30 November 2018
The Junction, Cambridge
New York City has produced countless iconic bands in decades past
from The Ramones to The Strokes, the list is ever-growing. The latest
outfit to emerge who are really starting to make their mark globally
are Sunflower Bean, a trio of uber-cool young musicians whose recent
album Twentytwo in Blue, released earlier this year, is
receiving widespread acclaim. This week their world tour wound its
way to Cambridge and The Junction.
Since forming in 2013 Sunflower Bean have released two
albums and shows with The Vaccines and Wolf Alice have helped introduce
them to the UK market. They have become familiar with the Brits thirst
for rock and tonight they were willing to deliver. An eager Cambridge
Friday night crowd were ready to receive.
Lead vocalist and bass player Julia Cumming greets the Cambridge crowd,
a lively bunch, with the invitation Do you want to rock Cambridge?"
They respond and scream in unison Yeah! (and not Hell
Yeah a response Sunflower Beam may be more familiar with in
the States!). As they open their set, Julia takes the stage in her
dazzling silver boots sporting a glamorous royal-blue country and
western shirt, while drummer Jacob Faber beams with a grin that lights
up the venue. Meanwhile guitarist Nick Kivlen, dressed in what can
only be described as silk pyjamas, comes across as a kind of kangaroo/astronaut
hybrid bouncing and gliding with ease. Nick spends the duration of
the gig springing around the stage sprinkling arpeggios and ear-melting
licks into the mix without ever missing a beat - he might be wearing
pyjamas, but that boy can certainly play.
Were gonna play rock music all night! announces
Julia, launching into Burn It, from the new album. The
record is foot-stomping and defiant, a reflection on the duality of
living in Trump-era America, and the smaller picture of life and self-discovery
as someone in their early 20s. Both aspects are showcased equally.
As they continue with Crisis Fest, an explicit comment
on current affairs and 70s infected Twentytwo a pristine
ode to youth, the Cambridge crowd are loving it.
Julias transformation as frontwoman is impressive. Once a shy
and reserved character, according to reports, tonight she commands
the stage with the confidence of a leader and engages with the audience
between songs at every opportunity. At one point she hangs up the
bass guitar and with mic in hand leaps into the crowd straight over
the front barrier to get down and dirty with the Cambridge mosh pit.
What do you do at the end of the day? Gave you my heart and
you walked away, she soars over guitar-shredding highlight Puppet
Strings as green lasers and strobe lights entice the spirit
of rock and roll from within the rapturous crowd.
Sonically, the group make 70s psychedelia with a noughties indie edge.
2013 bristles, Tame Impala fuzzes, I
Was Home has a gnarly Black Keys feel to it, and of course the
Fleetwood Mac comparisons had to come from somewhere - funky and downbeat,
I Was A Fool could be a lost cut from Rumours. Their stage
presence is electrifying, Julia and guitarist Nick repeatedly locking
axes during mind-melting solos while beat master drummer Jacob
and his dodgy Mexican moustache brings up the rear. Simply
an unforgettable ninety-minute set of rock n roll glamour.
All hail Sunflower Beam! The rock gods shine brightly upon you.
Words and Pix : Dan Sly
Thanks to Thom at Sonic PR for fixing things up.