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ALABAMA 3 @ THE CAMDEN CRAWL 5/5/2012

S4M SHOUT FOR MUSIC   Rating 9/10
by AlanAshtonSmith on 07 May 2012 in Live

Fusing together country and western with acid house shouldn’t work, but in the hugely capable hands of Alabama 3 it’s the perfect combination. Laying blues harmonica over some massive beats works well enough on record, but Alabama 3 are a highly visual band, so you have to see them live to get the full experience.

There, you appreciate the distinctive talents of the formidable three-strong vocal line-up: urban cowboy Larry Love, mighty-lunged diva Aurora Dawn, and the Rev. D Wayne Love, whose muttered MC-ing ranges from the profound to the profane. Then there’s enigmatic keyboardist The Spirit of Love, wrapped in a fur coat, face hidden by shades and a bowler hat, continually tipping his keyboard up to perilous angles. The rest of the band might be slightly less visually exciting, but the most important thing is the noise they produce.

This evening’s Camden Crawl set is geared towards crowd-pleasing: all of their most crucial tracks are squeezed into an hour and a quarter. They began with the highlight of their latest album, ‘Let’s Go Out 2Nite’, then keep things very much on a roll with the likes of ‘Woody Guthrie’, ‘Hello… I’m Johnny Cash’ and ‘Facebook.con’. In the latter half of the set, the full power of the acid house is released as the enormous ‘Mao-Tse Tung Said’ and euphoric ‘Hypo Full Of Love’ keep the Electric Ballroom moving.

But by the time they wrap up there are still some big tunes that we haven’t heard, so an encore is an inevitable pleasure. Of course, the song everyone wants to hear is ‘Woke Up This Morning’, which is slotted in right at the end. Its sudden conclusion suggests that Alabama 3 have played right up to the curfew and had the plug pulled. Here’s a band intent on squeezing every moment of entertainment they can into their allotted time: perfect festival fare.