When Albert Hammond, Jr. nonchalantly walks through the front door of Bowery Ballroom an hour before his set time on Monday night, the supposedly jaded crowd of hipsters, high school kids wearing Strokes patches and industry folk stiffens. Hammond, seemingly oblivious to the effect he has on the room, surveys the throng with an effortless smile and disappears into the backstage area of the hallowed and preternaturally hazy club.

To describe the reaction he receives as a hometown hero’s welcome is to put it mildly. Hammond, a California transplant, elicits a rapturous hello and plenty of “You’re the fucking man, Albert!” type affirmations. Ever the lackadaisical charmer, he smiles again, and says, “It’s nice to be home” before launching his thrilling hour-long set.

Addictive on wax, Yours to Keep earns further credence on stage. “Everybody Gets a Star” is peppy perfection, and “Call an Ambulance” turns into a knee-stomping, country-soaked good time. The Strokes-y “In Transit” inspires hand-clapping from the audience, trademark head-bobbing from Hammond, and contains the brilliantly petulant punch line of, “I’m not gonna change/til I want to”. 

Hammond’s Beach Boy-esque roots shine on “Holiday”,  a tune that perhaps best represents the vibe of the record itself (including the album cover): a return to good times, eschewing seriousness. A punchy cover of Frank Black’s “Old Black Dawning” precedes “Blue Skies”, a tender, plaintive ballad delivered underneath a disco ball with slow-dancing couples. “101″ generates a heavy push from the crowd, and the genuinely touching “Scared” gives way to a propulsive “Postal Blowfish”. To close, Hammond thanks the crowd for”making Monday not suck”, and sends us into the night with “Hard to Live in the City”, which feels sweetly ironic after such an electrifying gig, but somehow so appropriate. –Carrie Alison/Photo JCP