By Leslie Witt

“It’s our last show of the year, so we’d better make it good,” declared Alabama Shakes lead singer/guitarist/songwriter Brittany Howard. And we’d best believe her.

She puts it all on the line all of the time, whether singing tender confessions in blue flame burners like “Heartbreaker” or revving up on rockers like “Heavy Chevy.” Shaking her fingers, or shouting “listen to me!” in “I Ain’t the Same,” you can’t help but feel it down to your toes.

The home grown band from Athens, Alabama plays a tight and steady-rolling 21st century brand of sweet southern soul. The sound may be rooted in music you know and love, but it plays out as though you’re hearing it for the first time.

Many of us were instantly hooked on “Hold On,” from their debut Boys and Girls, and disappointed when their highly anticipated appearance at Lollapalooza was cancelled by a lightning storm. So to hear them at last in the historic Chicago Theater was a treat, especially being flanked by two bands worthy of separate blog posts, Band of Horses and Everest.

No doubt Alabama Shakes felt the love, too, as Brittany Howard said toward the end of the set, “I’m a long way from home, but I don’t feel alone.” And we believed her.

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