Zuzu, Peaness, Shards: Jacaranda Records Phase One, Liverpool

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Zuzu

Liverpool pop songstress Zuzu played a headline set at Jacaranda Records Phase One, Getintothis’ Lewis Ridley was there to admire her drive to perform.

For a sci-fi lover, the rise of Zuzu in recent months has been somewhat astronomical.

Tipped by Getintothis and the team of judges at The GIT Award 2016 as the One to Watch winner, she has now gained national radio play, various high profile festival slots while gaining the support of Huw Stephens and featured in The Guardian recently as their rising star.

Indeed, the newspaper heralds her as ‘the future of Liverpool pop‘, and a headline slot on Seel Street was always going to be reflected on as an important stepping stone to that mark.

First up were Shards, they’re led by the smooth figure of Alex McKenzie. As a collective, they have a shimmering swagger about them which is almost hypnotic.

Their chiming single Reflections was this writer’s pick for Getintothis’ best tracks of 2018 earlier this year. It’s contrasted with the snarling Who You Talking To? which sees tempo lifted and more noise made, the best type of it.

They closed with Shades of White and Red, it’s extended outro with McKenzie on the floor flicking switches to create an inferno of white noise, upon his swift exit there was rapturous applause for a band making moves quickly.

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Chester’s Peaness were next, and on Merseyside they’ve drawn attention in more than name alone. A three piece, two powerful vocalists in Jessica Brannay and Carleia Balbenta, and a drummer, in Rachel Williams, that dictates the course of play.

Branney entertains throughout, whether in song or with pizza small talk, The Merchant, being the focus this time. Two news tracks about being fed up and quitting work go down a treat. There’s a special delight in the front row, where groovers are doing so to every single note.

They exit, typically, with laughter. Perhaps a band enjoying themselves isn’t always seen as an important ingredient, but here it added to Peaness‘ set massively. That enjoyment resonated with a packed Phase One.

Zuzu

Last up, and very much the girl of the hour, Zuzu entered subdued. Something wasn’t right, it was clear. She sorrowfully explained how ill she was, and had been all day.

But here’s the thing, how often is it heard that bands and artists never quite reach their potential. Whether it be turned heads or a lack of drive, it is always a sorry waste of talent. Zuzu has that talent, it’s clear to see. But she also has, it was clear last night to see, an unrelenting will to perform.

Like a star, she continued. Taking a gulp of water whenever possible and apologising otherwise, she made her way through seven tracks to the very highest standard she could. When things wouldn’t quite fall, her band had her back.

“Thank you so much for coming down, I’m really sorry, I should be better…” she said, interrupted by applause from a packed Phase One on a midweek for EVOL.

New single Dark Blue and set closer All Good remained superb. Sure, it would have been great to see her at her dazzling best, but we learned more about Zuzu last night than we would have under those circumstances. It would have been easy to give in, no questions asked and certainly no blame, but with grit, determination, and style; still, she continued.

That’s why she won’t be that sorry waste of talent. She’ll be back, initially in the form of a support slot on The Courteeners‘ UK tour, including an Echo Arena date on Friday, November 30.

Sometime in the future, this night will be written off in terms of musical output, but it will be held up as an important moment in her career. When Zuzu decided the show must go on, it will see her go far.

Images by Getintothis’ Gary Coughlan

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