Sunflower Bean @ Soup Kitchen, Manchester

Perfectly maddening instrumentals and a showcase of dirty, raw indie rock – if you haven’t already been welcomed into the world of New York’s stellar, Sunflower Bean, then come in and attempt to make yourself cozy… As the crowd of Manchester’s Soup Kitchen quickly discovered – it’s extremely difficult not to find yourself grooving.

Tuesday February 16th 2016: the media-championed Sunflower Bean (Nick Kivlen; Julia Cumming and Jacob Faber) hoist themselves up in-front of a sold-out Soup Kitchen crowd. Greeted with howls of adoration and waves of pure pleasure, the trio gracefully slip straight into their natural stances.  Slick, laidback and emitting beams of confidence; Sunflower Bean are everything you want a band to be in 2016.

Wasting little breath on unnecessary introductions, the Big Apple band rip into tracks such as ‘Human Ceremonies’ (taken from Sunflower Bean’s studio album of the same name, which has “been out for…eleven days?” Questions Cumming) and the raucous ‘2013’. Purposefully used to wind the cogs of the audience, the latter offering draws definite attention, crafts ideas of radiating passion, and manages to cement the belief that perhaps history will be made tonight.

Rule 1 of tonight: don’t stop for a breather. The train rumbles on swiftly, finding droning, surf-pop number, ‘Easier Said’, alongside ‘I Was Home’, dancing by in a flash of technicolour light. It should be noted however, that these two tracks miraculously manage to pinpoint what this trio are attempting to achieve. Controlled chaos, variety and overall contentment. A crease of concentration may have developed across frontwoman Cumming’s face, but underneath is a glimpse of euphoria – a snapshot of what makes Sunflower Bean special.

Highlight of the set comes in the form of ‘Wall Watcher’, the eighth track of Human Ceremonies. Swooning vocals accompany a progressive array of guitar riffs, which leads into an improvised-like instrumental from the band. A shiver of real chemistry can be witnessed on stage as the three musicians lock onto their instruments. Lost in the moment while their eyes are fixated on the prize. It’s crazy, but it’s controlled. Ultimately, a showcase of wondrous talent.

The set draws to a deafening close, where Sunflower Bean play their “first encoure of the tour” and encourage the crowd to meet them over by the merch stand later. Swigging the end of her can, Cumming exits stage right, followed by Faber and Kivlen. This definitely isn’t the last Manchester has seen of Sunflower Bean, on the contrary it’s only the sweet beginning.

Ella Scott

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