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Alberta Cross, Dingwalls, Camden Town, March 15th 2010

March 16, 2010

Heavy rock band Alberta Cross have been away from these shores for a while. Originally a hook-up between an expatriate Swede and an Eastender, they’re now expanded and based in Brooklyn. The Suit and I first saw them three years at the 100 Club and were very impressed. Their music leans heavily on past masters such as Zeppelin, Crazy Horse, Pearl Jam and the Stones, but they’ve engineered very much their own sound.

In more recent years, it seems that most of their gigs in this country have been in support of big acts such as Oasis and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. This time around, they’re supporting the Dave Matthews Band, which is slightly bizarre – I’m not sure what DMB’s cocoa-and-slippers brigade make of these heavy hairy stoners, but I’d love to see the looks on their faces. In between DMB megashows, they’ve managed to squeeze in this ‘initmate’ gig at Dingwalls, which is fine by me.

By the by, I was confused to read that Alberta Cross are promoting their debut album Broken Side Of Time. So what was that CD I bought three years ago called The Thief And The Heartbreaker then? Apparently it’s been recast as an EP, but with seven tracks compared to Broken Side Of Time’s ten, it’s a fine distinction. Especially as two of its tracks also appear on the new ‘album’. Whatevah…

I’m glad we turned up promptly, as the support were excellent young guns Treetop Flyers, whom The Suit and I saw several times last year and enjoyed their CSNYish tunes and harmonies. They didn’t disappoint on this occasion either and seemed to be appreciated by the increasingly intoxicated crowd (we were joined by the Browne Bluesman and later Mick the Banjo, so our own consumption accelerated somewhat too). They were off to SXSW in Austin the following morning, so good luck to ’em – they deserve it.

Alberta Cross finally appeared and it was clear early on in their set that the heavier, more shoegazy style of their album is winning out over the more melodic, slightly softer sound of their earlier stuff. This isn’t entirely welcome, as songs like Rise From The Shadows can tend to wander off in an early 90s sort of way. Still, there was plenty there to enjoy and their sound is spot on. Three years of heavy gigging have tightened them up, but they still enjoy a certain slackness and the hazy mumbled vocals emphasise that bleary Jack-Daniels-and-a joint-vibe.

Highlights were a long and spooky The Devil’s All You Ever Had and a rousing audience-participation version of the righteous Old Man Chicago. Here’s a video of it for your enjoyment:

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