Alabama 3, Forum, London

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Only got one I-knew-a-rock-star tale of before they were famous and this is it:

In 1983, at university I found my shaving mirror covered in a talc-like substance.

“Do you know what’s happened here,” I asked my flatmate.

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“Oh, Rob’s been snorting his speed off it,” she said.

Thirty years later and Rob, then my flatmate’s boyfriend, has changed his name to Larry Love and is fronting the peculiar bunch who form Alabama 3.

This was the tenth time I’ve seen them and though I think they peaked maybe seven or eight years ago, there’s still enough to keep you coming back.

They’ve clearly decided a small-ish change of direction is needed. Beeps and squeaks came from the Wizard and the new stuff is more dancey, less country, faux Johnny Cash.

Bass player Segs was not around and with no replacement, the beats were beefed up electronically.

20131217-150525.jpgBut the show now centres more on Aurora Dawn whose voice is, by a bloody long chalk, the best on offer.

In fact she makes Larry and the Reverend D Wayne Love look like HER band. And she’s written songs on the new LP (as I call them) The Men from WOMBLE.

She’s like a punk Diana Ross. Her glitzy glamour way at odds with the rest of the grungy, slightly grubby gang she shares a band with.

D Wayne, with his slicked back hair and burgeoning belly and sporting sunglasses in December resembled a Gravesend gangster on holiday in Magaluf.

But this is Alabama 3 and, as always, anything goes. The more surreal the better.

For about 40 minutes Aurora stood next to a motionless member of the stage crew – a middle-aged pot-bellied guy wh0 stood there swigging cider. Which all added to her lustrous allure.

All the usual first album favourites trotted out – Speed the Sound of Loneliness, Hypo Full of Love, Woke Up This Morning, Ain’t Going to Goa.

Mansion on the Hill, Have you seen Bruce Richard Reynolds? among the rest.

Sound at the front was muddy and some of the keyboards/beats were difficult to pick up.

But, as ever, always a pleasure.

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