Live Review: Zuzu

Zuzu

The Bodega, Nottingham, 1st March 2020

Words and Photos by Gary Lambert

Sunday night in Nottingham has a curious vibe.  It is as busy as you would expect a city centre to be at that time, but with a genteel politeness.  I’ll be honest it confused me more than the one-way system.  But I made it to The Bodega with the helpful assistance of some worse-for-wear denizens of Robin Hood’s home just in time for the start of the show.

Local support act Blondes had more dark hair than their name would suggest, but also were a really exciting band to have on the bill.  Made up of students based in BlondesNottingham, the cheers that greeted the band at the end of the set were well deserved from really good audience for a 7.20pm start on a Sunday night.  Blondes‘ sound is a lovely light and jangly indie pop which instantly makes you want to befriend the band, and the harmonies and shared vocals they have makes the band stand out.  I was impressed too with how such a young band handled themselves on stage between songs with no awkward silences or insecurity.  In fact, the preamble to Honey regarding the importance of speaking up on matters of mental health came across as sincere and caring rather than an attempt to shoehorn additional meaning to a gorgeous pop track.

If you have watched Zuzu before you will recognise Munkey Junkey as her guitarist Munkey JunkeyKurran.  You might not expect him to move from guitar hero to an exciting frontman leading his backing band towards the sound of the future.  The backing band is a new addition to the Munkey Junkey live set, and provides an exciting contrast with their smooth playing in contrast to Kurran’s snappy auto-tuned vocals.  The songs of Munkey Junkey take into account his globetrotting heritage with references to England, India, north America, and the Middle East which results in a feel of the music already being a worldwide brand like Post Malone.  I do love too how Munkey Junkey makes you connect with his songs which are each as personal as a diary entry.

The reason the room was packed out though was the one and only Zuzu.  On the back of a memorable hometown show on the Friday night, the Queen of Emo Pop was in fine fettle indeed as even more confidence than usual caroused through her veins, voice and guitar.  Apart from the unreleased tracks, every song Zuzu sang was accompanied by the most pleasant and fun singalong in the crowd as the personality which she constantly evokes rubs off on them.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the audience were singing in her trademark scouse accent.

It goes to show how much Zuzu‘s status as a pop star has expanded that her cover of Lizzo’s magnificent Truth Hurts does not create an audience reaction to compare with Zuzu’s own All Good, Beauty Queen, and recent release Skin and Bone.  The latter feels like it could have been released by any number of pop music behemoths such is the Zuzusmooth perfection in the undulating rhythms, and the roaring accompaniment to the punchline of “they say my rabbit doesn’t exist” is the most visceral example of the community that a Zuzu gig generates.  Until the massive queue post-show to meet her, buy some merch (only if you want, there’s no sales pressure), and get a hug (she does pressure people into hugs).

It’s obvious that this tour has seen Zuzu make a step up in terms of venues and crowds.  There is a sweet honesty to her when she tells the room how she can’t believe that so many people want to come to see her away from her hometown.  Zu, you’re really going to have to get used to it as they are going to be coming in droves every time you play.

 

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