Albert Hammond Jr At It’s A School Night, Monday June 25th 2018
Albert Hammond Jr is a charismatic and very dynamic performer, on Monday night, he treated fans with a free show at the weekly It’s a School Night event at Bardot and I was one of these lucky ones. Let’s start by saying that the energy of the show could not have been higher
For about 35 intense minutes he jumped everywhere and sweat the rock out of his golden suit and red socks, getting very close to the very appreciative crowd for the great joy of the fans. Of course, as the member of one of the most popular rock bands of the ‘00s he knows a bit about this rock ‘n’ roll circus, but his performance sounded fresh and genuine.
Last March, he released his fourth solo album, ‘Francis Trouble’, through Red Bull Records and although I had not listened to the new songs, the very upbeat and catchy music put a smile on my face and I was far from being the only one having a great time. I remember seeing him at the FYF fest in the middle of the afternoon, a few years ago (the Strokes were one of the headliners) but his performance at the time looked tame compared to the jumping party he gave us on Monday… he ran everywhere inside Bardot and it looked like he was decided to turn the room inside out.
If Julian Casablancas has gone through his own personal music journey with experimental exotic explorations, Albert stays much closer to his pop rock roots with catchy choruses and exuberant music. The songs sounded fresh and inventive, but you could recognize here and there — it’s basically impossible to ignore it — a few familiar Strokes-like guitar riffs as well as the frenetic crisp beats of his ex band. Try not to hear the Strokes on ‘Holiday’ or ‘Side Boob’, two older songs he also performed, or the new ‘Far Away Truths’ or ‘Set to Attack’. However, the new songs, like the opener ‘Dvsl’, had a wide-eyed vulnerability mixed with and a true youthful energy. So if Julian’s new adventure has turned you off (I personally love it) and if you are still crying over the Strokes’ lack of current productivity, this new Albert Hammond album will cheer you up, as any Strokes fan would find him/herself in very familiar territory.
On Monday, Albert was really the frontman, he may be the Strokes’ guitarist but he barely touched the guitar, shining as a singer with all eyes on him. For this new album, he enlisted other songwriters like Tyler Parkford of the band Mini Mansions and Jennifer Decilveo (who has written and produced for Machine Gun Kelly, Boyz II Men and others) on three songs, but the result sounds very personal. The title of this new album ‘Francis Trouble’ comes indeed from a very personal story: Albert’s twin brother Francis died during their mother’s miscarriage, six month before Albert was born. When Albert learnt that Francis’ fingernail had been found amongst his own placenta, he felt a real connection and decided to make him the very dynamic hero of this album as a sort of alter ego who has never existed. This birth of another twin could also be seen as a metaphor for a rebirth after his battle with drug addiction a few years ago.
I didn’t know any of this when I attended the show, the bright melodies and the playfulness of the show never let me perceive any darkness looming behind the album, and everyone was way too busy with the sunny music and the fun we had while watching the band. They barely stopped between the songs, and smoothly blasted indie rock as bright as Albert’s suit (‘Screamer’) or more moody tunes like ‘Rocky’s Late Night’, a melancholic and sexy dance floor, with, one more time, a hint of the Strokes.
Charming the entire venue, Hammond was decided to seduce the crowd, by kneeling down in front of a iPhone filming his performance or cruising the crowd in the middle of a song. During one of the craziest tunes, the energy ran higher and he even climbed at the balcony inside the intimate venue, while the entire show continued to be fueled by restless guitars. If the big and playful hooks were there every time, Albert Hammond Jr had a joyful and theatrical energy, he made everyone feel special with a free-spirited abandon, and it never felt forced.
Set to Attack
Harder, Harder, Harder
Far Away Truths
Rocky’s Late Night