Academy 2, Manchester on Friday 20 November 2009

It's difficult, probably impossible, to categorise Alabama 3. Start with a great big mixing pot and throw in a bit of Ian Dury and the Blockheads. Add some Primal Scream, some Happy Mondays and a sprinkling of Fun Lovin' Criminals and you might be going in the right direction. Next you'll be needing a little Bob Dylan, some Woody Guthrie, definitely a little Johnny Cash and more than a slice of Elvis. Mix it all together and you're probably still nowhere near. Oh and for the live show, you're going to need some bass. Lots of it. In fact, you're going to need as much bass as you can lay your hands on - and that probably still wont be enough. Alabama 3 do genre defying dance music better than any other band.

The band, who have built a huge reputation with many, many appearances across the festival circuit, are probably best known for providing the theme tune to hit TV series The Sopranos, 'Woke Up This Morning'. Amongst this audience, they are probably best known for their ability to put on a party. It's not a complicated recipe. Take some great tunes, chuck in some thumping bass and play them with a huge sense of fun. That is, pretty much, an Alabama 3 show.

The sell-out crowd is expectant as the DJ builds the atmosphere with some well chosen beats. It's Friday night and they want to be entertained. Alcohol consumption is conspicuous and the band have an instant rapport from the moment they take the stage. 'Hypo Full Of Love' turns the venue into a mini line dance as the crowd shout out the steps and dance and slide along with the band. It's difficult to say whether the between song banter is difficult to understand because of poor sound quality or general singer incoherence, but it doesn't distract too much from the party. The band work through all their best known tracks.

'Woke Up This Morning' brings about the expected singalong whilst 'Mao Tse Tung Says' finds the standard raised left fists from the audience. After singing about loving music and hating racism and against the Afghanistan war, the band close the set with 'Too Sick To Pray' and their refusal to say goodbye with 'Hello, I'm Johnny Cash'.

It is difficult to pigeon hole Alabama 3. Perhaps, and certainly on the strength of tonight's show, we need a new category 'tremendously good fun'.

article by: Phil Adcroft    egigs.co.uk