The Black Angels used lights and a lot of hard rock to electrify the crowd at Newport Music Hall in Columbus April 17.
A capacity crowd enjoyed the concert, which saw the band use odd lighting in the background to excite the audience. The lighting used different colors, although it often went to black and white. Sometimes you saw images of the band on the wall, featuring odd expressions and sunglasses.
It was a night for the sitar, as well. We got our first look and listen from the Indian instrument when Elephant Stone, one of the opening acts performed. Stone’s front man, Rishi Dir, even sat in with the sitar on some of the Angels songs.
Earlier in the evening I had some reservations about the sitar. I remembered the weaker tracks on the Beatles Revolver and Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band albums featured George Harrison’s sitar playing.
Then I remembered good songs by the Beatles (“Norwegian Wood”) and the Rolling Stones (“Paint it Black” used the sitar, and I didn’t feel so bad about listening to the instrument. And it sounded better the more I heard it.
The band had a good hard rock sound throughout the night. Maas would alternate between playing guitar, keyboards and tambourine. It was a plus seeing keyboardist Kyle Hunt, wearing a Pink Floyd shirt, which also fit in with the retro quality of the evening.
A 60s sound was particularly present on “Telephone.” Sometimes the light show would go away, but it would return during the 90-minute set.
The crowd was lively even though the Angels didn’t start until 10 p.m. (maybe the Texas band thought they were still in the Central time zone). But it was worth the wait because of the relentless power, which accompanied the performance.
The music had sufficient variation. There was eerie keyboard playing on “Indigo Meadow.” The band would slow it down on “Yellow Elevator#2” and speed it up.
At one point the band sounded like the Doors. There’s some similarity to Jefferson Airplane, also.
After “Yellow Elevator#2” the band left the stage. But they came back for an encore. And they came back with Dir, who Maas expressed admiration for when it was all said and done.
It was a special night. I can’t recall a band playing with such abandon. They rocked so hard, but it never turned into noise. It left me wondering if the Angels can match such intensity on their albums. It’s a question worthy of exploration, since the strong set indicated they have a good song catalog, as well.
Adding to the length of the night was having two opening acts. Stone was first with a set, which started off laid back, but shifted into hard rock.
The Allah-Las came out with a sound, which hearkened back to the Animals on “Don’t You Forget It.” The band had a good sound throughout with instrumentals providing highlights throughout the performance. The music could sound like surf music at times.
Their playing was solid and the singing worked, too. “Catamaran” was the best track the Las played.