Kula Shaker, Koko, London

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The Independent Culture

Men of a certain age may have gone weak at the knees when they heard that Led Zeppelin were reforming, but for those who were teens or early twentysomethings just a decade ago, 2007 has seen another, equally momentous rock resuscitation. Kula Shaker disappeared in 1999 in the wake of their second LP's unwarranted failure. But, lest we forget, when their debut K was released in 1996, it was the fastest-selling album since Definitely Maybe. Crispian Mills and his cohorts were, briefly, huge.





Their comeback show begins with a clip from Lindsay Anderson's If..., that cinematic fantasy of youthful rebellion starring Malcolm MacDowell. The band emerge wearing school uniforms like MacDowell's, an ironic embrace of the public school background that saw so much flak directed their way the first time they entered the charts.



Mills also used to do himself few favours with his proselytising on the subject of Indian spiritualism. So, thankfully, the first song is "Hey Dude", Kula Shaker's best juggernaut riff, free of all the peace-and-love posturing.



The set is a mix of greatest hits and tracks from the new album, Strangefolk, though these rarely measure up to old favourites such as " 303", K's trad-rock ode to the road leading into the West Country. "Jerry Was There", a tribute to the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia, is just as tedious as it was the last time round, but "Into the Deep" and "Shower Your Love" are guilt-free pleasures.



The new material contains Mills' take on the Iraq war and the men who started it, though it's doubtful he'll make them think twice about their actions with lyrics like: "Don't wanna strike your brother down/ I'd rather dress up as a clown," from "Die For Love".



That said, when they follow "Tattva" and their infectious cover of Black Sabbath's "Hush" with "Song of Love", the strongest track on Strangefolk, it doesn't seem out of place, its looping bass-line metamorphosing into a rock meltdown with shades of The Stooges' "I Wanna be Your Dog".



The encore concludes with "Govinda", their signature hit, which, with its Sanskrit peace prayer set to swirling guitars, remains an eminently ridiculous conceit. But if you can convince yourself that Kula Shaker aren't taking themselves too seriously, then, like the rest of the evening, it makes for good, clean fun.

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