The Luka State Deliver Triumphant Rock ‘N’ Roll At Camden Assembly

“As long as we stick together, then and only then will we become. We will become More than this.” Conrad Ellis, dripping with sweat and visibly moved says as they go crunching into the final chorus of the title track from their second album, More Than This.

The Luka State @ Camden Assembly

Conrad Ellis of The Luka State
Conrad Ellis of The Luka State

This is a defining night in the lives of four childhood friends from Winsford, a small salt mining town in the north west of England. Selling out the historic Camden Assembly which has played hosts to The Strokes, Queens Of The Stone Age, The Killers, Bloc Party and Muse amongst others is a great feat for a young band but the energy that was in the room tonight would have been hard to have been matched.

The Luka State @ Camden Assembly

Conrad Ellis of The Luka State
Conrad Ellis of The Luka State

The energy in the room is intensified by the support of DUDE, MY DUDE and Electric Enemy the latter of which had a 10 song set that evoked Muse and Royal Blood. It’s the project of London-based multi-instrumentalist Jim Lawton, and the dirty distorted basslines and pulsating drums surged through the capacity crowd.

Electric Enemy @ Camden Assembly

Jim Lawton of Electric Enemy
Jim Lawton of Electric Enemy

Conrad Ellis, Sam Bell, Lewis Pusey and Jake Barnabas walk through the crowd, onto the stage and The Luka State go straight into the defiant anthem Bring Us Down. You can immediately see the passion in the band’s playing as guitarist Pusey is screaming every word even though he’s not got a mic.

The Luka State @ Camden Assembly

Lewis Pusey of The Luka State
Lewis Pusey of The Luka State

Bassist Sam Bell toys with the crowd using his four string to call and respond with them as Conrad tunes down a step for Losing Streak. “This one’s for anyone who’s ever suffered with any kind of addiction” he says. The crowd scream back along, “Won’t you help me fix my brain,” a very primitive and raw line about mental health. It’s a theme throughout their sophomore album More Than This released last month. Conrad has been open about his mental health struggles and throughout the album, it chronicles the journey he’s gone through as well as intertwining social and political issues.

The Luka State @ Camden Assembly

Sam Bell of The Luka State
Sam Bell of The Luka State

Lighters and phone lights come out for Movies, the last song on the record. In a rare moment of respite, Conrad is alone on acoustic guitar until the last chorus when he’s joined by the rest of the band. “Fall into my arms, like they do in the movies.” They show that whilst they often touch raw angst and realities they can write a touching acoustic ballad and it’s the most intimate moment of the night.

The Luka State @ Camden Assembly

The Luka State @ Camden Assembly
The Luka State @ Camden Assembly

“Enough of that soppy shit. This next one’s about mental health, about how you can fall down and get back up.” They begin Tightrope with Pusey’s guitar and the driving drums of Jake Barnabas – who’s electric throughout the night, getting the energy immediately ramped back up.

The Luka State @ Camden Assembly

Jake Barnabas of The Luka State
Jake Barnabas of The Luka State

By now, between songs the crowd are either screaming the name of the band or yelling anti-government chants. Some say that politics should be kept very much separate from other fields like sport and music. An argument that with the passing of time seems to be more difficult. 

The Luka State @ Camden Assembly

Conrad Ellis of The Luka State
Conrad Ellis of The Luka State

The Luka State are using their platform to try to make a positive impact in these trying times. Every ticket sold on this tour as well as album sales and streams has a donation to the Trussel Trust, a charity very close to the heart of the band. We sat down with Conrad a couple of weeks ago and he told us how he had delivered food parcels to struggling families during the pandemic and how the song of the same name was inspired by that experience.

The Luka State @ Camden Assembly

Conrad Ellis of The Luka State
Conrad Ellis of The Luka State

Feel It, the opening track of their 2021 debut album Fall In Fall Out, follows and the pit has now well and truly formed. Bodies flying into other bodies a cathartic release. A stark contrast to when their album came out during the lockdown of January 2021 and they were left frustrated that they couldn’t tour their debut record.

The Luka State @ Camden Assembly

Conrad Ellis of The Luka State
Conrad Ellis of The Luka State

They’ve been playing now for around 45 minutes. High energy from minute one and Conrad ditches the guitar. He’s now solely in charismatic frontman mode as he goes into another one from the debut, Bury Me first released back in 2018. Conrad succumbs to the circle pit himself and gets in amongst it leaping from the stage into the adoring swell of limbs.

The Luka State @ Camden Assembly

Conrad Ellis of The Luka State
Conrad Ellis of The Luka State

“You still got some left in ya?!” Conrad yells. His commanding of the stage and the crowd is effortless and he’s into another gear. Oxygen Thief, a song Conrad wrote as a defiant statement of not letting anyone get the better of you. “You’re just an oxygen thief, and you won’t be the death of me.” His eyes are focused, you can feel that this is personal. It’s a visceral experience.

The Luka State @ Camden Assembly

Lewis Pusey of The Luka State
Lewis Pusey of The Luka State

The last song is More Than This and over an hour into their set, they have the same vociferous energy that they did when they first walked out.  “We will become More than this.” My ears are ringing, my feet are sticking to the floor, it’s a great night for a band that are undoubtedly on an upward trajectory and are making positive change through their platform. And making damn good rock music in the process. 

The Luka State @ Camden Assembly

Conrad Ellis of The Luka State
Conrad Ellis of The Luka State

The Luka State continue their travels through Europe and finish with what will undoubtedly be a raucous and frenetic end to their tour in Manchester.

Review of The Luka State at Camden Assembly on 30th March 2023 by Chris Lambert. Photography by Kalpesh Patel.

The Luka State: Delivering Food Parcels, Mental Health Struggles And Living For Playing Live

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