18th October | O2 Academy
Photos: Paul Lippiatt
For an act to sell out the 2,000 capacity O2 Academy within hours of ticket release and have people eager to pay in excess of £50 on resale websites to experience your work is no mean feat. Throw in the fact that Mura Masa only released his eponymous debut LP in July of this year (peaking at number 19 in the official album charts) and you can understand the magnitude of the ever-growing cult-like appeal of the Guernsey native, real name Alex Crossan. Bringing his own brand of guest-heavy electronic music, those dedicated few present were treated to one of three UK dates on a tour stretching across the continent and through North America, witnessing a masterclass in precision and performance.
Opening the evening to a packed floor was DJ King Henry, who provided a thumping beat and steady anticipation for the main event. It’s not often that you see a venue so full this early on in the evening, however it quickly became apparent that people were looking to stake initial claims of prime positions for the headline act. Following this was God Colony and Flohio, a pair of DJs with a London-based rapper showcasing their individual and combined talents with explosive clarity. With the audience hooked upon every word and having already received backing from Radio One’s Huw Stephens, it seems as though the act has the potential and innovation to flourish from the capital’s current urban renaissance period.
When Mura finally appeared to a chorus of appreciation and sea of smartphones, it was an understated arrival, obscured by billowing smoke and with his equipment set up towards the back of the stage. With an acoustic drum kit to his left, electronic drum pads to his right, a keyboard in front of him and a guitar draped around his shoulder, a clear and poignant image was created of a man wanting to let his music do the talking. Kicking off the set alone on stage with album opener ‘Messy Love’, he hastily demonstrated that he is not an artist requiring his featuring artists to craft a great tune and alluring performance, before introducing frequent collaborator Bonzai to perform the bombastic ‘Nuggets’, a highlight.
Any faint hopes that the crowd held for an appearance from the likes of A$AP Rocky or Charli XCX to perform upon their tracks were dashed by the emergence of Fliss, who subsequently provided vocals for most of the songs and has become a staple part of Mura Masa’s shows over the past year. This, however, was of disappointment to few, if any, of the raucous crowd who celebrated the exceptional musical relationship on show with jaw-gaping awe mixed with energetic moshing. Fliss ensued to display that there is no vocal she cannot master, cutting through crowd-favourites ‘1 Night’, ‘Helpline’ and ‘Love$Ick’ with potent ability against the backdrop of Mura’s ethereal sounds.
For the encore, Mura again shifted the focus back upon himself, performing ‘give me The ground’ and Damon Albarn collaboration ‘Blu’, channeling the sound associated with Bon Iver’s recent work to create atmospheric bliss as he had done with his earlier cover of Foals track ‘Night Swimmers.’ For the finalé, Mura’s guests returned for a triumphant rendition of ‘Firefly’, the artist’s most recognisable song. Supplying an exit as nondescript as his entrance, the young performer thanked his crowd, put down his drumsticks and walked off, silently basking in the adoration of all present. There is an often assumed scepticism surrounding electronic acts that they do no more than press a button and wave their hands in the air. This is not true of Mura Masa: with performances as marvellous as this, he has proven himself to be a superb musician and a pioneer of his art form.
Check out the video for ‘1 Night’ below.