Last Monday, November 4th, The Strokes guitarist, Albert Hammond Jr., played to a sold out show at Webster Hall in New York City. As a huge fan of The Strokes, and Hammond Jr. as a solo artist, there was no chance I was going to miss the performance. Tickets were only $22, since he was playing at the Marlin Room (one of the smaller side stages at Webster Hall with a capacity of just 500), and his latest EP, AHJ, was released less than a month ago. The intimate setting proved ideal for the talented guitarist.
Concert Review: Albert Hammond Jr. at Webster Hall
After entering through a side door and initially bypassing the bustling bar, the Marlin Room revealed its intimate persona (if you’re super interested, check out the exact specifications). Fellow concertgoers casually drank micro-brew IPA while discussing potential opening songs, distancing themselves from the standard mosh pit crowd up front. Then, at about ten minutes past 9:00, Hammond Jr. inconspicuously strolled onto the stage with his classic white Fender Stratocaster in hand.
After a brief, yet genuine greeting to the crowd, the show began. You’d think that AHJ would kick things off with a bang, perhaps playing something from the new EP, right? Wrong. I was delightfully taken aback to hear to staccato-plucked guitar of “Everyone Gets a Star,” a song from Hammond Jr.’s very first solo album, Yours To Keep.
The remaining hour and a half proved to be a perfectly balanced mix of material, both old and new, including songs a couple more songs from Yours To Keep, a handful from his 2008 LP Como Te Llama?, and, of course, all five tracks from his newest EP, AHJ, which were nicely distributed throughout the set.
Apart from the new EP, the most notable performances were rewarded to those who stayed through the entire show (a fair amount of the audience actually left after “St. Justice,” the twelfth song in the set). Hammond Jr.. revealed his punk-rock roots with two great covers: Guided by Voices’ “Postal Blowfish,” which actually appears on Yours To Keep as a bonus track, and The Misfits’ “Last Caress.” What a gem.
Upon leaving the NYC landmark at around 11:00 PM, I thought to myself, “That was a great show, I just wish I could have heard Albert’s voice a little better.” Therein lies the show’s most noticeable flaw: vocal levels. At times—especially on tracks like “Cooker Ship” where Hammond Jr. really pushes his range—it was difficult to make out the lyrics. Thankfully, I knew most of them, so it wasn’t a huge problem for me. For the casual attendee, however, his sometimes drowned-out vocal delivery might be bothersome.
Minus the vocal level issue, the experience was superb. The intimate venue lent itself perfectly to Hammond Jr.’s intricate melodies, while also dismantling the “us and them” sentiment that concerts tend to induce. There was no “them.” Only us. It was inspiring to see AHJ’s sober comeback to the music scene after his long-time drug problem and subsequent years in rehab. If he’s playing a show in your area, I highly recommend that you dedicate an evening to checking it out.
Don’t miss Albert Hammond Jr. again and get your tickets now! Read more of our live show thoughts here.
Article by Josh Cranin