By Chace Black
Photos by Daniel Coston
April 24, 2016
On a dreary Spring evening in Charlotte, NC, the rain let up just in time for one of music’s brightest stars to shine. Brittany Howard and her band, Alabama Shakes, played a flawless show for a packed crowd at the Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheater.
Charlotte’s own Temperance League opened up for the Alabama Shakes after the original opener Dylan LeBlanc canceled, adding to a great night for the Charlotte music scene, which has taken a bit of a hit from other artists canceling performances due to the controversial House Bill 2. Brittany Howard earlier in the week made comments on HB 2 to John Norris on his “Official Sasquatch! Festival Podcast” explaining why Alabama Shakes chose to play in NC.
“We are going to play the show. We couldn’t just say ‘No, we’re not showing up and I’m sorry your government is behaving this way.’ That’s not the right thing to do,” said Howard.
During Friday night’s performance, Brittany Howard indirectly commented on HB 2, encouraging everyone to love each other. But that was all that was said about the controversy, and rightly so as the focus was solely on Howard and her incredible musical talent.
Alabama Shakes took the stage and immediately went into their first song of the night, “Dunes.” The crisp Spring air made for great acoustics and the band sounded exactly like their records. Howard introduced her core bandmates Zac Cockrell, Steve Johnson, and Heath Fogg, along with her backup singers. All who deserve all the recognition in the world, for providing the instrumentation and music for 2015’s Sound and Color, which debuted at number 1 to critical acclaim.
Make no mistake however, Howard was the main attraction and all eyes were on her. She took center stage for most of the night, controlling the entire crowd who was hanging on to every note of her soulful voice. Known for her tremendous vocals, it was surreal to see how effortless it was for her. The Charlotte crowd knew they were watching a legend in the making on Friday night.
The Grammy Award winners played one of their biggest hits to date, “Don’t Wanna Fight” a bluesy and soulful song. At this point the crowd was really engaged and Howard stopped the show to search for a couple in the audience. Once the spotlight finally scanned through the crowd and found who Howard was looking for, a man was already on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend. The crowd erupted and the Alabama Shakes immediately ripped into the soulful “Gimme All Your Love,” which was the highlight of the night.
Howard exited the stage followed closely by her band to a standing ovation. But they did not keep the crowd waiting long, they quickly came back out to play their title single “Sound and Color.”
With only two studio albums to their name, Alabama Shakes have already become one of the most beloved bands in the country. As they embark on their national tour, they will captivate audiences on every stop. It will be interesting to see just how far Howard and her band can go.