All the gigs of my life

All the gigs of my life: Gig 133 – Kula Shaker, Thursday, December 8, 2016, Kentish Town Forum

Celebrating with Kula Shaker on one of the most significant days of my life.

The 8th of December 2016 is a day I will never forget. After more than five years of what felt at times to be an exhausting, unrewarding slog, I was finally having my PhD viva. Now it was time to defend my thesis and see if all that work had been worth it. My supervisor had warned me that vivas for scienctific PhDs could be quite ruthless – long, challenging things lasting half a day or more. I went in prepared for battle.

Less than an hour and a half later, I stepped out of the viva room having passed my PhD, with only a few months’ more work to do on some minor thesis corrections. It was time to celebrate, and how more brilliantly could I do so than by spending an evening with Kula Shaker, performing their classic debut “K” in full?

From my diary:

‘So I was four glasses of Prosecco down, post viva. Had to race home to dump the bag full of three copies of my thesis, change into more appropriate clothes and eat a bit of food before sprinting back up the Northern line. Kentish Town! When was I last there, before last night? Have I been there this century?? ‘

It had in fact been just over a decade since my last venture to the Kentish Town Forum, for the bouncy mayhem of The Automatic in 2006.

‘Anyway. It’s a great venue. I took a spot down the front (of course) to the far right, the curved barrier giving me a great view.’

Given the adrenaline-spiked, Prosecco-fueled frame of mind I was in for this gig, my diary entry is a little more sparse than for other gigs of this era, and it’s clear I was in a bit of a euphoria-driven silly mood, as evidenced by my note on the support band:

‘Support came from Bluesy McHippy and the Beardless ZZ Top Experience (I may have misremembered the name slightly) who were kinda good.’

And then Kula Shaker came on, and the past came in to greet us in magnificent style.

‘Kulas! In a radical subversion of the tradition of 20th anniversary gigs, they did not launch straight into “Hey Dude”! First they played a Kulafied version of Sgt Pepper, then “Let Love Be With You”. Then Crisp got out a vinyl LP of “K”, announced that they’d be playing it in full, then placed the record on the record player atop the antique keyboard, as tho’ we were all going to listen to it together, the wag. Then he declared that we would not be retreating to the past, but instead inviting the past to visit us now, and with a countdown 5-4-3-2-1 there was the past and there was “Hey Dude”.

You know what? A bunch of other 90s bands should take note. That’s how you do an anniversary.’

It came as no surprise that “K” was bloody amazing live in its entirety.

‘The highlight for me was of course “Into The Deep” with its joyous singalong of “fly brother fly” But unexpectedly songs like “Magic Theatre” and “Hollow Man” were beautiful and affecting, and “Start All Over” a plaintive singalong. Yeah, it was Kula Shaker being Kula Shaker and really, what more could you want?’

And that’s it for my somewhat brief report of this gig. But given the Big News of the day – the fact that I had made it through one of the most difficult challenges of my life, and could now call myself Dr. – I won’t be too hard on myself for not writing a more thorough report the following day. And Kula Shaker will always be special to me, for being there on this most momentous day of my life.

‘Knackered today, but I’m sure SFA will revive me!’

Yes – in amazing timing, I was able to celebrate passing my PhD viva with not one but two gigs, and I had Super Furry Animals to look forward to the next day. It was truly the most perfect end to 2016 I could have hoped for.

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