Allah-Las, Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, June 3
In a revamped fifties working men’s club at the end-road of an Islamic neighbourhood in a northern industrial city, the Brudenell, having hosted the likes of Wooden Shjips and Anton Newcombe, possessed both a timeless cultural diversity and music identity befitting any West Coast garage rock band. And the Allah-Las kindly brought the weather over with them, at the expense their support, the Furs, who while having much more depth live than their recorded versions suggest, could not compete as most preferred to stay outside with their pints on a summer evening crafted to worship the sun.
Allah-Las set-up was quite predictable: tubes and analog equipment abound to create the sixties sun-worn vintage sound characteristic of their two studio albums, which they recreated, somewhat inevitably, to a T, though in their undisturbed nonchalance the Allah-Las did at times make the effort to venture from their armchairs and experiment a little.
As the ba ba ba’s of “Buffalo Nickel” smacked of the British Invasion, echoing through the Brudenell, the music was at once both time-full and timeless, an outspoken fancy of the Allah-Las, although perhaps they feel the need to say so to counter being written off by critics as another knock-off revivalist band that isn’t quite as good as the real thing.
While it’s true that the Allah-Las get zero marks for innovation, that isn’t what they study: rather, it’s their immediate familiarity, Brian Jonestown Massacre-esque, that has them sweet to the tastes of most who listen, manifesting in a diverse crowd at the Brudenell; your revivalist hipsters and actually-been-there old-timers alike. But it’s the familiarity of the Allah-Las that makes such cultural abstractions irrelevant with regards to their likeability: “Sandy” saw the crowd full of good spirits, just as “Every Girl’s” ‘watch the way she walks/you know she’s the best girl on the block’ had all the boys and girls and older women and men and their imaginations dancing all the same.
Still, with their immediate familiarity the Allah-Las do not necessarily compromise intricacy; nor are they lazy with their live performances: just the easy-going chucks of “Follow You Down” floated beneath an uncannily familiar riff, sometime further into the night the Allah-Las classically harmonised a switch from “Had It All” to “No Werewolf”, with Miles Michaud’s characteristic guitar chucks making a pretty simple changeover in chord progression, while the lead guitar in Pedrum Siadiatian “No Werewolf” was more expertly integrated into “Follow You Down” five to ten seconds before Michaud made the change, with some aware of how they were mixing their tracks making it known with their cheers.
The night ended philosophically with “Better With Mine’s” ‘he told me always take some time just to wonder/and always come to question what you’re told/and to love without condition those who wander/for it’s they who’ll come to pave the higher road’ as the pints kept flowing and the crowd danced it in with the sun long set. Playing live, the Allah-Las at times found more room to manoeuvre within their own nonchalant production than anticipated, but apart from those brief moments they played very similar to their recorded versions—but though trying too hard isn’t their thing, and few of those who came may have been disappointed.