Live Review: Sundara Karma – Newcastle

Sundara Karma

3rd May 2019,  o2 Academy,  Newcastle

Words: Sammy Sadler
Photos: Callum Robinson

It’s been a good while since I last saw Sundara Karma and a lot has changed. I’m not just referring to just the change of my hair colour, I’m talking about the musical progression of the Reading outfit. They’ve ditched the long hair and moved into a style of their own – the difference between albums Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect and Ulfilas’ Alphabet is phenomenal – so I was desperate to see of any change in their live performance. And what a show it was.

As far as venues go, the O2 isn’t the best in Newcastle. However, it is one of the most exciting. I still get that giddiness that I did when I was younger every time I go in and get ready for a night of music and the majority of the time everyone is in great spirits.

Opening the night was my fave Teesside huns Llovers and their dreamy shoegaze-pop. Despite the nerves, the five-piece looked completely at home on the huge stage as they played to a pretty impressive size audience for that time of night. Prompting everyone to have a little sway along to Without You, Jack’s vocals were exposed just enough to echo around the huge room and it sounded so lush. As well as crowd-pleaser Feeling Sound with its twinkling synths and danceable melodies, the guys also sang Happy Birthday to embarrass Jack – you can tell the lads are all really good pals when they perform and their stage presence together is a treat to watch.

It’s clear Llovers have started to pull together a decent fanbase here in the region alone and they’ll be heading to Radio One’s Big Weekend later this month. With new music on the horizon, I urge you to keep an eye on them and get down to see them when you can, I know I will be.

Second up was allusinlove (formerly allusindrugs), who I haven’t listened to in forever. So long in fact that I didn’t even know who they were when they graced the stage. A lot heavier musically than the other acts on the bill, allusinlove should have been out of place but they really weren’t. Their crowd reaction was great and mosh pits immediately started to form from their first track.

Bordering on a sort of glam-rock style, allusinlove served up anthemic tunes aplenty with huge instrumentals- they really were the perfect band to get you jumping about and warmed up. All My Love sounded epic as screeching basslines packed a hefty punch All Good People had me desperate to get strutting around before jumping into any available moshpit. Boasting an unbelievably massive outro, I was super satisfied and so ready for the main act.

As headliners Sundara Karma took to the stage, I could feel a bubble of excitement inside of me ready to burst. I guess I’ll always be a fangirl at heart and I’m absolutely ok with that. Opening on Higher States, there was an explosion of appreciation from the crowd as each shimmery synth rained down on the audience.

Flame, Explore, She Said, Olympia and Loveblood all made it onto the setlist to the delight of us fans who’ve been around for a while now and gave me the chance to test out my vocal chords as I whirled around to each lyric. It’s difficult to choose a highlight of these tracks as they always sound so, so good live but I’m big on Explore at the minute. Having never appreciated it as much as the likes of Vivienne or Flame, to me it feels like a brand new tune. Also it has the kind of bridge that I’m obsessed with, passionate and almost dramatic to get you ready to belt out the chorus.

Little Smart Houses really shone a light on Sundara Karma’s musical change, reminding me of something you’d get from Madonna, the gorgeous Sweet Intentions left gorgeous soundscapes clinging to the air glittered with electronic beats and the funky Illusions which has the smoothest instrumental I’ve heard in a good while. Also the lyrics are fucking brilliant.

With a change both musically and in their appearance as well, there’s been a noticeable shift in Oscar as a frontman. He’s always been able to put on a show and with unique vocals that would have the best of them envious, he’s been a favourite frontman of mine for a while. But it’s as though he’s transformed into Bowie meets Paul Weller. Everything about the way he was on stage was captivating, from belting out Flame to taking to the keys for slower tracks- it felt like something you’d honestly see on the main stage late on at Glastonbury.

I’m already excited to catch Sundara Karma again, whenever that’ll be, and it’s so lush to see how far they’ve come from when we sat in the back of their tour van drinking warm beer and putting glitter on at Kendal Calling during an interview. See you at the barrier next time.


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