3 Rock City, Nottingham (03/10/2005)
nice to go to a gig from time to time and look around, feel young. It
doesnt happen that much for me these days, but tonight I think its
going to be one of those nights. Most of the people here are definitely
older than my 33 years. Its Nottinghams Rock City on a Monday
night and everyone is waiting for the Alabama 3 to hit the stage.
First we have to go through some sort of gruesome initiation ritual. Theyre
called The Council, theyre quite noisy, and you cant
hear the words. Theyre so earnest and misguided about their ability,
it reminds me of the time I was in a band that everybody else knew was
never going to make it. Maybe I am getting old after all.
After a sufficient amount of pain and a brief reprise an utterly lovely
tonic takes to the stage. Shes (fabulously) called Devlin Heart
and shes obviously sold her soul to the devil because she has the
voice of an angel. Shes such a sight for sore eyes that my heart
sinks a little when she leaves the stage. Even though I know it means
the A3 will be on soon I think I could watch her sing her songs for a
little while longer.
After some vaguely irritating bird noises, its the familiar sound
of sweet pretty country-acid-house music and seven men take to the stage
calling themselves the Alabama 3. They know exactly what the people
here want and they deliver it pretty much perfectly. The set is a mixture
of old and new and wait for it theres Devlin again, darting
on and off the stage, dancing with aplomb, hitting all the right notes
in the songs and in the audience.
Its a set heavy with tunes from Exile on Coldharbour Lane,
which may be what a lot of people here want. Highlights include the anthemic
U Dont Dance to Tekno, the now infamous Woke Up
this Morning and Speed of the Sound of Loneliness which
starts as if its going to go nowhere and ends leaving you feeling
as if youve gone round the block a few times. Its that post-exertion
adrenaline rush just kicking in. Truth is though the new songs are
the ones that come out best of all. They sound fresh and smoother than
they sound on the album. When D.Wayne tells you to keep your shades on
youre left wishing youd brought them with you on this autumn
evening. How Can I Protect You gets everyone trying to out
do Devlin with the fancy moves (though of course no-one can). Have
you Seen Bruce Reynolds is my only gripe. I know the mans
lad is in the band and I know that he went on to show great loyalty to
his gang, but his life is not one for celebrating so joyfully. Hes
no Robin Hood. He masterminded a violent and selfish crime in which only
a handful benefited. Wheres the song to train driver Jack Mills
who was struck violently on the head with an iron bar that could have
Anyway, back at the gig and the Alabama 3 have thankfully moved on to
Up Above My Head and the crowd loves it. The A3 seem duty
bound to ensure that everyone enjoys themselves and deliver their duty
with pleasure. As they leave the stage D.Wayne tells us that hell
get his hair fixed and be back another day which made me laugh.
But they come back for an encore and thank God. We couldnt have
left without Hello, Im Johnny Cash which is a fine tribute
to an even finer man. With at least nine people making the Alabama 3 that
night theyre final song is Mao Tse Tung Said. It seems
to last forever, which is good because nobody wants the night to end.
Finally the Alabama 3 leave the stage, some of them actually stagger off,
and I think just about everyone leaves Rock City feeling that little bit
younger than they did before they arrived.