Alabama Shakes, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2012
For all the attention Alabama Shakes' music has attracted in 2012 — and its album Boys & Girls marked a huge breakthrough earlier this year — the live stage is where the soulful blues-rock band transcends mere "one to watch" status. Boys & Girls is the work of polished professionals at the top of their game, but in concert, Alabama Shakes' music reaches ecstatic, sprawling, rafter-shaking heights. Singer Brittany Howard has the bearing, power and charisma of a star twice her age, but on stage, she's positively dominant. She belts, sure, but she doesn't just belt.
It helps that Howard is backed, both on record and in concert, by the airtight proficiency of ace backing players. For a group that wouldn't sound out of place among epic-minded jam bands, it's telling that Alabama Shakes' new record rarely lets its songs stretch beyond the four-minute mark: These folks don't waste a second, and the resulting sound feels both loose and impossibly tight. Here, the band performs at the 2012 Newport Folk Festival, recorded live on Saturday, July 28 in Newport, R.I.
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