ALBERT HAMMOND JR – Botanique Venue, Brussels – 30 November 2015
Six armed policemen and two armed soldiers at the entrance of the ‘Botanique’ venue. This must be a rock and roll concert in Brussels ! I may sound cynical but surely this situation is not funny at all. On the other hand it was no surprise as our capital became
a ghost town (closure of shops, banks, schools, public transportation / no football games, no concerts, no events whatsoever.) for a week, guarded by security police and soldiers. In the aftermath of the horrific tragedy in Paris and possible accomplices hiding in Brussels, the potential terrorist attacks alarm went up to the highest level. Only tonight (November 30) all sort of venues opened their doors again but still with armed surveillance. Did I
feel scared? No, not at all, happily enough, although you think frequently about the surreal fact that people cowardly get killed at a rock concert too. I already went to a gig (Wolf Alice) in Brussels between the terrifying Paris drama and the Brussels lockdown, but I must add that there were no security guards with guns that night (November 18th) to influence unintentionally our perception in a negative or frightening way. What I do think about, daily, since 13/11 is the view, in my mind, of the inside of Paris theatre Le Bataclan as I witnessed in 2010 a concert by Courtney Love (with Hole) in that very same venue where 89 out of the 130 victims died.
So I know what the beautiful, historic building looks like in and out, with hideous images in my head, now and then, as a result. I really hope the families and friends of the victims get all the help they need and I hope from the bottom of my heart that they all can continue their lives properly and with a smile and joy again someday soon. For us, not directly involved, it’s certainly easier to go on but we definitely should do too without fear (something millions of poor human beings can’t as they were born and live in never-ending, horrible war zones).
In troubled times I embrace rock & roll even more. Despite the circumstances, it
felt good to be in Brussels again. Albert Hammond Jr felt obviously thrilled too and shared his happy feelings frequently with the enthusiastic audience. The Strokes’ cool cat released his 3rd, excellent solo album ‘Momentary Masters’ earlier this year. A record full of captivating rock and pop tunes. Highly melodic shake & swing stuff.
As expected the whole setlist got a ‘this-is-a-live-concert’ treatment. High-voltage modus and rousing jams. Hammond Jr has a firm character voice. He’s a vibrant entertainer, a clever and protrusive songwriter and he has an eye for a mighty solid, red-hot band to back him up…
A striking five-piece collective of fully charged musicians having big fun while generating several highlights: Power Hungry / Losing Touch / Razors Edge / Born Slippy / Caught By My Shadow / Side Boob and the intimate instrumental ‘Spooky Couch‘. Rock and roll is here (again) to stay. It will never lose its touch…
… even if you’re born slippy…