Sundara Karma + Whenyoung @ O2 Institute Birmingham, UK – 10th April 2019

Review by Charlie Tennant, photography by Robert Barrett

The boys are back with an even more vivacious and experimental command.

The glam-some foursome return to stage with a collection of their most adventurous and sonically-challenging gems from their discography. Following the recent release of their latest album, ‘Ulfilas’ Alphabet’Sundara Karma proved they are capable of an even more conceptual feel, both musically and visually – moving more towards the ‘glam rock’ genre, the boys are demonstrating a beautiful fusion of music that feels like the lovechild of Bowie and Queen.

After seeing this band a handful of times in the last few years, my expectations of a solid and comfortable performance were set, but I was blown away by their latest live incarnation, to a degree of progression I have not experienced before.

Emerging onto stage through smoke and lights Sunny K set their audience dancing from the off, with their ambitious and fast-paced track, ‘Higher States’. With lead singer Oscar Pollock commanding an extremely powerful set, dressed in knee-high leather boots and a corset and the rest of the five-piece clad in glittery, lacey and floral outfits which I feel demonstrates the entire band’s increased confidence in themselves and in their lane in music.

In their somewhat familiar yet completely new sonic approach, Sundara Karma perform just a couple of their original rip-roaring indie hits, such as ‘Flame’ and ‘She Said’, with the crowd moshing and chanting for duration of most of the set. The band sound so much more complete and apply their newfound confidence to these original tracks, resulting in immense amounts of dancing, joyful energy being emitted throughout the Institute, just as much as the experience they now well known for providing.

Half way into the set, Pollock readies up at the keyboard and pleas the audience to “live in the moment”, admitting that it is something he hasn’t quite mastered yet. He jumps right into the debut single from their latest album, ‘Illusions’, creating the most euphoric vibe so far – Pollock and Co transport the room to a whole new dimension full of colour and happiness – the lush harmonies and washes of colour wrap the whole experience in a sense of comfort and daze which makes you want to dance the night away.

In becoming more adventurous with their sound, the boys demonstrate reminiscences of 70s and 80s rock, I even felt a little drop of a Pink Floyd ‘Animals’ reference at the start of the title track, ‘Ulfilas’ Alphabet’, proving that this is a band worth listening to, for all ages and tastes of music. Sundara Karma know that they are no longer bound by the boundaries of which indie music once bestowed upon them.

I am really looking forward to seeing what direction the act take next. If it’s anything like the leap they have taken to their sophomore album, we are in for a real treat. This a band who are unafraid to make bold statements – I think we’ll be seeing them tour arenas very soon.

Support act, Whenyoung had set the stage for the night with their confident and luscious smattering of songs almost reminiscent of the London alt-rock outfit, Wolf Alice. They had me in awe from start to finish, ending on an incredibly powerful track which left you craving more – they are definitely worth a listen.

(The original version of this article was first published on Gigjunkies

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