It’s a homecoming show for Manchester’s main girl Shura tonight. Born in London but raised Northern by her Russian/English parents, Aleksandra Denton has been making and producing her own music since life as a teenager. After years of collaborations and uncertainty at the age of 22, Shura released hit single ‘Touch’ and the blogosphere exploded. Over a year later she takes the stage tonight at Manchester’s Gorilla.
First up however is Clean Cut Kid, hailing from Liverpool these genre-hazey boys and girl are immediately recognisable. Mike Halls’ perfectly crafted beard and trucker hat can be spotted from a mile off, it’s almost as though he’s on a transfer window from an American country rock band. New single ‘Runaway’ tramples on those expectations however, fast paced drums and mystical indie instrumentation undercut his unexpected but perfectly sweet and smooth vocal. The band finish up on mega tune ‘Vitamin C’. It’s catchy, twanging guitar riff turns heads and the ear-rattling bass drum hits keep them wanting more. Clean Cut Kid exquisitely create songs that encompass electronic indie and folk elements, and even with the somewhat sparse crowd at this point the band certainly capture everyone’s attention.
The crowd fills out before Shura’s performance, it seems to be predominantly gay couples and young females, so I’m somewhat blending in. A huge black and white backdrop of Shura’s futuristic ‘Indecision’ single artwork sets the scene as a funky melodic bass line comes in supported by electronic drum pad beats. I almost feel like I’ve been invited to an outer space disco as two huge glitter balls hang above the crowd, gently spinning as Shura graces the stage. The sound created just from a 4-piece band is incredible, electric guitar fuzz combined with the ear shattering bum-bum-click drum pattern creates a huge wall of sound in this modern electro-pop, as though a physical yet invisible barrier appeared between crowd and stage. We’re in awe. As Shura’s shoulder-length blonde hair falls gently across her face, powerful yet sultry tone whispers “there’s a love between us still…” and the crowd around scream and sing along for her hit ‘Touch’. The entire room is captivated by this timeless track.
Shura’s presence is somewhat mysterious but with a sense of just simply being a down to earth girl. There’s no gimmicks or shoddy dancing, just great tunes and honestly. Shura speaks of her Manchester beginnings – an open mic night just around the corner from Gorilla, her dad dropped her off. It’s refreshing and inspiring to hear her story, despite the depiction of her seeming overnight blog hype and success, Denton has been working her way up to this moment for years. Tonight’s show was an ultimate success, musically brilliant and sounding fresh as ever. The crowd is buzzing to see her career bloom and grow, and we know it will.