Art School, 26/11/18
Sunflower Bean reach Glasgow on one of the chilliest days of the winter so far, enlisted with the task of warming Art School punters who’ve come in out of the cold. Support comes from Jesse Jo Stark and the particularly notable Miya Folick who, despite mic problems, wins the crowd over with her own percipient pop and a haunting cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Woodstock’.
At the start of Sunflower Bean’s set, front-woman Julia Cumming glances around the dimly lit venue and proclaims: “Enough of this darkness.” The audience can construe this as they please – be it aimed at the stage lighting, the early November sunsets or a deeper political comment, the opening number ‘Burn It’ certainly has an illuminating quality.
They’re a compelling band to watch – Cumming has formidable charisma, and guitarist/vocalist Nick Kivlen is armed with quirky tricks, such as a vintage telephone attached to a mic stand, through which he filters his vocals to replicate the foggy quality they have on their most recent record Twentytwo in Blue. They pull heavily from this album; ‘Crisis Fest’, about the political uncertainty in their home nation, stands out, as well as the more slow and tender ‘Twentytwo’, which provides a sweet lull in all the jumping around.
The band and crowd are at their brashest halfway through the set, when they play recent single ‘Come For Me’. Cumming expresses her high expectation of Glasgow crowds before descending from the stage and barrelling into the crowd, stirring the audience into something of a frenzy. (Somewhere around this point, I lose my phone and have to pause my sense of reckless abandon to search for it under the audience’s feet). Those who still have stamina remain near the front to thrash around some more to ‘I Was Home’ and closing number ‘Wall Watcher’.
For me, the highlight is the Twentytwo in Blue track ‘Only A Moment’, which is beautifully delivered by Cumming – melancholy in its first few verses but breaking into the comforting refrain of “you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.” There are worse messages to hear on a cold November night.
[Lizzie McCreadie – @franzgaffka]