The Zodiac, Oxford
18th May 2006
Yes, that Kula Shaker. Hey, wait, come back! The ever-dapper and evergreen Crispian Mills and co have long divided opinion since Grateful When You’re Dead ten years ago, but haven’t troubled anyone’s consciousness much since their split three years later. Now they’re back with a tour, an iTunes- and vinyl-only EP and plans for an album.
So, how much has changed? Is the bass player still called Alonza? Yes, but he’s balder; only Jay Darlington, now part of the Oasis touring band, is missing, replaced by Henry Broadbent on the requisite Hammond organ.
Are they still into Indian mysticism and spirituality? It seems so, along with a myriad of other 60s/psychedelic influences. Of the new stuff, Diktator of the Free World has a political edge (and the chorus “I’m a dik, I’m a dik, I’m a diktator…”), and Revenge of the King has Crispian’s distinct talking vocals and the same type of abstract lyrics and sitar-like guitar sound as the stuff on their John Leckie-produced debut album, K.
Have all their fans deserted them? The sold-out Zodiac crowd would say no; they can still sing along with the Sanskrit lyrics of Tattva and Govinda. Their music remains stuck anytime between the 60s and now so Arctic Monkeys et al need not worry about their fans deserting them for Kula Shaker’s new fresh 2006 sound. The genial Crispian seems delighted with the turnout, chatting between songs and repeatedly thanking the crowd for coming.
Really, though, if you liked K but were a bit disappointed by Peasants, Pigs and Astronauts you’ll welcome the return to form, and if you didn’t care in the first place you won’t care now. Kula Shaker still have the same interests and philosophy and convey them in the same way; they still have a distinct style and something to say.