SUNDARA Karma returned to Manchester on Thursday 16 February to play their biggest sell-out show in the city at the Albert Hall.
Playing at the Soup Kitchen just over a year ago, the band four-piece band, haling from Reading, have since released their debut album, ‘Youth is ever only fun in retrospect,’ catapulting them onto the huge stage at the historically restored Wesleyan Chapel.
Liverpool lads, The Night Café, opened the evening with their indie pop tunes way beyond their years. Appealing to a younger audience, the band was the perfect opener for Sundara Karma, who appears to attract an extremely younger teen-dominated audience.
The band were able to expose their dynamics, with their dreamy indie melodies sending the crowd in the centre of the floor pogo-ing, before transitioning into their slower track, Addicted, with complementing staccato guitar melodies.
Southern trio, Blaenavon, were next to attempt to impress the audience. As the younger teens lingered downstairs, older fans sauntered up to the balcony- probably afraid to hurt any youngsters in their mosh-pits…
Filling their set with a darker tone than The Night Café’s set, the band still encouraged mosh-pits with their gothic synths and eerie yet enticing vocals.
Their sullen tracks almost certainly work the crowd, with My Bark Is Your Bite, receiving the best reception during their support slot- a perfect representation of morose pop.
As typical school-disco tracks filled the Albert Hall following Blaenavon’s set, it wasn’t long before the lights dimmed, and Gwen Steffani’s Hollaback engulfed the venue.
Front man, Oscar Lulu embarked upon the stage with a glitter-coated torso, alongside fellow band members, Dom Cordell (bassist), Ally Baty (guitarist) and Haydn Ashley (drummer).
The band plunged straight into their album-titled track, A Young Understanding. A song very relevant to many of the audience, the track resulted in a pogo-ing from the young audience and gave a taste of the energy that would continue to fill the rest of the evening.
Olympia, a track taken from the bands debut album played next, before the band played Freshbloom, taken from their first EP.
A peculiar start to their set- playing lesser-known tracks to warm up their audience, the crowd’s reaction proved this was no issue, barely stopping for air in-between.
As the gig progressed, it became evident that Sundara Karma had cleverly divided their setlist- sandwiching popular tracks with lesser-known tracks from their debut album.
This kept the audience engaged with their performance throughout, reeling them in at every given opportunity.
Flame and Vivienne, two of the bands most popular tracks, played early on in the set. Packed full of character and memorable lyrics, the indie melodies are filled with catchy riffs and ‘anthemic’ qualities.
The crowd then spiralled into a pleasantly surprised funky frenzy, as the band played their Luther Vandross cover of Never Too Much, adding a few inflections of their own.
Following the initial surprise of the cover, the back end became a little bit of a lull for the younger crowd who were unfamiliar with the soulful track. It was here that the band needed to play a song to pick it’s performance back up.
Lose The Feeling played next, but with it being a weaker track off their latest album, it didn’t succeed in picking the audience back up, as youngsters attempted and failed to create mosh pits.
The hypnotising track, Indigo Puff then seemed to assist in grasping the audience’s attention once again, before erupting upon hearing the initial riffs of She Said.
The lyrics in She Said provide many relatable situations to their fans, such as: “When all the drink has been drunk, when all the flirting has fumbled, then we might ask ourselves; should I have gone to the club?”
As a result of their relatable lyrics, uplifting riffs and catchy choruses, the band can draw in crowds of naïve and innocent teenagers in their masses.
Ending their set on Happy Family, a sense of warmth radiated around the room, through the band members and through members of the audience.
Strangers were hoisting each other onto their friends’ shoulders, and an ambitious teen was hoisted up so he appeared to be standing on shoulders. This really would be a memorable moment to reflect back on in years to come.
Returning for an encore, the band played Deep Relief, before masses of confetti showered the audience during Loveblood, whilst the crowd batted around dozens of coloured inflatable balloons.
Ending on the energy-fuelled Loveblood, the band delivered a wonderful performance once again, proving their brilliant ability to work an audience with their stage presence, and their ability to write uplifting and anthemic tracks one after another.