The O2 Academy, in Leeds, is heaving with and excitable crowd, ninety percent of which are probably under the age of 23, eager to see Sundara Karma. Before that the bustling crowd were treated to energetic sets from BLOXX and The Magic Gang.
BLOXX were first up with their brand of Grunge-Pop and endless energy. The exuberance they displayed, combined with their accessible and catchy riffs, succeeded in getting the crowd nicely warmed up. The star of their performance was undoubtedly guitarist and lead singer Ophelia Booth, she effortlessly switches from delicate, teasing, vocals to becoming a powerful driving force.
BLOXX were followed by The Magic Gang, just as up-beat but lighter in tone. Their catchy choruses and surfer style riffs bring back memories of The Beach Boys and early Weezer material. They juxtapose buoyant, jolly, grooves with more melancholic lyrics. The Magic Gang have an incredibly commercial product, which the young audience lapped up, and as they left the stage the atmosphere had definitely been ramped up by their display.
It was then time for the headline act, Sundara Karma. The last time I saw them it was at the beginning of their career, at a much smaller venue, when their unique and androgynous dress sense added an air of cool to their performance. On this occasion they arrived on stage in matching tight-fitting shirts, looking more like an Indie band boy, perhaps physically representing the fact that they are now much more in the sphere of acts like The 1975. The set began with “Another Word For Beautiful”, which featured lead singer Oscar “Lulu” Pollock acting, and looking, like a cross between eighties David Bowie and a crooner as he serenaded his fans. The night then took an early change of pace as they hammered out “A Young Understanding” and “Loveblood”, and the set then maintained this heightened level.
The tour is to celebrate the release of their debut album “Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect”, the success of which seems to have added a new swagger to their stage personas. Despite this rapid increase in their fame they have remained collectively humble. They repeatedly thanked the huge crowd for turning up and supporting them, whilst expressing just how much that support means to them. The fans, who were equally as appreciative of the band, provided a constant level of rowdy energy. As they played “Run Away” the front section of the standing area exploded into a frenzy of movement and excitement. At this moment there was an electric atmosphere in the room as hundreds of audience members passionately shouted the chorus, almost drowning Oscar out. At any point during the set it would have been a shame if he had have been inaudible, as his vocals were flawless throughout. He displayed the full dynamism of his vocal range, leaving the crowd spellbound by his performance.