Twenty odd years ago Kula Shaker released their debut album K upon the unsuspecting British audience, in album that was steeped heavily in Eastern mysticism (the band took their name from Indian eighth century King Kulashekhara), sounding painfully 60’s psychedelic, jangly guitar heavy, rock and had a host of songs sang partially in Sanskrit.
It’s surprising the album made it to number one in Britain at a time when many songs focused on drinking beer and pulling girls; what’s not surprising is that this music has withstood the test of time and is still relevant today – as a sold out ABC will testify.
Almost two decades later Kula Shaker have got together to release their fifth studio album K 2.0 – designed as an alternate or companion piece to the band’s debut.
Whereas other bands of the same generation have fallen into obscurity Kula Shaker have continued to tour and release new material (albeit other than a short hiatus in ’99) and it’s this mixture of new and old material the Glaswegian crowd are waiting to hear.
As the band amble on stage to the opening of ‘Sound of Drums’ the air is heavily perfumed with incense (skewered into apples) and the impressive visual display changes from inverted colour landscapes to mandalas to various Hindu deities – another doff of the cap to the band early roots.
Shortly after this, 42-year-old frontman, Crispin Mills explains to the crowd why he seems to lacking in his trademark wild onstage gyrating – he’s fractured a rib, he then explains that he didn’t want his fans to assume that he had become “old and decrepit”.
However throughout the 75-minute set he continues to air jump, jangle and gyrate around the stage – fractured rib or no.
The band race through a colourful set of old and new material with crowd pleasers ‘Grateful When Your Dead / Jerry Was There’, ‘Shower Your Love’ and ‘303’ – a song Mills explains is about loving a road.
New Material, such as ‘Mountain Life’, which has its first live airing, show the band haven’t strayed too far from their trademark psychedelic sound, mixed with Hendrix guitars and a variety of eastern instruments – sitar anyone?
As the opening chords of ‘Hush’ play the audience is stirred into finger pointing and fist pumping alertness; it’s this nostalgia that the Glasgow crowd have really came for.
A short interlude and Mills and co. appear back on stage.
“This is a song that you might remember from childhood,” Mills utters into the microphone before launching into ‘Hey Dude’, followed by ‘Great Hosanna’ and they close the set with ‘Govinda’.
This is one of the aforementioned Sanskrit songs, which surprisingly is sung along to by the, at this point highly jovial crowd; yes, that’s right 2000 Glaswegians in a room together singing in Sanskrit.
Now that is defiantly something that wouldn’t have went down in 1996.
Words/Photos: Ang Canavan