I hope it's not too much of a back-handed compliment to say that Albert Hammond Jr. surprised the hell out of me. I've been a pretty passive Strokes fan, having listened to their albums but never liking quite enough songs to add them to my collection, and never having gone out of my way to see them live. And while I wasn't overly anxious to hear what their guitarist would sound like on his own, I was at least curious to check out his first solo album, "Yours To Keep", when it came out in the UK last year. I didn't get a taste until I came across the first singles ("101 and "Everyone Gets A Star") on satellite radio, and was struck enough by them to look forward to his opening set for Bloc Party when they came through town in late March.
And I really, really liked it. It's fairly unavoidable to make comparisons to his other band, but I found the songs more instantly catchy, more dynamic, and was struck by how solid a singer Hammond Jr. is, especially considering his guitar-only role in the Strokes. He's also put together one seriously talented backing band, who added an energy to the material that already sounds pretty rockin' on the disc (which I picked up after it's domestic release in March). Bonus points for the Frank Black and Guided By Voices covers, as well as sharing a new song called "In My Room".
Here are the Mp3s of the set, during which you might here a commotion as some fool tries to storm the stage... and gets his ass handed to him by the 'event staff' before he even comes close. Ejection accomplished. Considering the ticket price for a Bloc Party show nowadays, I can't imagine that was money well-spent...
Video: There are two different clips for "101", with one that's mostly studio footage from the recording of the album, and another directed by Patrick Daughters that follows AHJ's sad, suited ghost. As usual, many more live clips can be found with a YouTube search.
Event site Hey Let's Go has re-christened itself as Going.com, and they're putting on some free concerts to mark the new branding. One of them is with Albert and his band, and takes place tomorrow, Thursday, May 10th, at the Hiro Ballroom in NYC. To RSVP for the free show, head here. You may have to sign up for the site first to view that page.
Albert Hammond Jr. will return to the road for a month-long headlining tour that starts May 20th in San Francisco, and winds up in NYC on June 18th. Boston's own The Dead Trees will offer their support for the entire tour, but unfortunately the closest they're coming to our area is a Northampton show on June 13th. There are some open dates near the end of the trip, so perhaps a Boston stop will show up at some point.
the post-script... If anyone has an issue with these Mp3s being made available, just say let me know (contact info in the 'nac faq). Recorded with a Sony ECM-719 mic and a Sony MZ-RH10 minidisc, converted to .wav and then edited to 192kbps mp3s. Mp3s are made available for a limited time, and are not reposted once removed.