Live Review: Sundara Karma – Liverpool

Sundara Karma

Mountford Hall, Liverpool, October 6th 2017

Words: Gary Lambert
Photos: Georgia Flynn


Sundara Karma at Liverpool Guild of Students, or Mountford Hall as anybody over thirty with a taste for proper names would know it.  For me, this was the big one.  This is the first time I have seen one of my Popped bands playing at a venue of this size.  Two hundred yards away is The Magnet where I first saw Oscar and the boys playing two years ago, almost to the day.  That has a capacity of 300 people, and there were nowhere near that many that night.  This gig had about 2,500 people watching them.  A lot more people have got on the Sundara Karma bandwagon, and strangely for a dedicated music snob I wasn’t feeling in the slightest annoyed that they were trying to steal my band.  I was so happy that the guys were able to generate such excitement in people.  There was definitely excitement in the air.  You could sense it in the heat coming from all the bodies squeezed in together.  You could hear it in the hubbub of conversation before anybody came on stage.  And I could feel it in the butterflies in my stomach as I was a bit nervous for the guys too.  Despite it being just a day at work for them doing what they do best, it was a special one for me.


Opening up the night was Willie J Healey.  Now this was a fairly unassuming set of slightly slower paced indie numbers which at first I thought was very average, but gradually as I settled in to the rhythm of his performance I found myself enjoying it more and more.  Without doing too much to grab the audience, the consistency and quality of the songcraft worked on the majority of the audience.  I reckon it will take a major change in his career for WJH to become a big hitter, but he is going to make music that people will listen to.  But I expect the listener to be sat on the couch rather than stood on a dance floor.


The Magic Gang are a far busier unit on stage than those who had been before, and instantly it got a reaction from the crowd.  I mean it isn’t normal in an indoor gig at a university in October for there to be several people sat on shoulders as the crowd bounces around them.  But from the moment The Magic Gang took to the stage the game was on.  I do like The Magic Gang even though they remind me of a number of bands who reached success around 2006-2010 when the geek chic indie scene made me seriously fall out of love with it.  Although Jack, the singer, disappointed me severely afterwards when I bumped into him and found out that they were not named after my favourite band of heroes from World War Two (seriously look up Jasper Maskelyne and The Magic Gang).  The reaction of the crowd to them excited me so much.  There is a real groundswell of support for young indie bands – and when the indie band are two hundred and fifty miles from home playing in front of 2,000+ people and getting that reaction it isn’t just their friends turning up.


Then it was time for Reading’s finest (although I will certainly say the same about The Amazons too) to take to the stage.  The roar was deafening, and the fact the band started with a new song showed that this is a ballsy, more grown up version of Sundara Karma.  Even the curious fashion sense shown in their new uniforms reflects this as we were given zero glimpses of Oscar’s torso during the night.  The band have tunes, fans, and confidence that they do not need to try to create teenage lust and the odd man crush.  It’s all about a full scale band performing well.


It almost sounds like there are two singers in Sundara Karma these days.  On the older tracks it is definitely Oscar, but on their new songs it sounds like a Bowie-inspired newcomer.  The best way I could describe the sound of these tunes is imagine David Bowie on karaoke singing The Best of Bruce Springsteen.  The description sounds horrendous, but it is actually fantastic.


Although this was a great celebration of a band and their fans, it was slightly marred for some people who had to deal with a few idiots motivated by a certain instant arsehole powder.  Enjoy your nights out, and if it takes whatever it takes so be it, but don’t start throwing punches purely because other gig goers are standing there.


The gig finished in awkward fashion though as somewhere a fire alarm was set off, and the band went off stage under advice.  But by the time they went off stage the fire alarm had been silenced so there were confused looks all round until the four piece returned to do their final two songs.


This is the end of the first stage of Sundara Karma, but there are no tears to be shed.  It’s only going to get better and better for them and their youthful fans.  It’s a young understanding.

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    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

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