Review: Sundara Karma & whenyoung at O2 Guildhall, Southampton

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With solid support provided by whenyoung, Sundara Karma played a tasty mix of first-album bangers and new hits that kept the crowds dancing.

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A year-and-a-half on from their last visit to Southampton, the Reading four-piece Sundara Karma have upsized from The 1865 to the O2 Guildhall, thus demonstrating their growing popularity. The former performance followed the release of their critically-acclaimed first album, Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect, while the latter follows the release of their highly anticipated second record Ulfilas’ Alphabet, named after a 4th Century Greek bishop who created his own alphabet in order to translate the Bible. This album has been called “less anthemic” but “more complex” so it was going to be interesting to see how Sundara would incorporate this into their high energy, sing-along shows…

Supporting Sundara on this tour were 15-year-old Alfie Templeman and Limerick trio whenyoung, who have toured with the likes of The Vaccines, Blossoms and Peace over the past two years. Now the band have a few singles and EPs under their belt, alongside a debut album Reasons to Dream on the way (set for release on May 24th), it’s no wonder the band will be setting off on a full UK and Ireland tour of their own shortly after this.

Entering the stage donning brightly coloured, single-pastel coloured jumpsuits of red, yellow and blue, two-thirds of whenyoung took up their instruments with the addition of a touring bassist. The catchy, looped riff of ‘Pretty Pure’ began as lead singer Aoife Power bounced on stage in an all-white suit. It seems she had been relieved of her guitar duties for this tour, which allowed her a greater stage presence and more freedom to perform. Their half-an-hour set comprised of unreleased material, including a touching song called ‘The Others’ which Power said the band had written following the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017. Also included were strong singles ‘Given Up’ and ‘Future’, ending on fan-favourite ‘Never Let Go’.

If you’ve seen the music video, you would know that lead singer of Sundara, Oscar Pollock, would be wearing the appropriate attire of black corset and knee-high boots for their first song ‘Higher States’, which made for an excellent opener with its electronic pulse and disco elements. Huge first-album bangers ‘Flame’ and ‘Explore’ were to follow and really got the crowd singing and boogieing. Despite the show not selling out, the venue felt full, which is always a good sign! After three songs off of the new album – ‘Greenhands’, ‘Sweet Intentions’ and lead single ‘Illusions’ – somebody in the crowd must’ve gotten too excited when they heard the words ‘She Said’ leave Pollock’s mouth and set off a green flare. The last and only time I’d seen that was when The Courteeners most recently played the Guildhall (that was slightly less surprising though).

For the encore there was a costume change for Pollock, who re-entered the stage dressed as a sort-of demonic angel with a black halo and still looking fabulous. Aside from ‘Indigo Puff’, an early single of theirs, the encore consisted entirely of songs off of the new record, culminating in a euphoric ending to the show with ‘One Last Night On This Earth’.

Check out the music video for ‘One Last Night On This Earth’ below.

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