Review: Alabama 3, Waterfront, Norwich, a night of blues, booze and rock ’n’ roll

Alabama 3 appeared at the Waterfront, Norwich, as part of their tour marking 20 years of their debut

Alabama 3 appeared at the Waterfront, Norwich, as part of their tour marking 20 years of their debut Exile On Coldharbour Lane. Picture: Submitted - Credit: Archant

The Brixton ensemble arrived on a tour marking 20 years since the release of Exile On Coldharbour Lane and having recently delivered our 13th album, blues.

It's been 20 years since Alabama 3 burst onto the scene blending blues, country, gospel, hip hop and electronica, and Brixton's fake Americana outfit showed no signs of wear and tear at the end of an extensive UK tour.

Larry Love, a grizzly, wasted bluesman, came bounding on stage stomping and wailing like he was straight out of the southern states.

As the band went all techno on early classic Hypo Full Of Love he was joined by The Very Revd Dr D Wayne Love an incongruous jester strutting the stage in a football shirt like a PE teacher and sounding like a Southern Baptist preacher.

Maybe the sound man was only expecting three musicians as the multi-layered output became a struggle to handle with the arrival of third frontman Reverend Be Atwell, a tall, slick rapper and soul singer, bringing the number of performers to nine.

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This extensive line up gave musicians the flexibility to go off script while others held the tune, creating a superficially shambolic sound which remained tight at the core. Everything came together for a sublime rendition of their best known song Woke Up This Morning, a highlight of the main set.

Of the three frontmen, D Wayne was the most committed to his on-stage persona delivering rambling sermons to the crowd on alternative universes and eating gator steaks, never letting his accent slip. His appeals to the crowd for sambuca were answered and by the time he delivered his lines in Ain't Going to Goa during the encore he was happily making it up as he went along. As the house lights went up he remained on stage to banter with the crowd at the end of a heavy night of blues, booze and rock 'n' roll.

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