Galeforce winds and stormy skies have freakishly, and most likely temporarily, been replaced by something that resembles ‘summer’ in Manchester today. It must be the presence of the Allah-Las. This LA band have used their musical knowledge, honed from spending time together as record store employees, to come up with a pretty successful formula. Their 60’s psychedelic garage surf rock sound transports the mind to a cliched picturesque coastal location, free from (most of) life’s stresses, where any minor issue can be smoothed over by merrily singing about it.

The final tickets for tonight sold out in the few hours leading up to the gig – Manchester’s army of students are collectively celebrating the end of another academic year – those who aren’t staggering around Oxford Road dressed in Hawaiian skirts seem to all be in here. Familiar, slightly older faces from the Manchester psych scene are more than capable of competing, in terms of enthusiasm. From song one, the atmosphere is electric.

The opening chords of ‘Busman’s Holiday’ are like the snap of a hypnotists fingers to the audience, who have waited patiently. No time is needed to ease the crowd into this gig – the band don’t have to prove themselves to us or win us over, sonically prizing our stubborn crossed arms apart, song by song… everyone here gets it. Looking back I already see a sea of happy, sweaty, swaying, singing faces. If the lyrics are in doubt, we can always just join in with “Ahhhhh”, “Yeah Yeah” or “Ooooohhhh”… or as in ‘Buffalo Nickel’ – “Ba Ba Baaaa”.

The sound is no means perfect during the first half of the gig. Those sun-drenched, reverb heavy Fender chords should be tanning our skin, but a deep, flabby effect on the bass and vocals casts a cloud over the guitars, keys and bongos. Goodwill and familiarity carry them through, while the sound engineer receives a number of evil glares.



‘Sandy’ makes us all forget about that – after playing the first two chords, the crowd sing the first lines back to the band, unaccompanied. “Time after time girl…”. The six musicians share vocal responsibilities, switching instruments and maracas and tambourines from track to track, adding depth through their varied vocal styles. Instrumental ‘Sacred Sands’ is surprisingly a highlight for me – the melodies and layering of sounds carry the tune, which at no point suffers from the lack of a narrative… but then, ‘Catalina’ follows – it’s just such a perfectly formed song, brimming with sentimental, nostalgic lyrics.

Miles Michaud breaks a string and replaces it while the band fill. “Sometimes it goes wrong man”. ‘Artifact’ is yet another highlight, upping the tempo with a swinging 60’s London vibe – two long understated verses bring us to a thrilling chorus “on and on and on…” and finish with an epic guitar solo. I thought I must have heard the best moments of the night already, but then comes ‘Catamaran’. The whole room sways and a chorus of a few hundred voices rings out under the bright flashing lights. The lyrics couldn’t be more innocent – like a cool version of early work by The Beatles; “I wanna hold your hand”.

Cries for an encore are lead by a group of lads who vocally mimic the melody of the last tune, as if chanting it from a football terrace. Drummer Matthew Correia takes his turn at the front and sings while impressively wealding no less than 4 maracas. Miles returns to centre stage to sing ‘Every Girl’ with a tambourine and a relaxed gait, suggesting he’s satisfied with the crowd and the way things have gone tonight. The crowd are very satisfied. “Yeah, Yeah Yeah Yeah…”.

The Allah-Las two albums meander through a number of genre’s, sounding similar in vibe to bands such as Los Craters and Night Beats. Generally, the result is a warm, fuzzy, blissful feeling deep down inside. This is pure and honest escapism. There’s a time and a place for shoegaze, blues, prog and drone, but if you’re inclined at some point to sway towards an altogether more mellow and optimistic form of psych rock, look no further and let the good times roll.

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Peter Rea

I like to go see fresh new music at Manchester's superb selection of smaller venues, and then share my enthusiasm.