Author’s Note: I didn’t often write anything connected with visiting mainstream pop/rock acts for the Irish News – usually I was either concerned with covering local bands or visiting folk/blues artists. In fact, I have almost no recollection of this piece at all! Mike Edgar was a local radio personality who has since leapt to some lofty pinnacle of management near the top of BBC Northern Ireland. Nobody sees him anymore. Then again, I don’t get out much either these days!
Published: Irish News, March 11 1997
Brit award-winners, unashamed pseudo-mystic ‘60s revivalists, currently high in the singles charts with, of all things, an old Deep Purple cover, Kulashaker are pretty much where it’s at – and this Thursday BBC Radio Ulster’s own award-winning Across The Line broadcasts a two hour special on the boys, including a full hour of exclusive recordings from their Ulster Hall concert back in January. It was a concert that near-legendary Across The Line supremo Mike Edgar introduced from the stage, and it’s a moment he won’t forget in a hurry:
“I was standing behind this curtain on the stage introducing them” he says, “and suddenly Crispian hits this huge chord, the curtain comes down and you’re faced with 2000 people roaring – I suddenly realised why people are in rock’n’roll bands! And I’m sure a few in the front row were looking up thinking ‘who’s that geezer on the right?’ I felt like grabbing a tambourine and joining in!”
Edgar himself has a healthily raised-eyebrow towards the group, fronted by Crispian Mills (son of Hayley, grandson of Sir John, etc), as regards their philosophical leanings, but takes no prisoners in flying the flag for their music:
“I don’t know if Kulashaker are four blokes having us on” he says, “and earning a lot of loot in the process – but who cares, because they’re giving people such a good time. I interviewed Crispian on Across The Line and I asked him what people made of the mystical side of Kulashaker and he said ‘People today are really into it – they’re up for adventure, up for revolution, up for excitement. People are bored with the greyness of life and the lack of magic.’ So I asked him where he drew his magic from and he said ‘We use the force and the force uses us – that’s the key to success: believe me Mike, you’ve got to tap into the energy.’ And I laughed! It felt like I was talking to a couple of the blokes out of Spinal Tap! But the guy was completely po-faced about it, so I composed myself and carried on.”
Edgar can’t recommend the broadcast enough, especially to thirty-somethings who maybe gave it a by-ball on the night and don’t know what they’re missing:
“When people get a little older they maybe have families to consider and maybe aren’t as inclined to go out to live gigs but I’d encourage them to get back out there, or at least check out the broadcast, because shows like Kulashaker are astoundingly good. I mean, seeing four blokes pounding it out at the Ulster Hall with three rotating Leslie speakers right across the stage split into stereo, Hammond organ sounding wonderful, wah-wah pedals, valve amps giving it loads – it’s a complete throwback, but it’s so well done.
“I’ve been editing and mixing it for the past two weeks and it sounds absolutely brilliant. They do most of the album, a few covers and some stuff that will presumably be on the next album. I was actually amazed at how young the audience were because quite simply Kulashaker do throw back to Pink Floyd, the Beatles, Deep Purple – a lot of what’s gone before – and they’re steeped in this ‘60s mysticism. So I thought their audience would range across the board but in the main it was extremely young, mainly 16 year olds which was really heartening but sad in a way that a lot of that thirty-something brigade obviously hadn’t really got into the album, which is superb – and superb to the degree that it’s sold 750,000 copies in the UK. In fact, this week its incredible to see that their new single, an old Deep Purple cover, is in at No 2. The timing is right for Kulashaker.”
And will it last?
“Well, I think that their music speaks for itself – if they can keep cranking it out, they’ll do well. But then again, I imagine Crispian has been waiting to make that one, fantastic album since he was 15 and now the first thing to be released since the album is a cover so I’m a wee bit suspicious. Also they’ve yet to have a major hit in the States, although they’ve been working really hard over there since the Belfast show and aren’t afraid of keeping up that work rate – in fact while we’ll be broadcasting the Belfast show they’ll be heading back out there again for another three weeks and then a six week tour of Europe supporting Aerosmith, which makes a lot of sense. Crispian told me on the phone last week that the Belfast gig was really special: they’d been looking forward to “connecting with our Celtic brothers”, really enjoyed it and promised to be back.”
And when they are they’ll no doubt pop back into Across The Line. The broadcast, this Thursday, runs from 8-10pm: “I’m not recommending, of course, that anybody goes and gets blank tapes or anything” says Mike, “because we all know that’s highly illegal, but if they were they’d find two C60s useful…”