Alabama 3 - 53 Degrees Preston - 21.4.08

Only Alabama 3 would have the cheek to name their latest album "Hits And Exit Wounds". This is typical for a band who successfully put blues, techno, country, soul, rock and rap into a melting pop of vibrant sounds, a brave direction which marks them out as one of the most original live bands Britain has to offer.

With nine members on the small stage it's an intimate environment with a dazzling array of strobes, so bright at times that the Designer Magazine wished a pair of shades were provided on entry. The unlikely duo of Larry Love (tall, skinny, deep voice and gregarious) and The Very Reverend Dr D Wayne Love (laid back, stout with a transatlantic nasal rap" are the unforgettable genial frontmen. The rather mature crowd many of whom are die hard fans are enraptured throughout their set. "Too Sick To Pray" with it's synthesizer futuristic vibe is a gospel tinged does of melancholic beauty with a percussive edge and lyrical dexterity. As much as Alabama 3 have a party atmosphere on stage there's real depth and sensitivity to their songwriting which is often overlooked. When raven haired firecracker Devlin Love appears, there's a few wolf whistles from her male admirers, but she's no token female. This petite, demure young woman has the looks of Audrey Hepburn who sings like Aretha Franklin. She's not a bad mover either as Devlin adds a touch of glamour to the bands dynamic.

There's an ironic tribute to the man in black in the form of "Hello Im Johnny Cash" and with a band this tight and accomplished it's a joy to just immerse yourself in the world Alabama 3 inhabit. The tempo is slowed down on the beautifully realized "Soldier" which is really poignant and geniously touching. "Rehab" has nothing at all to do with Amy Winehouse and for a song which mentions the twelve steps to sobriety is remarkably upbeat.

For the encore Alabama 3 raise the roof and really excel themselves with the sprightly track "Only Girl" which ends with a jamming session and end comes too quickly despite the band playing well over 90 minutes. They are the type of band who have a devoted and loyal fanbase and after tonight's gig it's obvious there's much more to Alabama 3 than the band who do the Sopranos theme tune

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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