Albert Hammond Jr. Leaves POP Montreal Crowd With Mixed Feelings
Albert Hammond Jr.'s POP Montreal show seemed iffy upon its announcement. The concert was originally set to take place at the Virgin Mobile Corona Theatre, a venue which Albert played last time he was in town, a venue in which his Strokes bandmate Julian Casablancas damn near sold out when he played there with his band The Voidz last November. The show was ultimately moved to a much smaller venue, La Sala Rossa (this site can hold 220 when at its maximum capacity, while Corona is able to handle 753). Despite the change in venue, Hammond was still able to pack the concert hall, it eager fans crammed inside the small room waiting for his arrival.
Hammond's set consisted solely of solo material, somewhat to the dismay of the audience. When one member of the crowd yelled out "Play a Strokes song!" while Hammond was talking in between songs, the guitarist laughed and replied, "No, no, no! I shan't dabble in that tonight!" and went on with the performance. Despite an enjoyment for his solo work, this factor definitely disappointed many members of the crowd, myself included.
Nonetheless, there are many songs in Hammond's solo catalogue that have a familiar Strokes-esque feel to them, especially within the choruses and guitar parts. Although it is by no means "bad", Hammond's voice is by no means close to being on the level of Julian Casablancas, lacking the personality and range that helped the world fall in love with The Strokes.
Despite this major "Strokeless" upset, Hammond does in fact have three records that have many fun songs for live shows. Highlights of the evening include the self reflective yet slightly pseudo "Losing Touch" (it was honestly more of a crowd pleaser than it was a personal favourite), "In Transit" and "Side Boob", a track off of his latest album, Momentary Masters.
The final verdict is that this is a show we would have much more enjoyed had Hammond have always been a solo entity. The fact of the matter is that when compared to Casablancas' solo shows, Hammond looks bland. It gets even worse if we compare it to a show of The Strokes. Albert Hammond Jr.'s solo show made us miss The Strokes being together, and we don't mean that in a good way.