Live: Sunflower Bean – Art School Glasgow 26.11.2018 Plus Gallery

Photo of Julia Cumming of Sunflower Bean on stage at Glasgow Art School on 26 November 2018

Sunflower Bean blossom on stage in Glasgow performing tracks from their coming of age album ‘Twentytwo in Blue’.

“Alright, enough of this silence” shouts vocalist and bassist Julia Cumming to the hushed crowd as Sunflower Bean take to the stage at Glasgow’s recently reopened Art School venue to kick off another night of their extensive UK tour. Their second album, ‘Twentytwo in Blue’, has already made an appearance on many album of the year lists including mine. I adored it for its honest, hopeful and sometimes ferocious power-pop. Having seen them play smaller venue Stereo earlier this year, I had high hopes for another powerhouse performance. In the first few minutes I know I will not be disappointed as they open with the incendiary ‘Burn it’ to the delight of the increasingly animated crowd.

The dreamy ‘Twentytwo’ is a stand-out track – fueled by Jacob Faber’s pounding drum beat that underpins Nick Kivlen’s jangling guitar and Cumming’s soulful vocals. The addition of Danny Ayala on keyboards provides another shimmering layer to their sound. Cumming may be the one wearing sequins but the whole band sparkles throughout this set.

Cumming’s vocals shift from soaring to snarling on ‘Crisis Fest’ while the crowd punch the air in time with her words. This song becomes more pertinent every time I hear it and it is always glorious to watch an audience united in adoration for a band and losing themselves in their music and the moment.

“I remember you guys to be particularly fun and I’m expecting the same tonight,” says Cumming before they launch into addictive new single ‘Come For Me’, taken from their forthcoming EP ‘ King Of The Dudes’ (out 25th January). It’s not long before Cumming elegantly climbs over the barrier and makes her way into the crowd to continue the song. “I knew you had it in you” she calls out as she returns to the stage.

What is so exciting about this band is that they can’t be pigeonholed. They can do swooning sumptuous indie pop one minute (‘Only A Moment’) and then ferocious riot-inciting rock the next (‘I Was Home’). It’s a testament to their songwriting that you can name a hundred influences that you can recognise nestled in their music, but none that stick out in particular.

“If I was to move to the UK, I would move to Glasgow,” says Kivlen to a roar of approval before they wrap-up this set with the blistering pace and aggression of ‘Wall Watcher’.

‘Twentytwo in Blue’ is an outstanding album with songs that are rooted in hope and empowerment and are powered by pure rock and roll. This set saw those songs, and others from their back catalogue, bloom – enriched by raw energy and dazzling artistry. Sunflower Bean are a thrill to watch and, going by tonight’s show, they can only continue to grow.

Photos © Rhiannon Law

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