IMAGES BY WAREEN MILLAR/WORDS BY JANET HARDING
It’s Fast, It’s Fierce, It’s Loud, We’re Off to Another High Energy Impactful Performance!!
The wonderfully eccentric, cool but don’t care, fascinating style icon that can only be Zuzu is our headliner tonight. With her inspirational song writing, powerhouse voice and added quick wit and quirkiness, it promises to be a great show! Back in the city of sound – Liverpool – musically and historically rich, you can find live music here any night of the week. It literally flows from every corner of this vibrant northwest city. It’s a cold Liverpool tonight, teeming with rain as we arrive at Lime Street station. It’s only a short walk to our venue, located super conveniently for those travelling by train or indeed by car. Not far from the majestic St George’s Hall in all its neo classical glory is the 02 Academy. It’s honestly the perfect setting for tonight’s event: Zuzu in her home town and this city is a huge inspiration to her material. From her bio… “It’s a city of jesters, jongleurs, troubadours, artists, poets and visionaries”.
We’re to be in the smaller Academy venue tonight, Academy 2, but the queues are already around the corner and up the street. This girl has pulling power and a huge and loyal following. It’s a brilliant venue, built as a warehouse originally in the 19th century, it’s housed a furniture makers, pet shop and horse market. In 2000 it was converted into a music venue and has welcomed a vast and wide collection of artists including Muse and Coldplay. At 500 capacity Academy 2 is small enough to feel intimate but still big enough for those packed out, gig crowd feels – and wow, is it packed out tonight!! We have a full house for sure. The photo pit stage front is full, photographers literally having to climb over each other to get shots! Very cool feeling and musically themed, there’s a large bar area with seating made from flight cases, a great touch! It’s really a great place to see live music!
First support – Munkey Junkey
First up in support tonight is Birkenhead based producer and lo-fi ,hip hop artist, Munkey Junkey. Standing in right at the last minute (which is to be commended) with not much time to prepare, as an audience you’d never know. Very entertaining. Sound rich, heavy bass banging beats with fading synths and keys, additional backing tracks and massive auto tuning effects and voice change effect. It’s a real mixture, but works well. Munkey Junkey aka Kurran Karbul brings us a delectable hybrid of singing and rap – the rap verses are lively, witty ,fast paced and thought provoking. The singing is mainly upbeat, entertaining and intriguing, very conceptual and experimental sounds. On stage he has great presence, his performance is commanding and we can’t take our eyes off this guy! He covers the stage during livelier songs, oozing charisma, and throwing tons of energy into these original songs, inspired by his times living in the U.S., Abu Dhabi, Switzerland, India and the UK. With whooping and howling a part of the performance, it’s very watchable and goes down well with tonight’s crowd. Kurran takes his moniker, Munkey Junkey from ‘our animalistic impulses and primate origins, which are not all that past’. Interesting, lively, very thought provoking and a great set.
Second Support – Tilly Louise and the Beautiful Boys
Next up is Liverpool based, shimmering, indie pop/indie punk, Tilly Louise, arriving on stage all smiles, looking amazing in a silver sequined suit and trainers. The venue is now chockablock, everyone is feeling the party vibe and are really up for more music. It’s a lively performance from the get-go, both Tilly and her band are on fire, bouncing around, looking to be having the absolute time of their lives. I’ve got gig feels, this is the stuff mosh pits and crowded venues are made for. The energy these guys transmit is something else! and that high, feel good energy is sent right to us and we absorb it readily. It’s off the scale. It’s bold, up tempo, strong beats, thumping bass lines, it’s cool, it’s edgy. They take crunching guitar, intricate riffs and make the feel layered. It’s poppy and fizzing, but punky and sharp, like 70s New York sounds, with a massive indie stamp added in. Tilly’s voice is sweet, strong and loud, and really punctuates the punk feel. It’s a combination of Blondie, Transvision Vamp and the Ting Tings, but it’s current and individual and completely original too. The venue is one massive ripple of bouncing bodies as far as you can see. This girl has us eating out of her hand – she’s bright, she’s bubbly and chirpy and comes across as loving what she does, in fact the entire band do. During the instrumental of one song, Tilly asks if we’ll all get down low, to crouch down on the floor…she actually manages to get all 500 people down at floor level, as the music builds, nearing the hook, she warns us to be ready. It builds and builds until suddenly she screams for us to all get up and go wild, just as the hook comes in and she bursts back into song. It’s wired, the place has gone bonkers. Wow, I’ve never seen this before but it’s genius, it’s created such a buzz, something amazing to be a part of. Brilliant set, brilliant songs, one memorable performance – this girl is one to watch. I will certainly be looking out for her and will definitely be at another of her shows. Bloody brilliant ,Tilly Louise, thank you.
1/ Join the Club
3/ Be Like You
4/ Baggy T Shirt
5/ Make me a Robot
6/ Own Worst Critic
Zuzu – headliner
Confidently arriving centre stage, looking as though Alessandro Michele himself had styled her, the fantastic Zuzu enters the stage. Exclaiming in her famous Liverpudlian accent that she wasn’t sure we’d all be here, but really thanks for coming. It’s like she’s surrounded in a Technicolor aura. Her album, ‘Queensway Tunnel’ was released this year, and we’re to hear lots of material from this tonight.
Encouraging us to all join in and sing along, she launches into ‘Timing’. It’s fast, it’s fierce, it’s loud, we’re off to another high energy impactful performance. All band members give this everything they’ve got and the joy is brimming over…the drummer is bouncing in his seat pounding that drum kit. Zuzu interacts brilliantly with her band members, it’s so good to watch. She s dancing with guitarists, sharing the mic with them, turning to face the drummer and joyfully dancing around. Art pop, glam pop, dream pop’ meets solid indie pop, with real emphasis on guitars. As a crowd, we’ve reached a new high, it’s on another level in here now. Zuzu has upped the ante (if that was even possible). We’re a ticking bomb that she lit the fuse on – it’s gonna go off!!
Between songs there are introductions, banter and genuine thanks. She’s truly mesmerising to watch – swinging her guitar about whilst dancing, but expertly not missing a single word or note. She gives off attitude whilst performing, but it’s likeable, it’s cool. It’s ‘don’t like it, don’t watch then’ attitude and the crowd can’t get enough! When not playing her guitar the performance becomes yet more fascinating. Standing at the mic, her arms become her expression, using them and her hands to make shapes and dance. It’s very expressive. The sound is intense, the lyrics are intriguing and interesting. Her trademark accent is exaggerated when singing, it really gives edginess – the Scouse identity, the links to Liverpool which inspire her so much. It’s very clever, we all know the iconic bands that sing in the deliberate northern accent or the exaggerated ‘Manc’ or Mancunian accent, but rarely is the Scouse accent exaggerated in such a way. It’s inspired and works brilliantly. Zuzu has style in abundance, carrying off the Gucci style ‘glam geek’ perfectly tonight in sequined dress, vintage velvet jacket and oversized glasses – confident, edgy, eccentric and eclectic. We LOVE her.
She has an immense following and appeals to all ages. One fan present tonight, Jamie Petherbridge, at 11 years old was at his first standing gig, had got a spot at the barrier and seemed to be loving it, already having been given the set list by Tilly Louise! I’m sure this, his first ‘mosh pit experience’, will be one he’ll treasure! Zuzu has certainly given us a superb show!
The guitars seem to get louder, more intense and the music more vibrant as the night goes on: dreamy and hazy at times with fading and a softening, then raw and almost grunge like, but with that impactful, clear voice. It feels like she’s standing there singing just for each of us individually. She somehow portrays the subject matter of each song in such a way that we identify, we totally get it! It’s story telling via the medium of song at its best. These themes are personal to her, but we all empathise, understand – we’ve been there. She puts it plainly, sings about the stuff that frustrates her with real irony and clever wit. Classic lines that stay in your head, moments of pure brilliance. It’s inspired, it’s poetic yet it’s hard hitting and you want to dance to it at the same time. Zuzu intertwines tales of love, loss, anger and betrayal with banging bass, multi faceted guitar riffs in layers, and melodic, catchy and uplifting vocals, and the ‘dancey’ differing drum beats. It’s a magical atmosphere, the crowd experience has been one of a kind. Zuzu as a performer is a real crowd pleaser, but also, we’ve felt the stories, the themes behind these songs and I like to think we’ve laughed along with Zuzu, with her sarcasm, her Scouse wit, and the way she s dealt with past hurts by turning them into something that can be celebrated, learned from, sung along to,danced to. It’s sheer brilliance.
The album ‘Queensway Tunnel’ IS spectacular, and having the songs performed live tonight is an experience none of us will forget. Buy the album, go see Zuzu live, it’s true, one of a kind stuff. This intelligent, stylish, cool, personable, talented, creative and ‘very proud to be Scouser’ makes the city she loves even prouder of her, and tonight in her home town of Liverpool in the pouring rain she shone like the true star that she is, and lit us all up for a few hours. I am totally in awe, thank you Zuzu.
2/ Beauty Queen
3/ Lie to Myself
4/ Skin and Bone
5/ Never Again
6/ Get Off
7/ My Old Life
9/ Bevy Head
10/ The Van is Evil
11/ Distant Xmas
12/ All Good
13/ What you Want
14/ Endlessly Yours
15/ Queensway Tunnel
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