Yes, it’s the guy from The Strokes. And the drummer who was in The Strokes for a while too, but he’s not their proper drummer of course. If you’re here expecting near perfect pop songs, New York style, then you’re going to be waiting a long time.
And on tonight’s performance, that’s fairly reasonable of his band mates. These aren’t Strokes songs.
Preceding the one with the hair from across the Atlantic came two sisters from Alabama. Strangely that didn’t get as many laughs as I thought it would at the gig either. The Pierces start with a simple duet – just the sisters singing, no instruments. Then they crashed into their set of wandering folk-pop melancholy, never quite hitting the spot but making a good noise in the process. Towards the end of the set they seemed to be displaying some song crafting potential, but by then I wasn’t the only person seeking alternative entertainment at the bar.
“Go!” shouts Albert, and go they do. His band mates providing the musical skeleton, Hammond was left to simple chords and warm vocals. Songs like the turbulent 101 or In Transit are dispatched with aplomb; the latters Beach Boys-esque harmony dispelling the cold air that lurks outside on a cold November evening.
I wish I could say this was the gig to disprove the theory – it is possible to be in a successful band and produce solo work that stands on its own, but I left under whelmed. Not for lack of effort or genuine emotion, of which Hammond displays with a humble confidence easily, but like so many whose solo efforts go overshadowed by the band that brought them to greatness, Albert will forever be a part of the Strokes.
And at the moment, Hammond lacks what his band do so well – an arsenal of simply magic tunes. He has one or two of his own, but standing on his own name alone is some way off. On tonight’s evidence, he’s on his way, but still has a fair way to go.