KULA SHAKER + BLUE VIOLET – CHALK, BRIGHTON 31.1.23
There’s palpable excitement in the air tonight as Chalk braces itself for an onslaught of classic Britpop from a band who artfully blend 60s folk-pop with 70s prog-psych and lace it liberally with Eastern influences.
Kula Shaker are back, and the room fills quickly with fans keen to bag a front-row position for Crispian Mills and Co.
This is great news for Blue Violet, who take point as the support act tonight.
It’s gentle stuff by comparison to the ebullient joyfulness that Kula Shaker bring to a stage – but husband and wife duo Sam and Sarah Gotley deliver some beautifully dark/sweet vocals that sometimes come belting out of nowhere to deliver a wall of sound that comes as a surprise following the mellow intros that most of their songs carry through to the end.
‘Halo’ is one such gem, and it manages to segue from 40s nightclub lounge-singer to howling psycho-grunge without skipping a beat.
Really solid stuff from a band we’ll definitely be watching out for in the future.
As the changeover takes place and the stage is reset for Kula Shaker, the venue begins to creak at the seams with yet another wave of fans – and it’s great to see that the generations are mingling freely, as old-school stalwarts rub shoulders with youthful types who ought to know better than to be out on a school night.
The lights drop, the lights come up, and ‘Hey Dude’s’ vibrato immediately recognisable guitar intro and Oasis-esque vocals bring the room to an instant boil.
Kula Shaker may be no spring chickens, but they start hard and fast and the rest of the set is an unrelentingly energetic affair that often presses the accelerator even closer to the floor, but never falls below the speed threshold set by the opening number.
Slipping deftly between stone-cold classics and choice tracks from the recently released concept album – the bombastically, if ironically, titled ‘1st Eternal Church of Eternal Love (And Free Hugs)’ – the band demonstrate that not only have they not lost the energy of youth, but they also retain the creativity and integrity that many acts squander and leave behind as they rest on the laurels of their past success.
Anyone who last saw Kula Shaker two decades ago and who was in the room tonight will not have seen any difference except a few more laughter wrinkle lines around Crispian’s brightly shining eyes.
What remains a constant throughout the band’s many years of making music is their perfect grasp of how to create a tapestry of sound that is the musical production equivalent of a painting created out of multiple materials and styles.
Raga sits neatly and unobtrusively alongside indie guitar riffs and Doors keyboard parts, at the same time as 70s disco and classic rock shake hands but jockey for attention in the mix – all whilst psychedelic lyrical twists throw shapes in the spotlight.
It’s fair to say that ‘Tattva’, ‘Hush’ and the final encore of ‘Govinda’ grab the prizes for the loudest and most rapturous applause of the night, but tracks from the new album don’t lag that far behind, and the overall vibe is of a gig that burns fast and bright from start to finish with every member of the audience taking home a memory to cherish for years to come.
Kula Shaker setlist:
(Intro tape) ‘Radhe Radhe’
‘Sound Of Drums’
‘Whatever It Is (I’m Against It)’
‘Temple Of Everlasting Light’
‘Grateful When You’re Dead’ / ‘Jerry Was There’
‘Gimme Some Truth’ (John Lennon cover)
‘Farewell Beautiful Dreamer’
‘Into The Deep’
‘I Don’t Want To Pay My Taxes’
‘Song Of Love’ / ‘Narayana’
‘Hush’ (Joe South cover)