Sundara Karma – O2 Ritz, Manchester – 14/04/16

Berkshire-formed indie four piece Sundara Karma is made up of Oscar Lulu (vocals, guitar), Haydn Evans (drums), Ally Baty (guitar) and Dom Cordell (bass). Having gathered a steady following through the help of BBC Introducing – who we have to thank for exposing wonders such as Catfish and the Bottlemen – by the time the four were just 18 their unique indie sound was scoring them regular plays on Radio One.

The band stands united at centre stage before dispersing as they jolt into the first song of their set. Each element of the instrumental is clearly distinguishable though sadly the vocals fall short, in terms of clarity rather than talent. The audience is fairly subdued despite the heavy beat. This four-piece is yet to make our feet stamp.

The lights dip to red for their second song, coming off less melodic than the first. Vocalist Oscar Lulu crouches and reaches playfully towards the audience, at times channelling Jagger with obscure movements; a performer lost in his own sound.

The musical ability of the quartet is clear. Lulu, Baty and Cordell remain in line at the front for the duration of the performance, our tour guides through all that is Sundara (a Sanskrit word meaning beautiful or noble). Their movements mirror and chase one another’s in what could be either lucky timing, excruciatingly rehearsed, or great chemistry between the members. ‘Flame’ establishes that it’s the latter. As green light effects spin round the floor, the band demonstrate why they’ve earned their place on this stage, the band’s collective confidence glowing throughout this number in particular.

In the crowd just one pair of arms breaks the air but that doesn’t mean to say that the music doesn’t move us; the impact of the guitars is visceral. Potentially due to the guitar pedals, at times feedback would render the vocals indistinguishable, a shame for a performance led by such a distinct voice.

‘Push Me Aside’ earns screams of glee from those miming passionately throughout the show. ‘Vivienne’ starts off well until presenting a strange distortion on the bridge leading me to question my decision to stand so close to the speaker. Lulu treats us to little interaction but when he does the girls at the front respond like he’s just announced that there will be free pizza after the show. Unfortunately, it seems no one else can make out what he’s saying.

More synergetic movements between the three guitarists as they fling their bodies, simultaneously bursting into their seventh and final song which features background noises which are somewhere between ambient and annoying. The set is short but sweet at around half an hour long.

You can still catch Sundara Karma at all of the following shows:

WED 20 APRIL – Waterfront – Norwich, UK
THU 21 APRIL – Rescue Rooms – Nottingham, UK
SAT 30 APRIL – Live At Leeds 2016 – Leeds, UK
TUE 24 MAY – Clwb Ifor Bach – Cardiff, UK
WED 25 MAY – Wedgwood rooms – Portsmouth, UK
THU 26 MAY – Heaven – London, UK
FRI 27 MAY – Dot To Dot Festival 2016 – Manchester, UK
SAT 28 MAY – Dot To Dot Festival 2016 – Bristol, UK
SUN 29 MAY – Dot To Dot Festival 2016 – Nottingham, UK
TUE 31 MAY – Òran Mór – Glasgow, UK
WED 1 JUNE – Clunny – Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK
THU 2 JUNE – Arts Club, Main Room – Liverpool, UK
FRI 3 JUNE – The Warehouse, Rainbow Venues – Birmingham, UK

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