Albert Hammond Jr, as the music playing before he walks on stage tells us, is back in the New York groove. Tonight marks the first time he’s played in his home town since 2016, but he more than makes up for his absence by being in the form of his life - playful, compelling, and a joy to watch.
The zipping guitars of ‘Caught By My Shadow’ and the breezy swoon of ‘Holiday’ open things with a familiar bang before he reminds the crowd why we’re all here - to celebrate new album ‘Francis Trouble’. “If you haven’t heard it yet that’s your loss,” he says dryly ahead of a wistful ‘Set To Attack’, the first new song of the night.
He’s not wrong, either. If tonight proves anything it’s a) how much he’s grown into the role of frontman and b) just how good his new record is. The likes of ‘DvsL’ and ‘Tea For Two’ not only fit seamlessly among older tracks, but stand out as glistening highlights. The former indulges Albert’s showmanship while driven by riffs indebted to Iggy Pop’s ‘Lust For Life’.
For the most part, the iconic guitarist leaves playing six strings up to his bandmates. It’s a sight that takes a little getting used to, but he wears the freedom it gives him well. Throughout the set he dances around the stage with his palms splayed at his sides, as if he’s about to burst into a tap routine, or clambers up amps and drum risers. Before ‘In Transit’, he invites friends Hinds on stage. Ana Perrote repays him by unleashing a torrent of beer into his face mid-song, while Carlotta Cosials launches herself off stage in euphoria.
If the Madrid band and the audience are having a lot of fun, Albert is clearly having even more of it. When he returns for the encore, he takes his yellow jacket and hangs it on top of his mic stand, places it over his face, and holds his mic up in front, as if his clothes are possessed and singing ‘Rocky’s Late Night’. “Ladies and genitals, how fantastic you are,” he declares before finale ‘Muted Beatings’. “I’d like to never leave a stage like this.” Unrealistic it may be, but it feels like no one present would have cause for complaint if he carried on forever.
Photos: Joyce Lee