The Art School, Glasgow
Clichés aside, 2016 has been a huge year for Mura Masa. Since grabbing fifth place on the BBC’s Sound of 2016 list in January, his upwards trajectory has been constant (that’s not to say that he’s destined for the dizzying heights of pop stardom, nor does he have a desire to be). It is extremely difficult to stick to your own path and gain national daytime airplay, yet Mura Masa (twenty-year old Alex Crossan IRL) has done exactly that, Live Lounge and all.
The beauty of his production, and deserved success, lies in the inability to pin it down: on the surface, it’s R&B influenced electronica, but often with bright pop hooks, and sudden trap-like drops; sometimes with beautiful vocals from his continuous collaborator, Bonzai, who also warms up for him this evening, and other times solely instrumental.
Tonight – as well as every other night of the tour, I would imagine – Bonzai’s warm-up certainly delivers. The evident buzz on stage, a combination of her band’s excitement and her own fiery energy, reverberates around the room. Her material is distinctive, drawing out punky derivations of everything from hip hop to drum and bass. ‘Bodrhán’, her new single, appropriately named after a traditional Irish drum, gets the best reaction, with the crowd bouncing in-sync to a track most of them are hearing for the first time.
Opening with ‘Lovesick’ – with Bonzai filling in for A$AP Rocky, who features on the recent re-release – Mura Masa makes his mark from the outset. His quiet confidence is earned, with subtle smiles of appreciation, if not surprise, shimmering through as The Art School loses itself to the drops on ‘Hell’ and ‘Lotus Eater’, both from his initial mixtape, Soundtrack to a Death (2014).
From the remix of Foals’ ‘Night Swimmers’ to ‘Love For That’ and ‘What If I Go’, Bonzai controls the vibe, with Crossan comfortably busying himself on his semi-circle of electronics.
Encores tend to be predictable, embarrassing, and given without asking. There wasn’t one planned tonight, though, but nobody moves without it. Returning to the stage after a few minutes, Crossan admits, “We don’t have any more songs, so we’ll just do ‘Lotus Eater’ again”. The importance is “we”: he has no ego, and tonight is as much about Bonzai as it is Mura Masa.
The crowd are even more exuberant, Bonzai surfs, and Crossan stands in awe. With an album finally on its way early next year, they’ll certainly have more to show off when unexpected encores come around. And they’ll most probably come around more often.
Photo: Fame Magazine