Alabama Shakes’ triumphant return to ACL

Alabama Shakes wowed us three years ago when they taped Austin City Limits in support of their debut Boys & Girls. Now, with the band taking over the world with their follow-up Sound & Color, we were pleased to welcome them back to our stage for a triumphant second taping, and on singer Brittany Howard’s birthday, no less.

The band clearly takes a lot of pride in their new record, as they played every song from it. The quartet, augmented by two keyboardists and three backup singers, kicked off the night with the slinky “Future People,” a three-cowbell song for the singers. The combo followed with the wailing “Dunes,” featuring a clanging Howard guitar solo as well as her distinctively soulful vocals. “Shoegaze” moved the band out of the retro soul bag in which it’s often placed into somewhere more rocking. The Shakes then revisited their debut Boys & Girls for the fan favorite soul ballad “Heartbreaker,” before going back to a streak from Sound & Color. The Hi Records-styled “Guess Who,” the church-powered “Joe”  and the powerful “Miss You” brought the mood to a boil, letting the rocking “The Greatest” blow off the steam. The set hit a peak with “Gimme All Your Love,” the band’s destined-to-be classic anthem that appeared in our 40th anniversary special before it was released. The audience rewarded the Shakes by serenading the birthday girl with a spontaneous “Happy Birthday.”

The new “This Feeling” turned the heat back down to simmer before giving way once again to the past for B&G’s gospel-flavored “On Your Way.” Sound &Color gave us another trilogy of future classics: the atmospheric ballad “Gemini,” the gently groovy title track and the 70s funky strut “Don’t Wanna Fight.” The band then visited its contribution to the hit film The Silver Linings Playbook for the rocking dance tune “Always Alright,” a clear audience favorite. The Shakes’ hit lighter-waver “You Ain’t Alone” followed, much to the crowd’s delight. Howard then thanked the crowd for its support before the band ended with S&C’s sparse, soulful “Over My Head.” It was a great set that proved how much Alabama Shakes deserves every bit of acclaim and success they’ve earned, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs early next year on your local PBS station.