Kula Shaker - K Reincarnated
In 1995 at a tiny club in Yorkshire, I witnessed a heady mix of Indian sitar sounds, mystical inspired Sanskrit lyrics delivered by a very young ‘posh’ rock band. I could hardly see the stage through the dry ice and incense burning, but knew this sound was different from all the other Brit Pop fodder being fed to the kids at the time. That show is probably still in my top ten all time favourite gigs, and was the start of Kula Shaker’s dramatic rise to fame, such a short time between that show and the big festival appearances, million selling singles of ‘Tattva’ and ‘Govinda’. Both those tracks came from their celebrated album ‘K’ and that was now twenty years ago, several music generations have passed, and I’m here at Camden Roundhouse for a celebration of that time, and to hear some new stuff from their latest record called K2.0.
With the incense still burning and filling this room with smokey aromas, Crispian Mills leads the band on stage and with a quick thumbs up they launch into ‘Sound of Drums’ a superb opener, setting the scene for quite an energetic set. Mills is now in his mid forties but still looking spritely, not afraid to jump around this stage and shake his blonde locks around. Unlike another 90’s band I witnessed just before Christmas, Kula Shaker were going to work up a sweat tonight, and so were the audience, made up of mostly forty somethings nostalgically reliving their concert going past.
The setlist was carefully pieced together covering a reasonable span of time and throwing in the odd cover, such as Hawkwind’s ‘Hurry on Sundown’ given the Shaker twist of added Hammond and wah wah pedal, and sounding quite close to the other more classic cover of ‘Hush’ which came later in the set.
Teasing the crowd whilst keeping them happy with the hits, Mills introduced ‘303’ as a love song about a road, that road being the one to travel to Glastonbury, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they get to appear there again this year.
New songs ‘Infinite Sun’ and ‘Mountain Lifter’ keep the Indian psychedelic sitar rock fusion going, and they fit nicely with other more well know tracks from K - like ‘Grateful When You’re Dead’ and ‘Temple of Everlasting Light’. The latest record a deliberate attempt to hopefully follow in the same path as its successful brother.
‘Shower your Love’ is a break from the Bombay mix and together with ‘Ophelia’ and new song ’33 Crows’ bear more resemblance to a sixties Kinks, Beatles or even Dylan refrains, Mills not avoiding the opportunity to bust out the harmonica and play us a bit of melodic rock.
Once the opening of ‘108 Battles (Of the mind)' started we knew we were on the home straight and floodlights filled this venue with Mills throwing his guitar around like a person twenty years younger. The big guns came out and we had ‘Hush’ followed by ‘Tattva’.
‘Tattva’ was just bliss, as was the splendour of witnessing two thousand people singing “Acintya Bheda Bheda Tattva”, for all they knew it was actually a main course at the Aagrah restaurant down the road.
“Here’s a song we wrote when we were kids” Mills japes, followed by a full rock out of ‘Hey Dude’, crowd now fuelled and pumped ready for the encore.
An 18 song setlist which featured an assortment of tracks from all their albums complete with the expected psychedelic sounds, and Eastern mystic sights projected on to the 3 screens behind them, and even smells of a bygone era. Tonight they have re-energised memories and made new ones. ‘Govinda’ with its lyrics completely written in Sanskrit signalled the end of this show, and heralded a hopeful return of a band - often misunderstood, back to where they belong.