Ocean Alley have travelled halfway across the world from Australian capital Sydney for their UK tour, and luckily I got tickets for their show at Gorilla in Manchester on August 29th. The show featured a range of songs from their very first EP Yellow Mellow, up to their newest single Infinity; assuring that each audience member, whether a fan of their old or new material, would have an enjoyable experience.
As I arrived at the venue I eagerly scuttled to the merch table, buying a khaki green t-shirt with ‘Ocean Alley’ printed on. Feeling like I was 14 again, buying every piece of merchandise I could, I banked my spot at the front and middle; making sure I had the best view for one of my favourite bands. As I was waiting for them to come on I got chatting to a couple of Aussie lads who were visiting a family friend in Manchester, and coincidentally their favourite native band was playing in the same city. With more than enough beers already consumed they repeatedly told me about how amazing Ocean Alley were live, which just made me more excited for them to come on.
‘When they come back, they’ll be playing an even bigger room, with more cities on the tour poster.’
The lights went down and Ocean Alley came out, opening the show with Corduroy, the first track from their recent album Chiaroscuro. The reverb heavy guitar surrounded the room, creating this eerie mellow feeling before the drums finally kicked in and exploded through the speakers which got the crowd grooving. Lead singer Baden Donegal’s (dare I say pitch perfect) vocals entered and was nearly drowned out by the singing of the crowd - a small venue, a massive voice.
Following Corduroy and Bones, they played their hit from the first EP, named Yellow Mellow. This song was obviously a fan favourite as the Australian lads I mentioned previously grabbed one another and cheered, as did a couple in front of me and instantly began to dance with one another. As a band with established routes in reggae, this song really does pay homage to that classic genre. The jumpy off-beat rhythm and staccato electric guitar kicked in and shifted the room’s mood from, intensely trying to sing every word and see those on stage, to smiling, grooving and just having a good time. This song was definitely a highlight of the night for me, it’s like I saw everyone’s troubles melt away as they smiled and grooved to the song.
The set continued and was full of great music and boogieing. The band played their two new singles Infinity and Stained Glass, which although new, were still received by an audience who knew the words. Baden Donegal started to reminisce about their first time in Manchester and how they played a tiny venue which he described as a “loft”. This, being their second time in the city, they’ve already moved to a bigger venue. And as this gig was sold out I’d imagine (hopefully) when they come back, they’ll be playing an even bigger room, with more cities on the tour poster. It was so nice to have this interaction between band and crowd, however unfortunately, it did not happen much. Other than this story and a few “thank you’s” the band didn’t really talk to the crowd. Not that it corrupted the whole set, I just think it could have created a better relationship between stage and floor if there were more interactions. Maybe the band were tired as it was nearing the last leg of the tour, or perhaps it’s just not their schtick?
'Reverb heavy guitar surrounded the room, creating this eerie mellow feeling before the drums finally kicked in and exploded through the speakers which got the crowd grooving.’
They ‘finished’ the set with hit single Confidence and left the stage. The crowd eager for more began chanting loudly “one more song” and eventually they came back out and we got treated to not one more song, but two, kicking off the encore with their famous cover of Baby Come Back by Player and ending with Knees which has those bittersweet tones of love, nostalgia and saying goodbye.
Ocean Alley have finished their UK & Europe tour now and don’t have any upcoming events in their diary. However with new music coming, and their status rising in the UK, I’m sure another tour wont be far behind.