Review by Zyllah Moranne-Brown  with photography by Ken Harrison

How times flies. It’s been 20 years since these guys brought their brand of psychedelic pop rock to the airwaves, on the crest of the Brit-pop wave, one of the more eccentric and somewhat mystical of the bands of the time. A raft of top #10 hits and a #1 album – Kula Shaker an in town tonight – to celebrate those twenty years ago when that album ‘K’ was riding high.

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As the crowd begin to build in the O2 Institute tonight first up and un stage are Rudy Warman and the Heavy Weather. In their own words, they are an “original band from Southern England. Everything we do is homemade. This has led to create a style of music that people seem to love. Feel free to join us in our adventure of discovery.”

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Lead singer and guitarist Rudy, bass player Shane and drummer Zenon bring their own version of rock n’ roll psychedelic blues. The be-hatted jam on down – think Deep Purple ‘Smoke on the Water’ with a Hawkwind-esque vibe man.  Alllllllriiiiiight dude. Rock n’ roll with a definite peace love and understanding. They go down well, and well worth keeping an eye out for…..

As the place is now indeed packed out, the punters have definitely turned out for this one, around 20 minutes to 9, Crispian Mills and the boys of Kula Shaker version 2016 take to the stage. The youthful Mills and Alonza Bevan on Bass, Paul Winterhart on drums and newbie Harry Broadbent on keyboards, are here to bring their esoteric psychedelic riffs, full of Eastern mysticism….

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While Kula Shaker split in ’97, they’ve returned sporadically over the years, with new albums and gigs, and in 2016 released their fifth, and well received, album ‘K 2.0.’ Tonight’s gig is part of a mostly sold out European tour.

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They start off tonight’s proceedings with a classic – not their, but of The Beatles. “It was twenty years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play….” ‘Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band’.

Mills: “Thank u for coming to see us boys and girls. It’s our birthday. We’re playing ‘K’ tonight…we’re letting the past onto the present…..opening a rift in space and time…..count down from 5….” and the crowd duly do and where on Kula Shaker’s psychedelic ride….. ‘Hey Dude.’  Starting off on Side A (think vinyl here) we take the trip through the first side…..

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Mills as every is energetic, totally enthralled and jamming on down with the rest of the boys. Side over – we get an intermission of some B sides (from singles not the album!), with ‘Under the Hammer’, ‘Shower Your Love’ and ‘Gokula.’

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The bands interest in Indian music, culture and mysticism comes flooding through their set in psychedelic waves – as now we’re onto Side B (bank to vinyl and yes off ‘K’).  ‘Tattva’ features lyrics in Sanskrit…. sing along “Tattva, acintya bheda bheda tattva…” and the band rolls and rolls. And the clear highlight of this set – the crowd goes mad and hey let’s go for it… ‘Hush.’ Massive cheers, and quick break and the psychedelic magically mystery tour continues.

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Couple of newbies from ‘K 2.0′ – ’33 Crows’ and ‘Great Hosannah’ set completed with ‘Govinda’ – the crowd swaying, Mills conducting, and somehow we’re singing the rising Sanskrit again … “Govinda Jaya Jaya, Gopala Jaya Jaya, Radha-ramanahari, Govinda Jaya Jaya…’

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Kula Shaker, out of time in their prime, a band that found success on the back of Brit-pop a scene inspired by the past, remain full of energy, passion, maintaining that Eastern mysticism in their lyrics, and a rising, engaging, trance-like ability to enthrall the fans. Crispian and co. clearly enjoyed tonight’s gig, as did the fans and it sounds like they’ll be back, once again breaking the genre and ‘currency’ rules and “….opening a rift in space and time.”

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Setlist:
Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
Hey Dude
Knight on the Town
Temple of Everlasting Light
Smart dogs
Magic Theatre
Into the Deep
Under the Hammer
Shower Your Love
Gokula
Sleeping Jiva
Narayana/Tattva
Grateful When You’re Dead / Jerry was There
303
Start All Over
Hollow man
Hush

Encore:
33 Crows
Infinite Sun
Great Hosannah
Govinda

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Listening:
K [1996]
K 2.0 [2016]

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