Albert Hammond Jr, O2 Academy, Leeds

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Albert Hammond Jr Giving Some Kind Strokes in Leeds.

It is the Monday night blues, he almost lifted the heads of the Franz Ferdinand faithful.

It’s a difficult job for a rhythm/lead guitarist from a worldwide highly successful band to make it as a solo artist. Like Carl Barat without his oppo in The Libertines, you are reduced to playing smaller venues and releasing introspective and much more personal albums, with various collective friends and acquaintances forming members of your live band.

Albert Hammond Jr, for those unaware was a major part of The Strokes, and whilst we believe they are at least still talking to each other, there is no sign of a reunion anytime soon. The principal leader of the band and singer – Julian Casablancas, is about to release his 2nd ‘Voidz’ side project album very soon. As a result a fully cleaned up AHJ is continuing his earnest work ethic, promoting his upcoming 4th solo studio album ‘Francis Trouble’ by playing as support to Franz Ferdinand on their UK Tour.

The entrance is cool, a taped speaking/shouting intro and the band file out to a few whoops from the few that may be aware of what they are likely to witness. But if you are expecting to hear a few Strokes classics, well – you will be sorry, it’s not happening. However, if you want to see a performance where the artist gives his all, plays some quite pleasant indie quirky blues tracks with energy and sweat – then you’re in and you are enjoying it.

Frequently picking a riff from his Fender and collection of pedals on stage. He then swaps guitar for straight frontman mic antics, occasionally dropping his knees, shaking his mop of curly hair. It isn’t long before the jacket is off to reveal a white T-Rex Shirt and how I wish Bolan was still alive treading the boards. I think he would have approved the guitarist turned frontman, and the openness and enthusiasm portrayed by Hammond Jr tonight.

Tracks like ‘Born Slippy’ (No not the Underworld version!) and ‘Power Hungry’ are full of swagger and AHJ is the epitome of cool college rock, if college rock was still a thing. Weirdly the Franz Ferdinand audience tonight are a mixture of older fans and a large percentage of student kids on a night out, it’s a reasonable match but they seem to remain quite muted at the worthy efforts made.

Standout track was new one ‘Muted Beatings’ with its single note repeating riff and the “I don’t care” refrain at the end. He must be a sound man’s nightmare as he drops the mic.

Even at the end when he has used all his energy and jumps into the pit to walk around the side to leave the stage rather than the back way, we get a few cheers and clapping of hands. Maybe it’s a regional thing, with our “Go on then – impress us lad” attitude, and adding a few “Yorkshire…Yorkshire” chants for effect (will we ever let that go?). But tonight it felt like he gave all he could in the circumstances.  I hope some left with an interest in following his progress, the album ‘Francis Trouble’ is due to be released on March 9th.

Over 30 years’ gig going and has t-shirts older than most punters. Frequently found in pubs, concert halls and festivals avoiding any form of normal work

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