Photo by: Danny Clinch
Imagine, if you will, a crowd of hundreds of concertgoers brought to complete stillness and silence for a few transcendent moments. In front of them, the incomparable Brittany Howard baring her soul and that once-in-a-lifetime voice. This was the scene on Friday, September 27, when the Grammy-winning powerhouse brought her Jaime tour to The Fillmore in Philadelphia.
The Alabama Shakes lead singer, who is currently on the road with her first solo effort, could bring the Philly crowd to an awed standstill with songs like the stunning “Short and Sweet” and the magnificent closer “Run to Me.” Her emotions clearly raw with this deeply personal record, it’s hard not to feel her music deep in your bones when she performs in front of you.
Of course, this isn’t to say the artist can’t get you moving and clapping and dancing with absolute joy and freedom, because that’s a huge part of her show, too. From a bouncy cover of Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher” to her own groovy “Stay High,” you couldn’t help but feel good watching Howard. She told us she was going to look “goofy” as she jumped around on stage, but really she just looked so damn cool, and her excitement was infectious.
Draped in a silver sequin cape, Howard felt like nothing short of a musical superhero the entire evening. You felt ready to start a revolution of peace and seek justice thanks to her powerfully urgent anthems “History Repeats” and “13th Century Metal.” You wanted to give her a hug and tell her she’s a damn warrior when she sang “Goat Head” and “Baby.”
But, it wasn’t just her deeply personal music that touched such a deep nerve with all of those who were lucky enough to attend the show. It was her vulnerability and openness with her fans. Howard fed off the palpable energy of the crowd, at one point joking that because she was so hyped up, she’d have to crash on one of our couches to recoup. (Ms. Howard, you will always have a place to stay in Philly.)
She was also sincere in her gratitude, telling fans that because of their response to her and her music, the former post office worker gets to do a job she truly loves. At one point, the Fillmore’s attendees’ ravenous applause brought the singer to tears. It’s obvious that not only does being an artist means the world to her, but so does the fact that her fans will follow her from the Alabama Shakes to her new solo journey. (She performed every track off Jaime during the set, but left her more “well-known” songs at the door.)
Howard spoke (and sang) openly about race, about body image, and about love gone wrong. The things so many of us wouldn’t dare to bring to light, she stands on stage and shares it with the world. Howard is a rare performer that is as earnest in her joy as she is her pain, never shying away from the truth.
She’s not just someone with a voice, she’s someone with the voice. The kind of voice that will stop you in your tracks, and bring a rollicking club to a halt to appreciate and take in everything that’s happening in front of you. The Jaime tour is part-rock, part-gospel, and 100% of Howard baring her soul and sharing her music. It’s nothing short of a privilege to experience it firsthand.