Brittany Howard Shakes the Palladium down The former Alabama Shakes singer wows at an intimate Citi Sound Vault show.
LOS ANGELES, CA- Every year, eager fans await the biggest week in music- Grammy’s week. It’s always exciting to see your favorite artists get nominated and guess who’s going to be the top dogs at the show. But what’s most fun is the plethora of intimate shows and parties that pop up all over LA the week leading up to the main event. Artists announce last-minute gigs and it’s a chance for die-hard fans to experience acts in a totally different, more personal way.
This year the Citi Sound Vault showcase returned to the legendary Hollywood Palladium and when I heard that Brittany Howard was on the bill for one of the nights, I was ecstatic to catch her show. The soulful singer, who recently took a hiatus from the successful roots/rock band Alabama Shakes to pursue a solo career, released her debut album “Jaime” in September and let me tell you, it’s beyond exceptional. I’ve played it countless times and can’t get enough. It’s an album that dives deep into your soul.
Just a few months ago, Howard played two sold-out nights at The Ace Theatre and sadly, I wasn’t lucky enough to score a ticket. (Bloody hell!) After those shows, I kept hearing how amazing her performances were and how I missed out. Yeah, no shit people- of course, I knew she would be incredible but to hear it over and over, ugh- it was like salt in the wound. So last week, I finally had my chance. And holy hell, people were not exaggerating! Brittany Howard is a damn force to be reckoned with!
Howard took the stage wearing a long, glittery gold robe along with the biggest, most infectious smile that truly lit up the room. The crowd went nuts as she waved and hyped everyone up, before strapping her guitar on and getting down to business. The set opened with “He Loves Me” and had the crowd instantly grooving. It was the perfect opener to set the tone for the rest of the show. Watching Howard, it’s like you can actually feel her passion bleeding through her voice, through every lyric, every facial expression, every drip of sweat- and ooh that guitar. Had me feeling IT! And when that fuzz solo kicked in, absolute FIRE! For the next hour and a half, Howard had the entire venue in the palm of her hands.
Hearing the songs from her critically acclaimed album live was an experience like no other. When “Stay High” started, I watched and listened in awe of her beautiful falsetto. Those high registers she is able to hit so effortlessly- damn Gina- impressive! Everyone in the house was singing and dancing along to every song. For an album that hasn’t been out too long, it was apparent that all the fans in attendance were as obsessed with it as me.
Howard played all tracks from the new album along with a couple of cover songs, including the Jackie Wilson classic “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” which had the crowd dancing like they were at an epic Sunday Service on a Wednesday night- Kanye who?! Another cover was Prince’s “The Breakdown,” introduced as an ode “for the purple one.” Howard and her insanely talented band and back up singers did that song some solid justice. Mind blown!
Howard performs with so much depth and soul, she is truly one of the most dynamic artists out there. She commands the stage like no one’s business. It was, by far one of the most rewarding shows I’ve been lucky enough to attend. If you haven’t had a chance to check her out, do so as soon as you can. (Also, side note: her Tiny Desk performance was quite possibly the best episode I’ve seen- in case you need proof of how amazing of an artist she is- watch that and you’ll get it!)
The powerhouse singer was nominated for two Grammys this past Sunday –Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance– for the politically charged track “History Repeats.” Though Howard did not get the trophies, she’s more than a winner in my eyes- she’s a damn Queen!