Photos by Annette Geneva
Albert Hammond Jr is indie rock’s best kept secret. While it’s only natural to follow the solo efforts of The Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas, the guitarist has just pumped out his third record. In his long solo tenure, he’d never made his way to Australia, but after an impressive showing at Oxford Art Factory, all was forgiven.
Opening with the catchy and instantly recognisable ‘Everyone Gets a Star’ was the perfect kick off. Energy rushed from Hammond’s axe through the crowd as if a green light had come on allowing us all to party. The feeling was reciprocated through the band who didn’t stop smiling throughout the track.
This was continued all night with Hammond feeding off the crowd as the front-row-faithful jumped along to the more up tempo tracks off his latest album, Momentary Masters. Popular single ‘Losing Touch’ came early in the set with barely a break beforehand to brace yourself. Again, an instantly recognisable opening riff got the crowd excited to sing along. It’s what we’ve come to expect from the guitarist, who’s often too modest when it comes to his own skills. His white fender spent a lot of the show strapped to his back, but he’d whip it out like a pistol whenever a jam was deemed necessary by his uplifting band. When all three guitarists combined it was controlled mayhem. They’ve obviously spent a lot of time together, and it really showed as they never missed a beat.
The rest of the set list was a mixture of old and new. Where some bands may focus on their latest record, it’s been a while between visits, so AHJ was happy to dabble in classics such as ‘In Transit’, ‘101’ and ‘GFC’ which were all met with a rapture of cheers. There was little introduction before songs, which made everything a welcomed surprise. New and upbeat tracks ‘Caught By My Shadow’ and ‘Razors Edge’ were positioned next to the slower songs, as the night continued to keep you on your toes.
Particularly the end of the show where Hammond stood alone on stage as relaxed blue lighting rose around him. The band would make their way back on stage one by one as they broke into instrumental ‘Spooky Couch’ that very smoothly transformed into ‘Side Boob’. The transition again showed the experience of the five piece who were happy enough to let us backstage after the show.
Thanks for the show and beers, and sorry for eating the strawberries in your fridge. Hopefully it’s not as long between visits next time.