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Brittany Howard is backed, both on record and in concert, by the airtight proficiency of ace players. (Erik Jacobs for NPR)

Alabama Shakes, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2012

Jul 29, 2012

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Making its first appearance at the Newport Folk Festival, Alabama Shakes rattled the Fort Stage to an ecstatic audience. After the band's thunderous set, Brittany Howard later lent her vocals to My Morning Jacket's glorious headlining set. Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes performs on the Fort Stage at the Newport Folk Festival.

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For all the attention Alabama Shakes' music has attracted in 2012 — and its album Boys & Girls marked a huge breakthrough earlier this year — the live stage is where the soulful blues-rock band transcends mere "one to watch" status. Boys & Girls is the work of polished professionals at the top of their game, but in concert, Alabama Shakes' music reaches ecstatic, sprawling, rafter-shaking heights. Singer Brittany Howard has the bearing, power and charisma of a star twice her age, but on stage, she's positively dominant. She belts, sure, but she doesn't just belt.

It helps that Howard is backed, both on record and in concert, by the airtight proficiency of ace backing players. For a group that wouldn't sound out of place among epic-minded jam bands, it's telling that Alabama Shakes' new record rarely lets its songs stretch beyond the four-minute mark: These folks don't waste a second, and the resulting sound feels both loose and impossibly tight. Here, the band performs at the 2012 Newport Folk Festival, recorded live on Saturday, July 28 in Newport, R.I.

Set List:

  • "Goin' to the Party"
  • "Hold On"
  • "Hang Loose"
  • "Always Alright"
  • "Rise to the Sun"
  • "I Found You"
  • "Heartbreaker"
  • "Boys & Girls"
  • "Be Mine"
  • "Mama"
  • "Making Me Itch"
  • "I Ain't the Same"
  • "You Ain't Alone"
  • "Heavy Chevy"
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