Albert Hammond Jr.
Orlando, FL • January 22, 2007
I couldn’t recall one Incubus song as I walked past the longest line, perhaps, in Hard Rock Live’s history. As is often for me, I was there- at this event that soldout in five minutes- to see the support act, Albert Hammond Jr. You may not recognize his name, or his voice, but you would have to have spent the last five years with your head in the ground to not recognize the jangly electric beeping sounds of his guitar style. If that doesn’t ring a bell, you should- at the very least- find his suit & tie and afro familiar. “Oh, my God. He’s a Stroke!” With his debut solo album about to hit the American streets very soon (it’s been out, and receiving positive buzz, in Europe for months), this quarter of The Strokes has jumped onto the Incubus tour to start all over again- this time with all the credit sitting on his shoulders (and that of his band).
The venue filled almost immediately, as the rabid Incubus fans piled into the general admission floor space to get their up-close vantage points of Brandon Boyd and company. Frat boys, hipsters, hippies and top 40 fans lined up for the bar next to one another to drink their way into an oblivion so that by the time Albert Hammond Jr. stepped out the room was toasted and jovial. “Hello, my name is Albert,” he spoke from center stage before a large gulp from a red cup.
The music that followed was what you would expect, meaning that he didn’t toss in the ol’ garage rock towel and go country or electronic on his fans. With his solo-penned tunes he has taken the catchy hooks and fun melodies of his day job band and added quite a substantial portion of early Beatles influence (or The Redwalls to be more exact). Songs like “Everyone’s Gets a Star,” “Holiday” and “Bright Young Thing” have a 60’s flavor but have been plugged in and turned up. What’s really noticeable is what a great time Junior (his papa was an accomplished songwriter and musician in the 60’s and 70’s) was having onstage with his new band of brothers. Permanent band member Matt Romano was joined by touring members Marc Philippe Eskenazi and Steve Schiltz (of the band Longwave).
Though most of the crowd gave the support act their undivided attention, it was quite evident that Incubus was the band of the hour, and when the lights finally fell and Chris Kilmore found his seat at the keyboard, the eruption behind me was nothing short of breathtaking. Brandon Boyd’s popular face, and ever-present glass of red wine, did little to quell the volcanic rush of excitement. It was song after song, with little frills (save for some high-tech lighting) and little talk, and as the smell of green quickly filled the air near the stage, the party atmosphere had been established completely.
Touring behind their 6th release, Light Grenades, the band has taken an intentional step down from the arenas they could easily fill and are doing the midsize club circuit for the first time in years. This, in Orlando at least, resulted in a “hot ticket” factor and many, many sad faces outside the venue with signs reading things like, “I will do anything for a ticket!…Anything!”
I still can’t say that I know an Incubus song by heart, but I can say that I’m glad I was there.