The guitarist distances himself from his band, The Strokes, with his solo performance
Over the past two years, Albert Hammond Jr. released an EP and then unveiled a third full-length album entitled Momentary Masters. In those 24 months, Hammond has performed in Montreal three times; he opened for both Jake Bugg in January 2014 and later Phoenix at Metropolis. But his POP Montreal show this past Saturday marked his first performance as a headlining act, as The Strokes guitarist attempts to distance himself from his bandmates and really establish himself as a solo performer.
For this year’s instalment of the ever-expanding music and arts festival, concertgoers packed into La Sala Rossa’s modestly-sized venue on St-Laurent Street. The room, characterized by its dim lighting and thick, sumptuous red curtains provided a perfectly intimate setting for the night’s two acts.
Taking the stage first was Brooklyn-based trio Prinze George, acting as a quartet for the night. Clad in mostly all-white attire, the collective pumped out a slew of synth-infused indie tracks, including “Upswing” off their self-titled EP that got the crowd moving on the rainy September Saturday evening.
Walking offstage, the lights dimmed a little more and the room packed in a little tighter. When the house lights finally went off completely, Hammond, dressed in a white t-shirt, red pants and black leather converse, along with his instrumental band, sauntered on stage as fans let out excited shrieks. He threw his fist in the air, and jumped right into the opening chords of “Rude Customer” from 2013’s AHJ, sending vibrations through the floor and into the walls of the Plateau venue.
With four records under his belt since his 2006 solo debut Yours To Keep, Hammond pulled mostly from his newer material. On the occasions where he played older crowd favourites like “101,” concertgoers sang along happily to the alt-rock ode to the West Coast American highway, and then to the eerily dreamy “GFC.”
Hammond later dove into one of his earliest tracks “In Transit,” a seemingly happy coincidence as a fan had yelled for him to play the song just moments before.
When the song was over, the drummer briefly walked offstage long enough for Hammond to get slightly visibly uncomfortable, affirming jokingly that “he was either puking, pissing, or taking a shit.”
With a laugh from the audience, someone took the opportunity to yell out aggressively, “play something from The Strokes!”
Gently brushing off the request with a laugh, Hammond replied that he couldn’t “dabble in that,” and proceeded to play material from his more recent albums.
Closing the hour-long set with “Rocket” from 2008’s ¿Cómo Te Llama?, Hammond walked offstage as the cheers of grateful fans trailed behind him. With this POP Montreal performance in the bag, Albert Hammond is no longer ‘in transit,’ and has established himself as a separate, and talented, musical entity.