Albert Hammond Jr.

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

If I could remark on only one thing regarding The Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr.’s solo performance with his band at the Troubadour on Wednesday night, it would be on the sense of liberation that emanated from the stage at just about any moment during the 40-plus minute set. Perhaps it had something to do with this being the first headlining performance in three nights here in Los Angeles (he and his band opened the two previous nights for Incubus at the Wiltern) or maybe it had something to do with the fact that this was his sold-out night at the Troubadour in support of his upcoming release Yours To Keep. Regardless, love was in the air and smiles were teeming on the faces of the sweethearts that made this their destination of choice for their Valentines Date. Even the poor bastards without a date were having a time at it.

The band opened the set with a few electric numbers including “Holiday” and “Everyone Gets A Star” from Yours To Keep, with the former having a Bowie-esque guitar flourish at the end that brings about a smile every time I hear it. This set the tone for the rest of the evening as they moved into the acoustic portion of the set that started with “Bright Young Thing” and then into a cover of Frank Black’s “Old Black Dawning.” With “Call An Ambulance” and “Blue Skies” to round out the acoustic portion, they took it back up and closed out the show with “In Transit” and “Scared.”

With a few minutes off stage, the band returned for their encore with “Back To The 101,” “Postal Blowfish” (Guided By Voices cover) and “Hard To Live (In The City).” Although the latter was played without a horn section per se, the last movement of “HTLITC” on record should remind us that no matter how difficult things get, in the end there is always time to dance and enjoy the simple things life has to offer. For in the end, it was most refreshing to see Albert make such a convincing statement, taking front and center without much pomp and more a sense of understated grace that put the kill on any trepidation I may have had going into the show.

With several dates left on the current tour I’d recommend picking up the new CD (out March 6th) and getting out to see what Albert Hammond, Jr. is up to. Who knows what surprise you’ll be in for.

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