Albert Hammond Jr // Live Review

Islington Assembly Hall – November 25th

When you’ve been in a band as downright legendary as The Strokes, you can get away with a lot. For Albert Hammond Jr tonight, that means attiring himself all in white – and few would dare say he doesn’t pull it off. The equally eye-catching Islington Assembly Hall fills up as he plays London for the first time since releasing third studio album Momentary Masters back in July.

Among other things, going solo gives AHJ the chance to rest his string-worn fingers for much of the set – he almost looks as cool with guitar on back during opener ‘St. Justice’ as he does when it’s in his hands. Joined by his band, he’s one of three guitarists on stage tonight – who needs six strings when you can have 18?

As much as he’s here to bring his latest record to life, Hammond remains well aware of the popularity of his earlier solo offerings, and it shows as he loads up the front end of his set with them. ‘Back To The 101’ is a winter-warming delight from 2006’s debut LP Yours To Keep and judging by the rapturous reception it receives, it’s thoroughly stood the test of time. ‘Rude Customer’, on the other hand, sees him draw from 2013 comeback EP AHJ – it’s met with the same adulation.

Truth be told, nothing Albert Hammond Jr does can induce any response but unconditional love. Sure, he presumably gained the majority of his fans in his time rocking and rolling with The Strokes – something that’s still not over, lest we forget – but such is the strength and appeal of his solo identity, you get the feeling many pledge a separate allegiance to that line of his work. The small hard core that dance the night away in front of the stage would certainly suggest that that’s the case.

The standouts from Momentary Masters on the night are its swaggering opening duo ‘Power Hungry’ and ‘Born Slippy’, and both are as warmly received as the numbers Hammond picks from his back catalogue. If and when The Strokes do eventually call it a day, their stylish rhythm guitarist will have no intrusive thoughts of “What now?” – the love for him is undeniably strong. “I feel like I’m dreaming…This is tremendous” is the assessment of the night from the man himself – he’s welcome back any time.

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