Alabama 3 and support at The Ironworks,Inverness, 7/11/14. A review.

Ironworks was the venue for a couple of fine rocking performances on Friday evening (see photos from the evening).

This mix emphasised the dark lyrics and unique voice of Mr Obern.
This mix emphasised the dark lyrics and unique voice of Mr Obern.

Local group Little Mill of Happiness opened for Alabama 3. They delivered a short set – five songs – showcasing the talents of the three guitarists, vocalist Steve Obern, bassist Ali Brown and drummer Craig Aitkenhead.

The rhythm section provided the thunderous foundation around which the guitarists layered up big blocks of sound. This mix emphasised the dark lyrics and unique voice of Mr Obern. The five songs built up an atmosphere which had they not been playing support could have been developed into a much longer set.

The dark lyric theme was continued by Alabama 3. The Brixton based combo are frequent visitors to “this part of London” as vocalist Jake Black’s wry but profound comment set the scene for the evening. These people don’t believe music should be sat and listened to respectfully. A wicked bass beat rocks through most songs and almost demands you get out of your seat and groove along. Also no one seems to have told them that as you get older you taker it easier – they also bop along at a frenetic pace.

Alabama 3-10
no one seems to have told them that as you get older you taker it easier – they also bop along at a frenetic pace

Rather than three people there are nine – three singers, two guitarists, a drummer, a harmonica player, a keyboardist and an electronics wizard. The three vocalists have widely differing styles and these are used to great effect with the vocals of Aurora Dawn soaring above the rougher ones of Rob Spragg and Jake Black. The rest of the group provide a pounding set of beats (and also contribute to the vocal work) interspersed with some bluesy harmonica work from Nick Reynolds.

There are some bizarre incongruities in a whole range of elements of the group which add greatly to their appeal. Jake Black looked like one of the characters that used to hang around a west coast shop we used to go to when we were on holidays in the 1960’s.

There is religion mixed with profanity and gospel mixed with heavy bass. The subject matter of the songs is bleak yet steeped in the reality of the hardness of life. There is also gentleness in the mix for example in: You are the one and Disneyland is burning. After a quick break to “fix the stereo” and to “get shoes shined” the group returned for a rousing encore of three songs.

Look out for the new CD from the Alabamas – the Wimmen from WOMBLE volume 2 – issued on the 4th of November.

Thanks are due to the Ironworks for hosting us, the lights team who provided some fearsome strobing light displays complimenting the beats and also to the sound technicians who produced clear rounded sound to both performances.

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Rob Polson can’t play a note but loves listening to music, especially played live. Likes any sort of music but particularly interested in ambient, early and world music. Being involved with InvernessGigs gives me the opportunity to get out and about and listen to music, try some new beer and also to develop my writing skills.