“This woman is so good, it stopped raining. THAT’S how good she is!” rambled the drunk guy next to me at LC Pavilion in Columbus. While I usually just ignore the drunkies who pervade concerts, this guy had a point. Throughout the day, Columbus, Ohio was drenched in a steady rain that put a damper on many concertgoers’ plans as they tried to sell their tickets on the event page’s timeline on Facebook. As 9:00 p.m. neared, the rain began to let up, and I felt safe not having a plastic bag cover my camera. When the lights dimmed, the audience lost their minds as Alabama Shakes frontwoman Brittany Howard, dressed in a light floral kimono, slowly grooved along to a smooth R&B song across the stage before picking up her aqua Gibson. The usual quartet was beefed up with additional back-up singers and an extra keyboardist who sat in the background as Howard stood center stage.
The soulful frontwoman smiled out into the crowd as she strapped on her guitar and readied herself. The Shakes launched into the robust “Future People” as the first song of the evening. While the bass thumped and shook the LC Pavilion, the crowd lifted their arms into the air and drew their heads back towards the skies as they swayed along. For the next 90 minutes, the band offered up a rich mixture from both 2012’s Boys & Girls and their latest, Sound & Color pulling out influences from the likes of soul greats Otis Redding and Nina Simone.
During “Joe”, Howard took a break from her guitar wielding to take hold of the mic off its stand and perch on the very edge of the stage. Leaning in close to those in the front, the modern soul queen closed her eyes tight and wailed “Joe, what am I to do?”. Howard’s shining moment was during “Gimme All Your Love” in which her vocal range was flawlessly executed as she purred and then roared into the mic while the band added just the right about of verve. Other notable songs included “Sound & Color”, and “Shoegaze”.
The Alabama Shakes ended their set with the reticent “Over My Head” which was complemented by the bands two back-up singers.
Columbus’ own Worn Flints set the stage for the Alabama Shakes, offering up a psychedelic blues set that ended in an extensive jam session while frontman Kenny Stiegele convulsed as he wailed away on his guitar.