A sign behind the bar at Bristol Academy warns that those looking under 21 will be required to produce identification. That's all the bar staff then, or is it that I'm getting real old now?
Anyway Krakatoa will have to find their i.d. for sure. Five lads from London with a swaggering, staggeringly confident attitude. Lead single modelled on Liam Gallagher, staring aggressively at the crowd during instrumental breaks. Guitarist playing chopped bar chords using his thumb as a bridge and walking erect like Wilko Johnson.
We tick off the influences - Beatles, Oasis, Stone Roses, Hard-Fi, The Coral, Dr Feelgood of course - and wonder if these guys are going to be big. They are certainly tight. The all-white male band, Fred Perry polo-shirt look, Remembrance Sunday dedication - we wonder if this is a band who have appeared on charges for racism. We can't make out enough of the lyrics to tell their views. But we know the Alabamas are famously anti-racist and wouldn't have Krakatoa on their bill if they meant trouble. So we are judging by appearances too. Suckers us.
Anyway the Alabama 3. If you haven't been keeping up here's a potted history. There's more than three of them and they're not from the States. They wrote the theme tune to the Sopranos 'Woke up this Morning' which, according to their web site 'earned someone a swimming pool but it wasn't us.' It appeared on their first album back in 1997. They are touring a new album which isn't ready yet. They are famously mashed and audiences regularly mellow. They don't sing their songs; they perform. Audiences will sweat.
Following a short DJ set from The Mountain of Love (the name given to their harp blower and onstage analog fascist and sequencer controller), along with a generous array of new tunes, they gave us several from that first album and one or two from all the others. Larry and D. Wayne have an onstage duel of witticisms a couple of which are coherent, there's lots of pointing at soloists and a bit of choreography during Hypo Full of Love (this may be a drugs reference ladies and gentlemen). Keyboard player The Spirit blond, waif-like and entering the stage in a fur coat and bowler hat tips up his organ from time to time but never really becomes Keith Emerson. Mrs T has accompanied me previously and sent a message, 'Tell me if he's still alive.'
They are a blend of country, acid-house, gospel, hip-hop and something I don't rightly recognise D. Wayne but I'll be on my knees repenting at the first Presleytarian Church of Elvis the divine as soon as I get it. I allow myself to laugh inwardly as we sing the anthem 'Let's Go Back to Church.' Then everyone else gets the chance (if only they knew) to laugh at me singing that the devil has the best tunes.
This band makes me laugh (at myself mainly), makes me dance and is not meant to be a serious spiritual proposition. It's an act. Fantastic evening.