Kula Shaker / A Double Date With The Kings Of Psychedelic Rock

Celebrating the huge success of their brand new album drop, Natural Magick, a huge queue snaked up the hallowed ground of Camden High Street, London, to attend two sell-out gigs by Kula Shaker, a band, who I’ve adored for over 25 years.

Kula Shaker – Dhol Foundation

Electric Ballroom, Camden – 26 April 2024

Photography: Ryan Hildrew

Words: Sara Harding

I’ve been a card-carrying fan of Kula Shaker sonce they burst onto the Brit psych scene in 1996, and ironically, it was at MTV in the heart of Camden where I first encountered this iconic group. 

Kula Shaker is back in business with the release of their seventh album, Natural Magick, a mesmeric incantation of blazing sermons, raga rave-ups, and pop pearls with some magical world music layers. 

The sell-out crowd are all here to enjoy the new anthems plus the classics that launched the band into superstardom, such as Govinda, Tattva, 303 and Grateful When You’re Dead. 

Kula Shaker - Electric Ballroom, Camden - 26 April 2024
Kula Shaker – Electric Ballroom, Camden – 26 April 2024. Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk

As my Kerrang/Rock Candy bestie Xavier Russell and I queue to get in, we bump into the beautiful and talented actor Hayley Mills, and as Xavier is Ken Russell’s son, I felt privileged that this bird from a council estate is in such legendary company. 

You can almost smell the incense burning as we rush into the Ballroom for a magical mystery tour of music courtesy of the original KS line-up. The venue was soooooo packed that we couldn’t get a spot to even glimpse the band until they are halfway through Hey Dude. 

Luckily, we got a position by the lovely ladies at the merch stall and obviously had to buy the tour T-shirt, which I’m proudly wearing as I write this review.

Crispian Mills is the charismatic, multi-talented frontman of Kula Shaker, with swishing hair, hyper energy and a guitar pedal board like no other. Songwriting and vocal skills aside, Mills is a superb, underrated guitarist who deals us the wah-wahs to many soaring solos. 

Alonza Bevan is a badass bassist. Often, the bass players are overlooked, but Bevan shines on his 4-string, and with a backline augmented by the truly talented drummer Paul Winterheart, they are the beating heart of this band. 

Jay Darlington is a literal keyboard wizard on Hammond duty and adding another huge layer of musical muscle to this tight-as-tight combo.

Kula Shaker - Electric Ballroom, Camden - 26 April 2024
Dhol Foundation – Electric Ballroom, Camden – 26 April 2024. Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk
Dhol Foundation

The opening act is a drumming combo I have enjoyed many times in West London, the truly dynamic Johnny Kalsi’s Dhol Foundation, delivering a slick set of Bhangra bangers with some Bollywood beats. This superb band elevate the Electric Ballroom with a skin-tingling slice of Eastern Promise, and everyone is dancing along. 

Dhol Foundation - Electric Ballroom, Camden - 26 April 2024
Dhol Foundation – Electric Ballroom, Camden – 26 April 2024. Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk

Even the (ahem) older fellers who like a beer or two are all doing the change the lightbulb dance moves. Stunning, slick and sublime as ever – love love love the Foundation.

What a way to get us into the vibe that Kula Shaker bring. 

Kula Shaker

With incredible backdrops, my favourite being the old-skool lava lamp lighting, which had me reminiscing of my student days. 

We could only hear Gaslighting due to the vastness of people in this packed venue, but it was a killer way to kick of tonight’s show. Followed by Hey Dude, this a total anthem of a song. The band are better than ever. So good live, it was like listening to the album. 

Kula Shaker - Electric Ballroom, Camden - 26 April 2024
Kula Shaker – Electric Ballroom, Camden – 26 April 2024. Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk

The band effortlessly skips forward to the new album Natural Magick with a song that has already become an anthem, Waves. We were all singing along to this catchy slice of California meets Camden. Keeping it on the new drop, it’s the title track, which is now firmly an earworm at the television company where I work. With its funky Hammond organ and the sublime Pauly (as Crispian calls the drummer) delivering solid beats, it’s what we in Brentford call a ‘Tuuuuuuunnnnnnneeeee’.

Kula Shaker - Electric Ballroom, Camden - 26 April 2024
Kula Shaker – Electric Ballroom, Camden – 26 April 2024. Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk

Keeping it on Magick vibe, the band launched into Indian Record Player, an east meets west slice of retro rock that we, the fans, clearly love. We dance, we cheer, we sing as much as we can in our limited space – all happy and in harmony.

Mills addresses us, “Hey! How’s everyone doing? It’s great to be playing our Natural Magick songs to you all.” He goes on to introduce Triparna Mukherjee, an incredible, authentic singer. Clearly he is in awe of this amazing songstress and states, “We’ve only played this twice, and this is very special for us.” Kula shaker with Triparna delight us with Chura Liya which should be a movie soundtrack. Bollywood or Hollywood are you listening?  

Kula Shaker - Electric Ballroom, Camden - 26 April 2024
Kula Shaker – Electric Ballroom, Camden – 26 April 2024. Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk

In a stunning sari with a stunning voice, Triparna continues to wow us as the band moves on to Infinite Sun and I’m Still Here. Then its time for S.O.S and Start All Over. This Kula show has it all from the rare, to the deep cuts to the anthems – a real treat for us fans.

As we hear the intro to Grateful When Your Dead, the crowd lose their shit. The energy goes through the roof of the Electric Ballroom and then we melt down into their Jerry Was Dead jam. 

Every time I’ve seen Kula Shaker, they’ve delivered a different version, but one thing that remains the same is Mills’ absolutely frikkin’ crazy guitar chops – my bestie Xavier, who knows everything about everything, was impressed when I told him how the Jerry jam came about – the one and only time I’ve beaten him with a music fact. Buzzing to hear this live and loud again. 

Kula Shaker - Electric Ballroom, Camden - 26 April 2024
Kula Shaker – Electric Ballroom, Camden – 26 April 2024. Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk

Bringing It Back Home was another slice of perfection with the sounds of sitar and Mukherjee again on vocals, adding another layer of pure sonic harmony with the Kula dudes. This was followed by Shower Your Love. 

Crispian makes us all laugh as he tells us he is going to attempt playing the ukulele and guitar whilst tap dancing. As the crowd laps up this setlist, Mills says to us all, “Thank you for restoring my faith in humanity,” as they launch into Taxes followed by F-Bombs. Political and lyrical.

Kula Shaker - Electric Ballroom, Camden - 26 April 2024
Kula Shaker – Electric Ballroom, Camden – 26 April 2024. Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk

Narayana follows, and then it’s time for one of my personal faves which is a must on my road trip from London to Cornwall to see the family on my favourite drive on the 303 past Stonehenge and Glasters.

Tattva is next on the setlist, and as I look around at this sellout crowd, it’s great to witness so many different fans, young and old, diverse and colourful, all at the shrine of Kula Shaker’s music. 

Kula Shaker - Electric Ballroom, Camden - 26 April 2024
Kula Shaker – Electric Ballroom, Camden – 26 April 2024. Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk

Hush gets us moving and grooving, and then it’s encore time with Great Hosanna and another anthem from the K-era Govinda and all topped off with a cover of Deelite’s Groove Is In The Heart. What a finale. 

As we all head off to the tube station, everyone is buzzing. I can hear people singing Govinda as our trains take us to our destinations. 

I am so glad that Kula Shaker are back where they belong. With a sell-out tour and a stunning new album, they are sounding better than ever. 

Far out. Jaya Jaya!  

Dhol Foundation - Electric Ballroom, Camden - 26 April 2024
Dhol Foundation – Electric Ballroom, Camden – 26 April 2024. Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk
Dhol Foundation - Electric Ballroom, Camden - 26 April 2024
Dhol Foundation – Electric Ballroom, Camden – 26 April 2024. Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk
Dhol Foundation - Electric Ballroom, Camden - 26 April 2024
Dhol Foundation – Electric Ballroom, Camden – 26 April 2024. Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk

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