Alberta Cross | 11.06 | New York City

Words by: Nick D'amore

Alberta Cross :: 11.06.09 :: Mercury Lounge :: New York, NY

Stakee - Alberta Cross
Part rock show, part revival. That was the scene onstage during Alberta Cross' set at Mercury Lounge in downtown New York City last Friday. Guitarist-vocalist Petter Ericson Stakee, clean-shaven and resembling a young Mick Fleetwood in a black vest, white shirt, and black scarecrow hat, led the band through a tight set that opened strong and segued into some good mid-tempo grooves before closing with "ATX," a powerful tune that prominently showcased the band's gospel leanings.

Stakee is the centerpiece of Alberta Cross, his high-toned, soulful wail reminiscent of Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses and The Verve's Richard Ashcroft, but grittier and blusier. His lanky frame moves endlessly to the music, helping drive the band's big, thick heartbeat rhythms.

Though one of the earlier sets of the night, Alberta Cross – also featuring bassist Terry Wolfers, guitarist Sam Kearney, drummer Austin Beede, and keyboardist Alec Higgins – played to a sizable, enthusiastic and responsive crowd, moving from the infectious opener to slower blues-soaked offerings. The band effortlessly locked into simple, punchy rhythms, effectively setting moody and tasteful backdrops for Stakee's tuneful, expressive voice.

The band's final song was its most inspired, delving deeper into the spiritual, gospel influences hinted at throughout the set. Kearney moved to stage left, adding some great organ flourishes to Higgins' piano playing; Wolfers and Beede applied a simple and sparse rhythmic foundation. With a tambourine in his right hand and eyes closed, Stakee sang a haunting melody, his left hand rising with his voice, looking every bit the gospel preacher. After reaching its peak, the song broke back down to just handclapping and a mournful "ooh" melody from Stakee and Wolfers, leaving many in the crowd transfixed.

Incorporating gospel roots into their version of the heavy blues-rock sound, Alberta Cross are a consistently solid and enjoyable, sometimes stirring, live act. For 30 minutes on Friday night, the band turned the dark, cramped confines of Mercury Lounge into a small Southern chapel on a Sunday morning bursting with song.

Alberta Cross :: 11.06.09 :: Mercury Lounge :: New York, NY
Taking Control, Ramble, Old Man Chicago, Leave Us and Forgive Us, Song Three Blues, Rise From The Shadows, ATX

Alberta Cross tour dates available here. For more on Alberta Cross see our recent interview with Petter Ericson Stakee here.

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[Published on: 11/11/09]

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