Alabama Shakes amaze the Mann Center with rock and soul - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
Alabama Shakes | Photo by John Vettese

“GODDAMN!” was the word a man behind me exclaimed throughout last night’s Drive-By Truckers and Alabama Shakes show at the Mann Center. I would concur with his sentiment, as both bands amazed with all-out rock and soul sets.

Kicking off the night, Drive-By Truckers ebbed and flowed with scorchers like “Let There Be Rock,” and political songs such as the new “What It Means.”

It was a co-headlining show, with the Truckers stretching out to 75 minutes, but the true stars of the show were Alabama Shakes, whose performance evoked soul, rock, and gospel with fluidity. Brittany Howard’s voice was captivating and passionate and the band was taut. They nimbly moved from their older Muscle Shoals-inspired songs to their recent and more expansive material. “Heartbreaker,” became an emotional confessional, “Rise to the Sun,” a rollicking skank. The live band includes three backup singers who complemented the vibe of each song well, particularly on the finale “Over My Head,” bringing out its inner D’Angelo-ness.

The Shakes’ songs are mostly bitter-sweet and sometimes downright sad.  However, the joy the band have playing these songs for their fans is apparent.  It’s catharsis and a sharing of innermost feelings for Brittany Howard, and the crowd hung on her every word and on the band’s every note. They didn’t even play “the hit” – who cares, goddamn!

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