There's nothing like a hometown crowd, and nobody embraces that more than Albert Hammond Jr. Following the release of his third solo album Momentary Masters earlier this year, The Strokes' guitarist is touring the United States and on Monday night (Sept. 21), he played the first of two big shows at New York City's Bowery Ballroom. And he brought the melody.
Walking Shapes kicked the night off with a rousing 30-minute set that gelled well with what Hammond was to bring later on. At one point, the band mentioned that its latest album Taka Come On shared producers with Hammond, and the influences were clear with crunchy guitars, indie-friendly vocals and melodies so catchy and tight that, yeah, they wouldn't have happened without The Strokes.
After a 45 minute pause between sets, Hammond walked on to stage looking like a low budget '70s superhero -- which sounds rude, but the look really worked for him. Wearing a tight red jumpsuit (which one concertgoer later said he pulled off like a hot side of Alabama beef) and a white guitar with a lightning bolt strap slung on his back, Hammond fell easily in to the role of frontman in his hometown. Throughout the night, big smiles came from his face and he frequently looked to the balcony, where some old friends had clearly taken up camp for the show.
Hammond's set was, understandably, heavy on his new album Momentary Masters, which dropped at the end of July. First, though, ever-conscious of overplaying new material, Hammond kicked off the show with two AHJ cuts ("Strange Tidings," "Cooker Ship") and blasted off fan favorite "101."
And while old cuts such as "GfC" and "In Transit" got the warmest welcome from the sold-out crowd, who shouted along to every word, new album cuts such as "Caught By My Shadow," "Losing Touch" and "Born Slippy" shined in the live setting thanks to their insatiable hooks and peppy melodies. It was hard not to dance as the punchy guitars kicked their way through the crowded New York venue.
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The sound was impressive, and most of that was because of Hammond himself. On record, his voice soars to incredible heights - in "GfC" alone he yells like a mad man - but that somehow sounded even better live. Hammond may be best known for jamming to those crunchy Strokes hooks, but he's a true singer at heart.
The musicianship, however, was also on point which couldn't have been made clearer than through the penultimate track, "Spooky Couch." As Hammond turned his back to the audience and a disco ball rotated above the stage, the light and airy notes floated around Bowery Ballroom.
And, after an encore which included "Drunched in Crumbs" and "Rocket," the feeling floated into the streets of Manhattan, even if the notes had ceased.