This gig proved to be a very early kick off for the Alabama 3 posse with the band taking to the stage promptly at 8.30pm.

The reason for the early start is because the premises transforms at 11 pm from a kickass rock n' roll venue to what used to be called a 'disco' for young people (formally 'kids').

It would be a fair assumption that more than a few of the punters packed into one of Belfast's best live music venues will have passed their children queuing to get in as they exited and made for home.

For both music players and punters are now of a certain age and while the band members appeared to have stripped much fitter than when the last visited these shores, their fayre was unfortunately not so lean.

Like a fine wine that has been matured for to long, the Alabama 3 sound has become somewhat flabby, overwrought and leaves a slightly sour taste in the mouth.

last year marked the 20th anniversary of their seminal breakthrough album Exile on Coldharbour Lane. Looking back with some cold hearted reflection can we say there has been any real progression?

And that's all very well and good. But for at least some of the crowd the blend of country, blues, electronic and spoken word styles is starting to wear a little thin.

Even an early run out Sopranos' theme tune Woke up this Morning failed to fire the starting pistol that would inject some life-force into what was a moribund dancefloor.

There are no surprises at an Alabama 3 gig. They trot through the favs and best tracks from the latest album release; interspersed with what must be presumed to be witty banter and monologues but are often rendered meaningless mouthing due to the inability of house audio equipment to transfer the words of wisdom to those in the venue.

Yes it was all professional, yes many of the songs are great and sure, they will always pull a crowd. But I just wonder if they are finally reaching the sell-by date. It is like being on a bender with your favourite beverage for a week. Eventually you get sick of it and don't want to even look at the bottle again.

Perhaps I just need to get on the wagon and out of Brixton for a while.

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