Date: November 9, 2000
Venue: The Metro
City: Chicago, IL
A Review by:
– The Dude on the Right
So you are a fan of “The Sopranos” and every week you hear the opening theme song, “Woke Up This Morning,” and say to yourself “Self, I wonder who does that song?” Maybe even one week you actually watch all of the credits to see if they say who does the song, but sadly, it isn’t listed.
You, however, are not as anal as I am, so you just let it go, as opposed to me who starts doing internet searches up the wazoo and finally finds that the song is by a band from across the pond called Alabama 3, for some legal reason called A3 here in the states, and then the challenge is to hit all of the local stores around me to find their CD because I can’t wait a couple of days for it if I order it over the internet.
I buy the CD for one song and find a band that has such a strange mix of influences that I can’t help but like this band.
With that it was with much anticipation that I made my way to The Metro in Chicago to catch a band with so much sound that I wondered how it would fit on the little Metro stage. It was a tight fit on the stage, but sadly not as tight a fit in the audience, and for a band that was able to draw two dudes all the way from Indianapolis, Indiana at this show, as well as one dude from overseas who says that A3 can fill a place five times the size of The Metro back home, it ended up being an intimate show for not too many people by a band that you could see was slightly disappointed in the audience showing, but still gave the show their all.
A3 opened with “Woke Up This Morning” and I, at first, was kinda worried. The crowd wasn’t that big in the first place so I figured that having heard the song they wanted to hear, well, the audience might begin to thin as the night went on, especially since it looked like most of the crowd didn’t really know any more of the band’s songs. But you know how I know A3 did their job? Because it didn’t seem like anybody left until the lights came on after “Sinking…”
Me, I knew a good majority of the songs because “Exile on Coldharbour Lane” had been on a high rotation in this dude’s CD playlist. They didn’t disappoint me with the likes of The First Minister of The First Presleyterian Church of Elvis the Divine, Dr. D. Wayne Love, leading the crowd through “Hypo Full of Love”, then a rousing “Mao Tse Tung Said”, and later “U Don’t Dans 2 Tekno Anymore” showed some of the country in this band’s mix of country, acid, house music with funky blues mixed in. But this hour and a half show also highlighted much of A3’s new material from “La Peste” which has quickly gone to the top of my “must get” list of CD’s. “Too Sick to Pray” hits that great mix of techno and blues that A3 does so well, a nice tribute to the country side with the Hank Williams cover in “Mansion on the Hill,” and at first I thought, as D. Wayne said “I wanna play one we didn’t write,” and the band went into John Prine’s “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness”, and the crowd reacted so well, that “Speed…” should have been the show closer and not “Sinking…”, but as “Sinking…” wrapped up the show, well, it’s just as good a show closer.
Some other highlights included another new song “Wade Into the Water,” which they labeled as REO Speedwagon crossed with Merle Haggard (D. Wayne said he liked REO Speedwagon for their album covers), and I really liked “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlife.”
A3 is a band that to me seems hard to market in the radio environment of today, at least here in the United States. You’ve got techno with your traditional looping and house beat. Then you’ve got some classic country mixed in, the inspirations of people like Merle Haggard and Hank Williams. Now add a touch of gospel. And finally take the inspiration of a bunch of blues greats. All together you get A3, a mix of sound that sadly won’t make the dance stations, is tough to add to the rock stations, is almost too alternative for alternative, and you couldn’t put the country sounding songs on a country station today if God said so. But A3 puts on a great live show and if you like “Woke Up This Morning” from “The Sopranos,” well, I highly recommend picking up their latest CD and trying to see them live. Who knows, maybe they’ll make it on the radio anyway.
Let’s wrap up my preaching and just say that A3 preaches just a little bit better than I do, especially this night at The Metro. The crowd stayed, had a good time through songs they didn’t seem to know, and when a band can do that, well, the band is doing their job. It’s TWO “I’m Converted!” THUMBS UP! for A3 and I really hope more people find them because I look forward to their return to Chicago.
That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!