Smerz, Shura @ Trinity Centre, Bristol, 07/12/2016

shuraShura, the synth pop star from Manchester, has more YouTube views on her "Touch" music video than Ferris Bueller’s had days off (that’s 27 million). With remixes of her track left right and centre too, the 2014 single has had even more exposure, but she didn’t rush to release her debut album. Instead, she was nominated for BBC Sound of 2015 and took her time to create Nothing’s Real: an album full of electro pop, 80s inspired tracks. Shura’s second show of her UK tour takes her to Bristol’s Trinity Centre.

Support comes from Smerz, the Norwegian duo that have just released their own debut album, Okey. Looping and layering electronic drums with fleeting, distorted vocals, their soft techno set awakens the crowd verging on a bass-y club night, merging pop with techno and house. One track gets a booming start, shaking the walls of teeny Trinity as they laugh, “That had a lot of bass so we’re going to do it again.” Setting the pop precedent, Smerz pave the way for Shura’s electro pop arrival.

And once Shura’s on stage, she jumps right in with electrifying lead single "Nothing’s Real". With an intro not dissimilar to Chemical Brother’s “Go”, “Nothing’s Real” moves into synth pop for the chorus with Madonna-laced melodies. She doesn’t stop there, moving in an upward trajectory onto "What’s It Gonna Be?" bringing the eclectic pop elements of her album to life.

Accompanied by three musicians on stage, Shura sings, plays keyboard and hits a drum pad, putting her performance skills to the test - and she passes with flying colours. Her humility shines through as she chuckles to herself after every cheer or song, creating a pally atmosphere in Trinity Centre. And with Shura’s promise of free flu with every ticket, she’s soon stopping herself from going into the ins and outs of her ailments warning the front row-ers.

The track where it all began, "Touch" is a favourite with the crowd, slowing down the tempo for the dreamy track with glimpses of R&B mixed with Shura’s pop we’ve come to know and love. But the Madonna influence is at its finest for "White Light" which ends her set on a high, and could have been taken straight out of the Footloose soundtrack. Gelling 80’s melodies with funky synths, she completely nails the new pop era or, as she brands it, “queering the mainstream”. Shout outs to cats Winnie and Flump, and twin Nick, round off a truly electrifying performance.


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