As I walked into the Astoria, I was hit by some truly sweet muthafuckin country acid house music. No matter that I didn´t know the actual song, I was hooked…
On paper it didn´t look like this was gonna be my best concert ever. I was there on my lonesome; familiar with just the first of the band´s six albums; and my only buzz was from lack of sleep. But bear in mind my previous concert excursions have generally involved two or more of the following:
a) American rappers;
b) the Belleville Velodrome;
c) the company of drunken adolescents;
d) a parking problem;
with only the lure of freebies to sweeten the experience (thanks Moral Squeeze!).
On this occasion I had spent my own money to see a band of my choice, and at a decent venue, nogal. If Irvine Welsh could dance to the boys from Brixton without chemical assistance then so could I. I promptly befriended some middle-aged men wearing cowboy hats; they hoisted me up onto a conveniently placed ledge; and I partied the night away from the best view in the house, at least until the belligerent security guy flashed his torch in my eyes and told me to get down.
I knew a few of the old favourites (“Woke up this Morning“; “Ain´t going to Goa”); and discovered some “new” ones (“Too sick to pray“; “Hello… I´m Johnny Cash”). The evening ended with a triple encore: the sublime “Holy Blood”, “The Speed of the Sound of Loneliness”, and “Sweet Joy”, which gives “If you were the only girl in the world” a 21st-century makeover.
And then the show was over, bar the after party. As I drifted out the theatre to the strains of “Sweet Home Alabama“, I contemplated whether to continue my night in Brixton. I wanted to, I really did. But I was by myself, had no idea as to the exact location of the venue, and was about to collapse due to lack of sleep, so I wimped out and caught the next train to Bedfordshire.
I haven´t really told you about the music yet, have I? I tend to agree with whoever it was that said “writing about music is like dancing about architecture”, if only because I am a) lazy, b) intimidated by my lack of musical knowledge, and c) all too aware that my measly words won´t measure up.
But what I love about Alabama 3 – apart from their gravelly vocals, their irony-laden personsonae, their intertextual lyrics, and the fact that they have all the right politics – is the way their songs seamlessly provide a musical education. Their mishmash of country, blues, and gospel over techno beats has got me hunting down influences, references and sequencers all over the Interweb. Oh, and my CD collection is sounding rather different than it did a year ago. Long live Presleytarianism!