By Alys Hewitt
Twentytwo in Blue, the second record by New York natives Sunflower Bean, cherry-picks its influences with effortless ease, pairing breezy yet immersive psych-pop ballads with spikier tracks encapsulating the spirit of glam rock and punk. Their November show at Cardiff’s Globe, which marked the beginning of a tour of the UK, maintained a similar energy, moving seamlessly between the shimmering power pop of ‘Twentytwo in Blue’ and ‘I Was a Fool’, the glam swagger of album (and set) opener ‘Burn It’ and the psychedelic intensity of their earlier tracks (‘2013’, ‘Wall Watcher’, ‘Easier Said’), the likes of which wouldn’t feel out of place in a cosier basement venue.
At the beginning of their set, frontwoman Julia Cumming remarks that she contemplated naming the tour the ‘American Invasion’, referring to the two artists the band had chosen to play alongside them on the tour. These were Jesse Jo Stark and Miya Folick, both hailing from LA, who proved to be dynamic and compelling support acts in their own ways. The husky-voiced Stark brought nostalgic, slightly bluesy rock and roll energy from the get-go, whilst Folick delivered a set less easy to pin down, her impressive vocal range soaring and ascending from a coy whisper to a bellow across songs, mostly backed by lush synths.
Peroxide blonde and clad in zebra print, Cumming looked every inch the rock frontwoman taking to the Globe’s stage. Yet the band lacked any air of pretence and nonchalance, even when strutting their way through their most attitude-laden tracks. Instead, they seemed genuinely delighted to be on stage, a sentiment reciprocated by a transfixed crowd, many of whom sang along enthusiastically as the band worked their way through their catalogue. This was at its height during ‘Crisis Fest’, a single which took on a new level of ferocity when performed live. It demanded to be listened to, exuding an infectious energy as fans joined in a resounding call and response.