Following their recent appearance across town at last month’s NWOCR Live Fest, London’s The Karma Effect made a prompt return to Wolverhampton at the head of an electrifying triple bill, which also featured Austin Gold and Thieves of Liberty. This time, the more intimate location of The Giffard Arms was the setting, and there was a palpable sense of expectation in the air for this expected sell-out.
The Karma Effect
The Giffard Arms – 14 October 2023
Words: Sophie James
Photography: Neil Jackson
A year of constant gigging, especially on the festival circuit, has honed The Karma Effect into a tight, slick, rocking machine that just oozes heart, passion and class. Their music is a sumptuous smorgasbord of influences, fusing the harmonies, emotions and vibes of southern rock, soul and funk together with hints of artists from this side of the pond, such as the swagger of Free and the energy of The Answer.
The intro of Aerosmith’s Back In The Saddle receded to the customary opener Wrong Again. Hitting their trademark groove from the off, the stage was a hive of shuffling activity and vibrant colours. It was immediately discernible how much better the mix was than those of a few weeks ago. A band like this needs sufficient ‘separation’ in order for audiences to hear precisely all the delightful musical flavours. Full marks to resident engineer Al for getting the night’s balance right.
The funkalicious Doubt She’s Coming Back saw the band and the audience locked into irresistible synchronicity. A crowd favourite for sure. With one song under his belt, captivating singer Henry Gottelier was now loosened up unleashing that most powerful and altitudinous voice. No slouch when it comes to guitar playing either, his interplay with fellow six-stringer Robbie Blake was a fascinating and intoxicating display throughout.
Feeling the warmth of the reception, “Now this is a pretty awesome rock show,” quipped Henry before a song “Dedicated to all the crazy ex-girlfriends.” Mercy another seductive hip swayer featured some seriously gritty riffing from Robbie while the uplifting Better Days took the performance to an even higher plane.
“This is fucking awesome man.” Preceding The River, Henry invited the audience to keep up with him in a singalong. No chance! With his range, he soon left everyone trailing in his wake.
“We have a new album coming out – that’s all we’re allowed to say.” If the driving, thrusting All Night Long is anything to go by, then the signs are good.
“Time to bring it down. This is an important song to all of us, but especially you guys.” Stand is just the most exquisite number. Building on the beauty of Seb’s Keyboards, it rose so majestically, becoming the standout epic that it is, Henry, wringing every last drop of emotion from his plaintive vocal. One of those numbers which seems to get better and better and has a greater impact on each hearing.
As the series of dates has been called the Promised Land Tour, it would indeed be remiss of them not to air this, which just so happens to be the title track of the imminent album.
Steal Your Heart is just the most elating musical jaunt and is welcomed as the favourite it is. Their trademark soulful, funky groove evolves into the soaring chorus and is perfectly scheduled, coming as it does as the first half of a triumphant closing double salvo.
“We’re a ‘new’ band. We’ve come a long way in such a short time. Thank you so much.” The bluesy intro beneath the above narrative accentuates the atmosphere before the full-bodied assault of the rousing Testify. Henry revelled in his one last opportunity to shine with his guitar and positively beamed as the audience hollered the title back at him.
A most imperious performance and a special evening that will linger long in the memory. This is a band at the very top of their game. With so much more in the tank, they have tremendous potential. Poised to attain the next level, I heartily recommend that you catch them at intimate venues such as these while you still can.