Sunflower Bean – Concorde 2, Brighton – 5th April 2018

Photo by Liam McMillen

“We just wanted to thank you for making our record go into the Top 40. We’re an American band with no money, so it means a lot,” Julia Cummings said halfway through their Brighton gig, which only went further in cementing their place as one of the most exciting indie bands in the world right now. With two albums under their belt now, Sunflower Bean have become one of the most confident, diverse and exciting live bands of their generation, and their live show further showcases this, as well as revealing Julia Cummings as one of the best voices in modern rock.

Opening on the night were Brighton favourites Thyla, who already look more than ready to take on stages as big as Concorde 2. They’re an extremely tight live band, and it’s surely only a matter of time before the entire country sits up and takes notice. New single ‘I Was Biting’, one of the highlights of their set, is suitably massive. With its crunching bass, addictive, rhythmic guitar, and gnarly vocals from Millie Duthie, it owned the Concorde 2 stage with ease.

Next up, and main support for the entire tour, were burgeoning indie starlets, Sorry. From the opening note of their set it was clear to see that they’ve already garnered a hefty teenage fan base. Perhaps benefiting from the fact that it was the Easter holidays, or just whether they’ve well and truly won the teenage votes, the front of the crowd was going crazy for the North London four-piece. For good reason, too, as the likes of ‘2 Down 2 Dance’ have a fantastic, gritty post-punk vibe to them. Like a mix between the nu-metal of the early 2000s and the current, grimey South London indie scene, with a dash of Jamie T’s lyrical licks, it’s clear to see why Wolf Alice touted Sorry as one of their favourite new artists a few years back.

By the time Sunflower Bean made their way to the stage, the anticipation is palpable. Could the New York trio translate their terrific sophomoric effort, Twentytwo in Blue, to a live setting? The answer is a resounding yes, with the opening of ‘Burn It’ magnificently paving the way for one of the most dynamic performances to grace Brighton for some time. Firstly, and most importantly, Sunflower Bean look to be having the time of their lives up on stage and it’s utterly infectious. From the fast-paced, glamrock-inflected ‘Puppet Strings’ to the slower, 70s classic rock vibe of ‘I Was a Fool’, Sunflower Bean clearly love bringing Twentytwo in Blue to life.

It is lead singer Julia Cummings’ complete transformation from a demure character into the ultimate rockstar that is most impressive though. Up on the stage she is completely captivating, especially as she ignites a back-and-forth with the audience on excellent lead single, ‘Crisis Fest’, which was one of the highlights of the night. During the chorus of the song, the crowd come to life with swift: “No no no’s”, along with punches to the air, proving they’re fully behind Sunflower Bean’s ethos. It’s a call to arms from the band, which is replicated powerfully by the audience.

The trio’s Brighton show is essentially the perfect advertisement for Sunflower Bean. From the soft-rock of their first record, Human Ceremony, to the power-pop of Twentytwo in Blue, as well as a beautiful cover of Neil Young’s ‘Harvest Moon’ with added atmospheric lighting, Sunflower Bean have proved that they’re bona fide superstars and not just throwback, nostalgic rockers. Vigorous, energetic and compelling, it was an absolute delight.

Liam McMillen