19th August | Rough Trade
Shura was onstage at Rough Trade for a grand total of 27 minutes.
Dressed in what she called her “casual Pope outfit” topped with a blue, wide-brimmed hat, she perched awkwardly on a wobbly stool that was slightly too tall for purpose. She opened with ‘side effects’, the second track taken from her new record, forevher. It was completely stripped back to just one guitar and one voice; her sweet, earnest tones orbited the wide brim of her hat like tiny moons circling Uranus, every now and again ricocheting off one another and causing a minor reverb.
She addressed her crowd every now and again, looking up from underneath the wide brim of the hat to introduce her second of five songs, ‘forever’ – “Spelled the proper way!” she assured us. It’s a delicately balanced song. The lyrics ebb and flow between short stabs of the guitar like the wave sample at the opening of the track on record. It tells the story of a date to Coney Island (“It’s like Brighton…No, wait. It’s like Blackpool”) and falling quickly, unafraid, in love. She whispered into the mic, “Together / Forever” over and over, like a child writing their mother a Valentine’s Day card. It’s completely endearing, sweet to the taste.
The introduction of ‘religion (u can lay your hands on me)’ was met by a gasp from the crowd. We all smiled in agreement. It was stripped back to the extent that notes were lost and awkward pauses were filled with little giggles, but it really didn’t matter because the potency of the lyrics was so strong. “Oh girl, don’t stop, please / You can lay your hands on me” the 30-strong crowd whispered along with her, hanging onto every word like a devoted lover. It was an intimate affair, but didn’t for a second feel overbearing.
Three out of five songs down, she turned back the clock to 2016 and ‘Touch’. It’s a fan-favourite that, on record, thumps hard with muted kick drums and wiry background synths. In the flesh, stripped back to its bare minimum, its lyrics are fully exposed and given the space they need to breathe. “There’s a love between us still but something’s changed and I don’t know why,” stuck to the tongue like hot tea. And as soon as it became introspective, Shura pulled us back to reality. “Wow, I think I just burped into the mic. Sorry about that. You know I once snorted into a mic?”
She closes her 27-minute set with ‘flyin” before popping next door to sign copies of her new album. The song was rough around the edges – chords missed and chuckles aplenty, but it was sung with such sincerity that you couldn’t help but take it completely seriously. Shura’s set at Rough Trade may have only been 27 minutes long, but it was 27 minutes I am much better off for.
Listen to ‘Flyin” from the new album here: