Allo Darlin’, Portland Arms, Cambridge, 24 July 2014

An evening of Summer Indie-pop at the Portland opened appropriately with Cambridge based trio The Centimes. They have a distinctive original sound as I have said in previous reviews and the long instrumental introduction to opener ‘Stormy Tuesday’ laid down the template of solid drumming and bass with that stylish 12-string guitar jangling above. ‘La La Land’ showcased a bit of funk guitar and ‘I’m Fine’ and ‘Local Pool’ impressed as usual with strong vocal performances. The venue had filled up rapidly during the set and the band were well received. I look forward to the debut album, with some extra input spice added by The Organ Grinders Monkey..

Next on were the six members of Model Village, an Indie Folk band I had last seen at The Junction as support for Half Man Half Biscuit, not the most likely combination?! On that occasion there was more of an acoustic feel but they have a varying line-up and last night it was mainly electric guitar with excellent piano contributions and some welcome short bursts of harmonica. They also have the options that three different lead singers give and the musical styles vary greatly, from the up tempo opening song ‘Splitting The Risk’ to the mellow ‘Stockholm’ and the emotive ‘Red Chair’. It was a confident and enjoyable performance setting the tone for the headliners..

Allo Darlin’ are a London-based four piece formed in 2010, fronted by Elizabeth Morris. They play catchy guitar based Indie-pop, with involving lyrics drawing on human relationship dilemmas, cultural references (‘Woody Allen’, unfortunately omitted tonight) and reminiscences of Australia. It was generally an up-beat summer sound but listen to the lyrics carefully, there is plenty of darkness and light. The sound quality and instrumental playing were top-notch, like the Smiths with ukulele added to give an extra dimension of rhythm. There were two great interplay songs between male and female vocals, ‘Bright Eyes’ and the exquisite oldie ‘Dreaming’, three and a bit minutes of pop perfection…

The long set was engaging and varied, tracks from the forthcoming album ‘We Come From the Same Place’ to be released in October 2014 slotted in nicely with the more familiar songs. The band seemed very pleased to hear the audience singing along and there was a clever encore, ‘Kiss Your Lips’ segueing into the Paul Simon song ‘You Can Call Me Al’ (including that fast bass run..). It was a great show and from speaking to the band afterwards, the friendly onstage personas are all genuine!


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