had a role, and all delivered. Yes, there is an eclectic mix of influences, but are there any bands out there that doesn’t play and use their influences?

Alabama 3 clearly have a niche. They are innovative and thought-provoking, and have a belief and confidence in themselves while putting their own twist on what watching bands should be.

Photos by Billy Seagrave

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