Considered by many these days to be among the top tier of neo-psychedelic bands, there are some who look no higher than The Black Angels. Well worthy of this type of lofty praise, their style of late night psychedelia is good enough to impress on first listen – or to put it bluntly, blow your f***ing mind.  After being exposed to the hype surrounding this band, I was spiraled into repeated listenings, leading to new insights and an even greater respect for Texas (as if 13th Floor Elevators didn’t set that bar high enough already). And if the influences weren’t blatantly obvious, deriving their name from The Velvet Underground’s ‘The Black Angel’s Death Song’, there’s no real need to list the comparatives – The Black Angels speak for themselves.

The first track of the night ‘Mission District’ is immediately dominated by Steph Bailey on drums and backed by a slowly played melodic introduction by the rest of the band. This song was chosen wisely as an opener,  heavily rooted in bluesy improvisation, developing with achy fuzz bits and thought-filled changes that enhance the atmosphere of Gorilla as it breathes smoke into the beginning of the set.

Oozing the odd silence is ‘Yellow # 2′. While directed towards poppy organ arrangements, the psychedelic guitars in this track uplift during the halfway mark, heavily echoing the forefathers of 60s harmony. Drifting back to 2010, Phosphene Dream‘s ‘Entrance Song’ is an emblematic skyscraper of their signature sound.

A testament to the power of The Black Angels tonight is ‘Young Men Dead’. With the strobe machine flickering incandescently to a reflection of the band that mirrors their every move, the song graduates with honours in psychedelics, both blinding the audience with visuals and a diagnosed head case of audio trauma. The heaviness of the riffs are so precise, holding hands with increasing theatrical aspects on the screen behind them, spinning in and out like a kaleidoscope on speed.

A crowd of dedicated Mancs sing “It’s hard to kill when you don’t know which side you’re on” during ‘Broken Soldier’, replacing Alex Maas’ vocals with their own input while somehow intensifying the sound of Christian Bland’s convincingly spaced out riffs. Expecting a set of only an hour, we were given 90 minutes of pure, psych flavour. An encore with ‘Black Isn’t Black’ surprises those half out the door, as a fight that broke out earlier in the night results with a group of fans catching the eye of the band by sitting on the floor of the caved mosh pit, security watching them with a hawk eye.

An affirmation strongly stated would say that this set was brill – beyond brill. The highlights are too many, with almost no pauses between songs. There was no break needed, whether it was seen as one long piece of work or a compilation of albums previous, The Black Angels are heaven sent with their array of sinister songwriting. The evolution of psych continues with bands like this, and tonight was the perfect prequel to next weekend’s trip-induced worship haven, Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia.

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Brit Jean

I'm known as Gigs Editor over here at Silent Radio HQ. I've been music blogging and writing in Manchester for the past few years after graduating with a Literature degree back home in Canada. Never have I experienced a city quite like Manchester - so many great gigs and so little time! In 2014 I started an Independent Record label, Blak Hand Records with my best mate, and we aim to put out some of our favourite garage rock and psychedelic artists from both Liverpool and Manchester. We're always looking for contributors so if you love music and writing, get in touch with us at Silent Radio! x