A diverse crowd gathered at the Ogden Theatre on Thursday night to witness Brittany Howard kick off her West Coast leg of her debut solo tour. The varied fans we met were two excited music enthusiasts who drove all the way from Utah to see the dynamic musician (the women fought their way to the front of the stage after the doors opened), an elegantly dressed retired couple captivated by the artist that dazzled them on the Austin City Limits television series, and newlyweds who marched down the aisle to the music of Alabama Shakes (Howard’s other band). They were all thrilled to be seeing a former mail carrier from Alabama deliver greatness.
Howard mainly performed material from her extremely personal album Jaime named after her late sister. After playing the captivating He Loves Me and Georgia, the sparkly robe wearing Howard told the crowd that her main goal was to make sure the audience had a good time. That’s when she launched into her latest single Stay High (insert your own Denver weed joke here). Howard sang and danced with the backing vocalists like a well-choreographed Supreme routine. An obscure Prince song entitled Breakdown from his 2014 album Art Official Age was covered. The song seemed like it was written specifically for Howard.
Jackie Wilson’s Higher and Higher was the next cover tune. The band went into overdrive while Howard darted around the stage making the audience feel like her love was lifting them “higher and higher” (insert another Denver weed joke here). The highlight of the night was 13th Century Metal. The keyboards and the drums created a pulse stopping commotion while strobe lights increased in intensity. Instead of singing, Howard used spoken word to preach, “I am dedicated to oppose those whose will is to divide us /And who are determined to keep us in the dark ages of fear /I hear the voices of the unheard /Speak for those who cannot speak /And shelter the minds that carry a message of peace, love, and prosperity.” There was a drum solo placed in the middle of the tune giving Howard a chance to catch her breath backstage.
The show ended with Run to Me (it was the last track on her album as well). Appearing alone flooded by the intense light of the spotlight, Howard poured out all of her remaining energy and sang, ““All the world, let’s put it off /They don’t deserve your funny charms /They don’t make you feel sane/ If there’s no one left to say goodbye to /If there’s no last message to impart/ Oh, your tires are left behind you /Run, run, run, run, run to me.” The women from Utah, the distinguished couple, and the newlyweds left the venue with even more admiration for Brittany Howard.
Georgia Anne Muldrow opened the show. If her last name sounds familiar, her father is legendary jazz musician Ronald Muldrow. Additionally, her mother is Rickie Byars-Beckwith the musical director of the Agape International Choir. Muldrow looked warm and comfortable dressed in an oversized sweat suit with sunglasses She performed songs about nature and feeling brand new with her laptop blaring prerecorded tracks. She even got a few members of the crowd to sing-along between rapping and making laser sounds.
See you at the next show. I’ll be the one in the sparkly robe dancing like a Supreme.