Early in her set, Brittany Howard told fans she needed as much energy as they could muster to get through the emotional highs and lows of Jaime (ATO), her terrific new solo album. For the next 70-odd minutes, the audience eagerly complied, with supportive shouts, loving murmurs, strategic clapping and general good vibes. And the Alabama Shakes/Bermuda Triangle/Thunderbitch frontwoman kept up her part of the bargain, putting her heart and soul into every song.
From the joyful “Georgia” and a funktastic take on Prince’s “The Breakdown” to a soulful version of Jackie Wilson’s “Higher And Higher” and the scarred-but-strong “Goat Head” to the righteous “13th Century Metal” and the self-affirming “Run To Me,” Howard turned a lifetime’s worth of anguish, ecstasy and doubt into catharsis, healing and beauty.
Opener Charlie Bereal blessed the Fillmore with funk, soul and rock ‘n’ roll of his own (my favorite was “Brand New”), and by the end of his set, the warm crowd welcomed him as an honorary Philadelphian. (Being married to a Philly girl no doubt helped.)
—M.J. Fine; photos by Chris Sikich