The Black Angels, Ron Gallo: O2 Ritz Manchester

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The Black Angels

The Black Angels

The Black Angels performed with an impressive arrangement at the O2 Ritz in Manchester, and Getintothis’ Lucy McLachlan was among the many taken into interstellar overdrive. 

The world is full of psychedelic themed music festivals at the moment which have been booming for a number of years now. The Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia being our local for this particular genre and also the last time the Black Angels graced us with their good vibes.

For the most part we can thank The Black Angels and their Austin Psych Fest, now Levitation, for the appearance of these great festivals. With it they were responsible for bringing the best in psychedelic music to the city that boasted some of the 60s finest musical minds such as the 13th Floor Elevators.

Following the band since their 2005 debut Passover, this writer still finds it a rare treat to see the Black Angels live. It seems to be a special occasion when the band come to town or at least in this case, the next town (city) over.

This time we’re at the O2 Ritz in Manchester arriving to a venue around half full. Ron Gallo plays to a pretty captivated audience, holding the room well and getting the audience in the mood for a night of mind-blowing proportions.

After much anticipation and a lot of gear set up, the Velvet Underground‘s Who Loves The Sun is heard and the guys and girl appear on stage to an explosion of cheers. What follows is an hour and a half of sensory overload.

Projections by the mighty Bob Mustachio flood the stage in bursts of colour and psychedelic geometric patterns, whilst strobe lights add to the experience that perhaps if we had the LSD, we’d be in one of Ken Kesey‘s Acid Tests.

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We’re treated to songs that span their five albums from the brand new Currency to the powerhouse of Black Grease. The sound is spot on and tight from a bunch of musicians that really know their shit.

Each song is instantly recognisable and it seems the crowd have been with them for the long haul, belting out the words to songs like Better Off Alone and Bad Vibrations.

Drummer Stephanie Bailey is positioned at the front of the stage, and rightly so, the backbone to the driving beats of Entrance Song, she powers through, a woman on a mission.

The rest of the band meanwhile spend the set swapping instruments for each song. We find ourselves counting guitars and basses enough to perhaps rival Sonic Youth or My Bloody Valentine‘s arsenal, though maybe not quite there yet. It’s an impressive arrangement but also incredibly flawless and a quick changeover to watch.

As the sound grows and melts together taking us into interstellar overdrive/ hyperdrive and the projections swirl all over, lights flashing around us it’s hard not to get lost in the drone and driving beats.

Half Believing seemed to be the song that connected the audience, it felt like everyone had their own interpretation of the lyrics resulting in a powerful sing along. Ending the set with a trio of Entrance Song, Bloodhounds On My Trail and Young Men Dead really got the room on their feet, the stage was saturated with coloured light and the room came alive. We hope that we’re not left waiting too long before the next run of shows or even, the next album.

Images by Getintothis’ Lucy McLachlan

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