Like a minstrel archangel from another dimension somewhere between heaven and hell, Allan Rayman supernaturally transformed an old stark L.A. ballroom into a mesmerizing sanctorum of musings, Tuesday, June 18th. On the cusp of summer solstice, a rather dank and dusky eve created the perfect backdrop for his musical manifestations.
Pre-show vibes were bustling and curious as Allan Rayman’s devotees gathered in front of a dark blank stage accompanied by a magicians podium. Propped front and center under a faded white spotlight, an illusionist appeared and took center stage as the crowd of inquiring minds hushed their chatter. He began his slight of hand gimmicks and conjuring’s and had captivated onlookers stunned and baffled for a good twenty minutes. Immediately following his closing ‘ala kazam’ and exit from the stage the FOH sound system boomed vintage country ditty’s like “Big Iron”, “A Hundred and Sixty Acres”, “Cool Water” and a few other Marty Robbins’ tunes.
The juxtapose of a mostly millennial alternative crowd clothed in the dim resonance of the room having just been bewildered by a magician and now trotting along on a dusty trail ride with a country western balladeer seemed fitting for the unpredictable show that was about to take place.
At 9:45pm the house lights finally faded and the energy swelled as the crowd pressed toward the stage to witness the emergence of the enigmatic music man. Donned in a thin gray t-shirt and well-worn jeans Allan Rayman appeared from the foggy wings moving indiscriminately to the heavy beat and guitar shred of the opening song, “Gun.” As he made his way to the mic and repeatedly scorched into it the lyric, “you wanna love me” he crossed his arms and looked into the sea of adoring eyes as if it were a dare. It seemed there were many who had accepted it.
I could not help but to strain to see whom the fantastic drummer, guitarist, and bassist were from which the powerfully plush tones were radiating, but alas I realized that live musicians were exempt from this live presentation. Though Allan would pick up an electric guitar in between a couple of songs, it never stayed in his hands any longer that a minute and subsequently napped on the stage for the most of the show.
“Word of Mouth,” my personal favorite, followed the opener. It is a soulful tune from Allan Rayman’s 2017 Courtney album, which highlights his sultry butterfly-flutter vibrato and refreshes the listener’s ears with an intermittent splash of a bluesy Stevie-Ray-Vaughan-esque guitar trill.
After a quick sip of water, his next song of the night was the mid-tempo, “Go My Way,” which was then followed by “Lucy To Tease” with an intro that included him mimicking riding a motorcycle, and a female voice-over sounding like a Mother saying to her underling, ”Suppers Ready!” He continued with the haunting “Graceland” which wove a velvet thread of a faint female voice speaking and laughing subtly under the ethereal guitar and drum overlay.
For the next five songs, Allan Rayman took us on a wild ride with surprising twists and turns, some of which took our collective breath away. For instance, the gloriously huge angels wings that he donned that make Victoria’s Secret’s angel wings looked plucked. The skit with him sitting alone at a table having an emotional conversation with himself over a bottle and two glasses of red wine enthralled us, and the closing song “Ducks on the Pond”, which instrumentally resembled a cooler close cousin of NIN’s, “Head Like a Hole,” was and is a really catchy tune.
Above the consistency throughout his three albums of perfectly fusing Alt. Rock with R&B sensibilities hovers an overtone of heart that speaks of an old soul. His voice is a savory stew of semblance of Tom Waits’ grit, Van Morrison’s styling and Leon Russell’s spirit, and if there was ever a recipe for sublime success, Allan Rayman has it crumbled and tucked safely under his proverbial wing.
All photos: Dulce Genesis Balandran for GUM