Live From The Artists Den just entered its 9th season last week when the Zac Brown Band aired on national TV. This week, the Alabama Shakes will be rocking and rolling in your living room on a PBS station in your area. Most homes will be able to tune in on Friday night, February 6th, but be sure to check your local listings for the specific PBS station and air time. Their official site lists a few of the affiliates in various cities that will be airing the episode.
The band was filmed in Nashville last year at the Loveless Cafe. Around four interviews, the hour long episode follows the band performing songs from their debut album and calling upon a few that they’ve been working on for the sophomore album, which is due later in 2015.
While their breakout hit, “Hold On,” was played that night per a set list that showed up on the official Artists Den page for the band, it didn’t end up making the cut for the episode (along with a handful of other performances). However, with the energy spewed across the rest of their set, you’ll hardly miss it. The Alabama-based band imbue southern rock and blues into a firestorm of a concert.
Starting with “Hang Loose,” we hear hints of organ over some pounding piano with Brittany Howard yowling ferociously. Howard jumps from preacher mode to conversationalist and singer all throughout the night’s performance and never sounds out of place in any mode. While she can cook up a firestorm, she can also beautifully emote on a track like “Boys And Girls,” which slowly paces. Her voice sometimes quivers and other times snickers while sounding fully sincere in either territory.
The band gets labeled as blues-rock, and that can be true of some their work, but they even venture into a near gospel-punk zone on “The Greatest.” Steve Johnson’s kit anchors the track while Heath Fogg puts down some sizzling guitar work. Zac Cockrell’s bass on “Gimme All Your Love” ventures into James Jamerson territory near the end. Howard often gets the lion’s share of press, but each band member adds a lot to the presence of sound on each track performed.
If you’re going to be out on the town Friday night, be sure to set your DVR to record this performance. It’s the first glimpse a national audience will get to see of tracks like “Joe,” “Miss You,” and the aforementioned “Gimme All Your Love” that are vying for a slot on their second album. Their studio work is wholly enjoyable, but it’s on the live stage where the band erupts into something greater. The Artists Den provides a wonderful opportunity for those who haven’t had the pleasure of attending the band’s live show to see that.