Sunflower Bean at Stereo, 1/4/18

Easter Sunday always makes for a jovial atmosphere in Glasgow, and this is certainly the case as New Yorkers Sunflower Beanperform to a sold-out Stereo, midway through a whistle stop tour of the UK promoting their freshly certified top 40 album Twentytwo In Blue.

The band bounce onto the stage, with guitarist Nick Kivlen bizarrely draped in a Dracula cape, and lead vocalist and bassist Julia Cumming immediately exclaims “let’s play some rock music”.

Opener ‘Burn It’ certainly adheres to her request as the glam rock stomp kicks proceedings off excellently.

Sunflower Bean have been enjoying an increasing level of success as their new record has made the crossover from indie hipster band of choice, to a more mainstream audience.

An early airing of the melodic ‘Twentytwo’ shows how their material has stepped up in maturity, however, despite the “grown-up” sound, Cumming and Kivlen still playfully bounce and bop around the stage throughout their set.

The heightened sense of occasion is not lost on Sunflower Bean, who declare their kinship with Scotland.

Cumming reveals her grandmother hails from these very shores, and they dedicate a song to local stars The Van T’s, who are in attendance this evening.

‘Crisis Fest’, the song in question, is one of the highlights of the set – a glitter band style romp, complete with collective fist pumping from band and crowd.

In amongst the wealth of new material, the euphoric shoegaze of old favourite ‘Easier Said’ gets the warmest reception.

It is the first time that there is visible dancing in the crowd, and incites a mass singalong, which continues when the acoustic guitar is busted out for a tender, stripped-back cover of Neil Young’s ‘Harvest Moon’, showing off a softer element in the trio’s depository.

After a brief loss of momentum, when guitarist Kivlen takes on the lead vocal on a shambolic ‘Sinking Sands’, the band end the main set with ‘I Was A Fool’, which just about escapes a plagiarism lawsuit from its striking similarity to Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’.

After the briefest of encores, likely pushed by the strict early curfew, the band return to end the show with ‘I Was Home’, a fast-paced indie rocker that recalls early Kings Of Leon, and treat the packed crowd to a frenetic light show as a final cacophonous instrumental plays out.

The show this evening is a triumph, spearheaded from the front by the chemistry between Cumming and Kivlen, who give off the air of a peroxide Patti Smith and youthful Bob Dylan respectively.

Sunflower Bean look comfortable on bigger stages, which is just as well – with a sold out crowd hanging on every note, it certainly seems like they’ll need to make themselves comfortable on them.

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Words: Graham McCusker
Photos: Elina Lin

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