Kula Shaker at Alexandra Palace Theatre
Back after nearly six years, last night Kula Shaker shook the majestic Alexandra Palace Theatre with crystalline psych-rock bangers under peals of adoring screams.
The opener had the room captivated, grooving to 1996 hit single Hey Dude. Frontman Crispian Mills’s voice was on point, cutting through the dense but well-mixed instrumentation from the first note – despite his claims of a sore throat.
Bassist Alonza Bevan was star of the show, alongside the singer-guitarist, playing tuneful, rocky lines high up the fretboard in a feathered fedora and all-black magician’s outfit.
Quirky projections danced on the drumskin screen over the musicians’ heads throughout, from stained-glass mandalas through medieval radio towers and a pulsing Britpop mod emblem.
The band struggled to keep the crowd’s attention at times with shakier performances of some new tunes such as Love In Separation. Mills’s banter was friendly but sparse, much of the performative element relying on the video show and frequent guitar solos. “It’s very exciting to be back. We just felt like it was the right time. We have to get together more often like this!” he said, after a blistering rendition of Infinite Sun.
Though the weathered musicians played near flawlessly, with impassioned stage antics to boot, energy in the room waned with numerous folks heading out to get beers at slower moments.
The audience were turned into an angelic choir through the lilting folk melodies of Farewell Beautiful Dreamer from Kula Shaker’s 2022 album First Congregational Church of Eternal Love and Free Hugs. The gentler tune stood out among their more upbeat and rather homogenous blues-rock numbers.
Phone cameras came out when the four-piece played their classic Joe South cover, Hush, previously made famous by Deep Purple in the 70s. It felt at times like a copycat band, as they channelled classic acts from The Doors to The Who, even using Syd Barrett-era lava lamp visuals.
The British artists really came into their own in closer Govinda, one of their biggest hits. The band’s identity as 90s hippie kids (as opposed to 70s imitators) shone through amid their frontman’s energetic conducting of the chanting crowd. He finally had control of the room.
The show began and ended on a high, which is what most people remember. Unfortunately, one too many lulls occurred in between.
Photos: Virginie Viche
For further information and future events visit Kula Shaker’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Hey Dude here: