Two sets of 45 minutes promised much, but did the fledging group have any material to sustain 90 minutes showtime?
It has been a mini-journey for me and the band having seen the band for the very first time in May this year at the Open Stage @ *scape and having gotten to know them as friends and observing their musical development in the last five months.
It's no secret that I love Allura as a band and as people but that never taints the objectivity of my assessments of their value and potential and it pleases me no end, when others "get" them as well, which acts as an independent affirmation of my opinion.
That said, the first set was tentative in parts, Inch's voice was rough in spots and she didn't quite hit the high notes in Closure, for example and there were bum notes, out of tune strings, out of sync timings etc. Although, throughout that whole first set, Mark John was in fine form - a true blue guitar hero.
The highlight of that first set had to be the debut of Gamajazillion (Thanks, Mark) and it was an impressive one. The chrous especially had a distinctive chord sequence that pleased my melody g-spot no end... a cool hybrid of Who/U2 chord voicings and modern alternative vibes.
I must say that Sangwich is beginning to wear a little, its contrived nature going against the grain of the organic underpinnings of most of Allura's material. It's almost seems like the band are pandering to the moshers with its call and response section, which falls flat and Inch sounds like she's hectoring - never a good sign.
So perhaps it was ironic that the best performance of that first set was a cover, U2's Sunday Bloody Sunday, which was delivered with panache and guts. I think I got chills listening to it and the sparse crowd milling at the stage certainly enjoyed it...
It rained briefly in the interim period and so the second set started late, almost at 10.15 pm and with the seats wet, most of us stood at the stage to bask in the music. Noticably, the band was tigther and in better form. Inch's voice was almost perfect and hardly faltered. In fact, I must say that she gave a performance that was mesmerising and left me smiling. I tell you when that little girl turns it on, there are very few young performers who can match her intensity, energy and showmanship.
Same was true for the entire band, playing like there was no tomorrow (although the band did repeat songs from the earlier set - thankfully, no Sangwich - and it was cool to hear Closure and Gamajazillion again...) and blessing the crowd with an incendiary Ladeda, which has become their signature song.
Looking around, it was obvious that there were many were sharing my feelings about the band, singing (even shouting) along, bopping and stomping to the sonic calvacade.
A truimphant gig!!!
Whew! A great way to end an otherwise disappointing week.
...still there's more...