Last night, Alabama Shakes started the Mercedes Benz Evolution Tour with a bang. The southern blues-rock band has only one album under their belt, but you would’ve never guessed it by the knock-out performance they delivered. The band played a mixture of songs from their debut album, Boys & Girls, as well as a whole slew of new songs that haven’t been released. This little preview was more than enough to get fans excited for the band’s upcoming album. As of yet, there is not much information on Alabama Shakes’ highly anticipated second album, but if it is anything like what they played at Terminal 5 last night, then it’s going to be one hell of a record.
Besides Alabama Shakes, there were performances from Fly Golden Eagle & Majestico as well as a grooving set from Questlove, DJ and drummer from the Roots. Mr. Brainwash, a renowned Parisian street-artist, painted a brand new Mercedes Benz during the set and even joined Questlove for a moment on stage. Questlove definitely got the audience hyped and ready for the headliner, playing a set incorporating everything from pop hits like Pharell’s “Happy” to beloved oldies such as Thurston Harris' “Little Bitty Pretty One” and Ray Charles' “I Got a Woman.” Just a day after standing up for Iggy Azalea in Time Magazine, he played the Australian rapper's "Fancy."
With the energy still surging in the audience’s veins from Questlove’s set, the crowd went wild when Alabama Shakes walked onto the stage. The crowd at Terminal 5 was definitely a mixture of fans and people not so familiar with the band, but it didn’t matter. Brittany Howard’s performance was filled to the brim with passion and raw emotion, the pain behind her lyrics visible in her face as she cried the chorus of “Rise to the Sun” to open the show. It is hard not to be won over by the raw talent this band possesses, but is nearly impossible not to fall under Howard’s spell.
With the lead woman’s strong presence on stage, you may forget to check out the band behind her, but they are what propel Howard’s bluesy ballads forward. The band may not connect with the audience in the same vein as its front woman, but the grooving base lines and solid beat of the drums is what keeps your feet tapping throughout the show. Howard’s powerful vocals may be the star of the show, but it would be hard to find a more solid group of musicians to back her.
The Alabama Shakes left the audience more than satisfied with their encore, “Gimme All Your Love,” a new song from the band’s unreleased record. Alabama Shakes is a band bursting with talent and I daresay is probably one of the best bands of our generation. If you haven’t seen them live, be sure to catch them next time they come around.
Alabama Shakes' performance at Terminal 5 was only the beginning of the Mercedes Benz Evolution Tour, upcoming shows featuring artists such as Young the Giant and Mayer Hawthorne. If you are nearby one of the tour's next stops, make sure not to miss a great night of free music courtesy of Mercedes Benz. Learn more about the Mercedes Benz Evolution tour at the tour's official website.
For Alabama Shakes' latest music, news, and tour dates, check out their Zumic artist page.