Even with pop diva Christina Aguilera performing Friday at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Fesival’s Acura Stage, force of nature Brittany Howard owned the Samsung Galaxy Stage on the opposite side of the Fair Grounds.
Howard is the powerhouse frontwoman of Alabama Shakes. A huge crowd assembled at the Samsung Galaxy Stage to hear the band’s Muscle Shoals- and Memphis-inspired soul and vintage rock ’n’ roll-based music.
As fiery and fun as Alabama Shakes’ up-tempo material was, Howard especially excelled in singing emotionally pitched, soul-powered ballads.
A half-hour into the group’s 90-minute performance, she put her candy green Gibson SG electric guitar down and picked up a microphone.
Holding the mike in her right hand, Howard paced the stage. She emphasized the lyrics’ emotion, thrusting her free left hand forward. And she repeated words and phrases, just as soul men Otis Redding and Solomon Burke did in the ’60s.
“Be all mine! Be all mine! Be all mine!” she commanded. “I’m always gonna treat you right!”
Speaking to the crowd between songs, Howard said, “People say I don’t talk a lot on stage. … But it’s not because I don’t love you.” Instead, she explained, she says what she has to say in songs.
The singer had affectionate words for New Orleans, too.
“I love your hometown,” she said. “Every time I come here, I feel like I learn something new.”