Say Psych: Live Review: The Black Angels @ New Century, Manchester 02.03.2023

The Black Angels are a band who really need no introduction. Formed in 2004, they have become a mainstay in the psychedelic scene and amassed a huge following worldwide. The Austin, Texas band took their name from The Velvet Underground’s ‘The Black Angel’s Death Song’ but that’s probably where the similarities end. Having been unusually quiet for a while, they released their latest LP Wilderness of Mirrors in September 2022 and announced a tour not long after, pleasing fans and allowing a suitable period of hype to build.

Tonight, they take to the stage of New Century, Manchester. After years of hiding in plain sight, the rebirth of New Century brings a piece of Manchester’s musical heritage back to life for a new generation. With its original sprung dance floor, disco ceiling and state of the art sound system, the hall is now a must visit venue for music fans.

They open with crowd pleaser ‘You on the Run’ from 2008’s Directions to See a Ghost and its immediately evident despite their absence, this band have still got that spark. They then play through three from the latest LP, ‘El Jardin’, ‘Icon’ and ‘History of the Future’ and whilst its clear that the crowd don’t know these tracks as well, they are delivered so well you cannot help be drawn in. There is a magnetism which exudes from the stage, accompanied by the stunning light show that people are like moths to the flame. ‘Manipulation’ is from 2006’s incredible Passover LP and then ‘Firefly’, ‘Without A Trace’ and ‘A Walk on the Outside’ are back to the present. You’d be forgiven for getting a bit of whiplash in this set, especially since its delivered rapidly with limited crowd interaction as they move to fire through ‘The Prodigal Son’ from Passover and ‘Entrance Song’ from 2010’s Phosphene Dream. A big cheer goes up for both ‘Mission District’ from Directions to See a Ghost and ‘Black Grease’ from Passover. They conclude with the ridiculously catchy ‘Empires Falling’ and fans are left wanting more and whooping happily.

Now, there is not many bands who can get away with doing an encore almost as long as their set, The Black Angels are possibly one of them and we are treated to an extra eight, yes eight, tracks. As well as a few tracks from Wilderness of Mirrors such as the title track and ‘Vermillion Eyes’ there is fan favourites such as ‘Bloodhounds on my Trail’ and ‘Yellow Elevator #2’. They end with the brilliant combination of ‘Young Men Dead’ and ‘Haunting at 1300 McKinley’ and there is not a single person in the packed venue who can say they haven’t got their monies worth.

In a genre that’s oversaturated and not always done well, The Black Angels still stand supreme and can draw the crowds, long may they reign.  

Previous Gallery and Set-list: David Gray - The National Concert Hall, Dublin 04.03.2023
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