State has been spreading the word about Alberta Cross to our mates ever since we discovered last years Thief & The Heartbreaker mini-album, and recently got presented with their strong and assured first album proper, Broken Side Of Time. In the last week our friends have reported in from gigs in Brussels, Aarhus and Stockholm with high praises for the five-piece’s live efforts so it was with pleasure we crossed the pond to the Debasser club in the south of Sweden to witness it ourselves.
The band are a mix of Swedish and English histories but glow with a sound of Americana. Singer Petter Ericson Stakee sings with a falsetto somewhat reminicent of Seattle’s Band Of Horses, but though the sound is also blues-rock influenced there’s something broader in Alberta Cross’ approach which banishes thoughts of plaid shirts and sitting on a porch.
The venue is perfection, a beautiful restaurant which serve a wonderful steak sandwich and just when your plates are cleared a wall behind the two djing blondes (well, we are in Sweden) concertinas open and the decks are wheeled inside what is revealed as a superbly appointed wide room with a stage one end and a lush outdoor chilling/smoking area on the opposite side. When the band appear people politely move in and we all have plenty of room. None of the venues seem to have been full on this tour but it would be a crime if this continued in 2010.
There’s not much chat from the band at all but they punch straight into the new album which is a sound that is bigger and broader than their first release and also feels bigger than the room itself. We’re not looking at a small venue band here. The sound is excellent. The band look great onstage – long-haired, skinny and energetic – also tight as hell. -Song Three Blues’ serve an introduction of what they do best – they start hard then build up the pace in quite a restrained way considering there are five people with instruments on stage. The can then let rip either in a tight way just go balls out with the guitars, but always pulling any rock-out back from the brink.
-Leave Us And Forgive Us’ is the sort of moment that you get lost in and only remember how damn good it was when you catch it on YouTube, though our singer struggles a bit with some of the high notes. All too soon we’re blasted with -ATX’ and the main set is over and we’re a little too dazed (and a little drunk) to remember do the usual stuff like take notes and think critically.
-Low Man’, the first song of theirs we ever heard (in an episode of Californication), opens the encore and lets us catch our breath then they close things up with the album’s title track, which sums up what they do best. Paced like Hitchcock it allows the band, for the final minute, to give it the full lash. They’ve taken all the best elements of the idea of a rock band, perfected it and made it look effortless and for our trouble we get one of the best nights out of the year. Joy.
Photos: Jakob Bekker-Hansen