Reviews: Alabama Shakes, Santana, Lucinda Williams & More

This week’s compilation of reviews from music critics across the U.S. features performances by Alabama Shakes in Portland, Maine;

Alabama Shakes
Joseph Longo / Invision / AP
– Alabama Shakes
Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes performs on the first day of Arroyo Seco Music Festival at the Brookside Golf Course in Pasadena, Calif., June 24.

Alabama Shakes @ Thompson’s Point in Portland, Maine, Aug. 5 – “Many people came to catch a glimpse of frontwoman Brittany Howard, a born rock star who is inching near icon status before her 30th birthday. She didn’t disappoint them, as she exuded style and personality to fill a concert space twice as big, and delivered a riveting performance that showed off both her singing and her guitar chops.” – Robert Ker / Portland Press Herald 

Belle and Sebastian @ Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, Aug. 6 – “The band embraces their own nerdiness, though, reinforced with the twee visuals that accompanied ‘Little Lou, Ugly Jack, and Prophet John’ and ‘Perfect Couples.’ Yet Belle & Sebastian is so earnest, so endearingly sweet and jolly that their performance convinces you to leave your cynicism behind – a difficult feat, indeed, particularly in Hollywood.” – Erin Nyren / Variety 

Bruno Mars @ Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minn., Aug. 5 – “On Saturday night, a performer small in stature but enormous in charisma threw a party to end all parties for a sold-out crowd of more than 17,000 at Xcel Energy Center, keeping the place hopping with a barrage of infectious jams and lavish ballads that cherry-picked the best bits from decades’ worth of rock, pop, R&B, disco and hip-hop. While that could very well describe the late, great Prince, in this case it refers to 31-year-old Honolulu native Bruno Mars …” – Ross Raihala, Pioneer Press 

Santana @ Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis, July 12 – “There are concerts, and then there are concerts. Most performances are fun and make for a great night, but there’s something about seeing a musical legend that transcends the typical concert experience. There’s the expectation that what you’re about to see will be surreal, even life-changing for some. Santana is one of those artists.” – Jennifer Manjarez / Playback STL

Lucinda Williams @ Valley Dale Ballroom in Columbus, Ohio, Aug. 8 – “Lucinda Williams’ songs are so incisive and well-crafted they nearly sing themselves, reaching emotional undercurrents apart from their delivery. As her set in the Valley Dale Ballroom on Tuesday night illustrated, though, the most moving these days are those with specific personal connections. When she appeared to relish reaching into those memories, she elevated an evening filled with terrific songs to one punctuated by magic moments.” – Curtis Schieber / The Columbus Dispatch