Brittany Howard Plays a Soulful Set and Calls for Unity at L.A. Show

Brittany Howard, the multi-talented singer-songwriter who fronts blues rock band Alabama Shakes, is currently on tour in promotion of her first solo album, “Jaime,” and Entertainment Voice was there for the first of her two shows at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. Howard kicked up the set with “He Loves Me,” a soulful and sensual love song. Next came “Georgia,” another sultry number, this one about infatuation. 

Howard’s set, which lasted about 75 minutes, seemed to fly by, not in the least due to Howard’s infectious energy and her enthusiasm for performing. The already pumped crowd absolutely went wild during her third song, “Stay High,” her biggest solo hit to date, when none other than actor/comedian/activist Terry Crews joined Howard onstage. In the life-affirming, slice-of-life music video for the song, Crews plays a factory worker returning home at the end of his workday, merrily singing the song on his way. At the Ace, he not only lip-synced alongside Howard, he also showed off some impressive dance moves. It was a joyous moment, as the mutual admiration between the two was apparent, especially when Crews bowed to Howard.

Though Howard is now a solo artist, by no means is she about hogging the spotlight. She let other members of her band to shine throughout the evening, most notably her organist and drummer, who both had lengthy solos. But Howard is just as memorizing stripped down as she is with a full band, as was made clear when she performed “Short and Sweet” with just her guitar. Another highlight of the evening was “Goat Head,” a song in which Howard sings about her biracial identity and dealing with the racism that was inflicted on her family during her childhood. She showed more of her vulnerable side during “Run to Me,” a deeply personal song written when she was feeling down and needed the push to keep going.

In addition to her own songs, Howard performed two covers, the first one being “The Breakdown,” a deep cut from Prince. The late singer’s presence seemed to run through her, especially when she hit those signature Prince high notes. Later, she performed the Beatles’ “Revolution,” putting a gospel spin on a classic that is as resonate today as ever. Indeed, Howard made it clear that evening that she is a force for positive change, calling on her fans to unite for the greater good. “We’re all brothers and sisters,” she said during “13th Century Metal.” “I don’t care what side [you’re on], blue, red. We’re all brothers and sisters.”

Brittany Howard performed Oct. 8 and Oct. 9 at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, CA.