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Volume 35
Issue 10
 
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Albert Hammond, Jr. makes it short and sweet at The Crocodile Café
Albert Hammond, Jr. makes it short and sweet at The Crocodile Café
by Jessica Browning - SGN A&E Writer

Albert Hammond, Jr. w/ The Mooney Suzuki
March 2 @ The Crocodile Café

Albert Hammond, Jr. isn't just another pedigreed member of hugely popular rock heroes The Strokes. He's got his own plans and talent in spades, and a hot new solo release hitting stores this week. Not to mention that he's charming and adorable as well. Yours To Keep has been receiving a lot of scrutiny due to the high profile of his "real" job as The Strokes' rhythm (and occasional lead) guitarist, but the music speaks for itself. Hammond is the first band member to release a solo outing (and a very good one at that), and he happened to kick off his first headlining US tour in Seattle last Friday night at The Crocodile Café.

Openers The Mooney Suzuki were a little on the&well, flaccid side. I prefer the more fiery incarnation of the band in its earlier days, right before the advent of The Strokes in fact. The Moonies were entertaining to watch, but not exactly mind-blowing as they were when they seemed to be exploding onstage five or six years ago. The brainy hipsters in the all ages crowd seemed to take them in reservedly, if not a bit politely. It's hard not to feel a bit silly when you have to stand on either side of an orange barricade, separating the drinking age concertgoers from the non-drinkers.

While waiting, I kept wondering if the handpicked pre-show music was striking a chord with anyone else. It was actually pleasant to stand around in anticipation to the strains of old Bruce Springsteen tunes such as "I'm On Fire". I love it when bands do the crowd a good turn by choosing some excellent warm up music. After a brief interval, when Hammond, Jr. and his band finally made their way through the bar and took the stage, everyone in the crowd instantly rallied around for a good time.

Flanked by a four-piece band (three guitarists, bass, and drums) Hammond was looking amped up and ready to go. Wearing his typical suit jacket complete with rock buttons, curly locks, and boyish grin, the first song was inevitably met with a lot of screams from the diehard Strokes fans and Hammond, Jr. beamed down in appreciation. Next, the band jumped immediately into the dreamy "Holiday" and "Everyone Gets A Star". Hammond, Jr. seemed like an old pro onstage, which makes perfect sense considering the worldwide and relentless touring his mainstay band has done. The rest of the group seemed a bit more awkward, not unlike when I first saw The Strokes open up for Doves on the very same stage before they even had a full-length album out. With some distinctly, familiar sounding riffs scattered through his solo material, it's hard to miss the realization of just how much Hammond, Jr. contributes to The Strokes' trademark sound, yet it sounds very different at the same time.

A quick cover of a Frank Black tune ended a semi-acoustic run of tunes and the sing-songy "Blue Skies". The band was at its best during the more uptempo, spirited songs, including the dynamic "In Transit" and "101", which is my favorite and is surely destined to be the biggest hit off the record. The set was peppered with a few numbers I didn't recognize; perhaps they are the bonus tracks to be released on the US version of the album (released this week on Rough Trade).

Even though he played about 11 songs, it seemed the show was over before it really got fully off the ground. The crowd was itching for more, but after "Scared" and "Hard To Live In The City" (whose horns parts were cleverly redone with guitars), the band filed quickly offstage and on came the lights and exit music. It seemed a little anticlimactic and abrupt. No goodbye kisses? No encore to bring down the house one last time? Maybe it was just in the pacing of the tunes and the order chosen, but the set seemed a bit slight.

Perhaps fans of Albert Hammond, Jr. will have to wait until he comes around again. With such a promising record under his belt, it's most definitely worth another try.

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