Zuzu and Roman Lewis - The Water Rats Review - 5/11/18

Roman Lewis walks onstage, reserved and half hidden by a mop of curls. He starts his set with Midnight in Paris, a lament on love and longing. The song instantly opens up with “still a part of me/ won’t let me through this atrocity love/. It’s the kind of nostalgia you can’t get sick of indulging in, it’s dreamy and soaked in sentimentality, taking you to the softest, sweetest place of love. From the moment I left the venue, I knew this was someone featuring on my future Spotify playlists.

After a couple of songs Lewis quipped that he is 17 at an 18+ event. Not only is there a professional maturity beyond his years but his compositions are years ahead of him. He serves as a stark reminder of the vulnerability of a singer song-writer; as he introduced his song Ways he bumbled explaining that he isn’t a rapper, but executes the rap fantastically.

Roman finished his set with his biggest hit Mindless Town. This song has gathered over half a million listens on Spotify and is getting the exposure it, frankly, deserves. “Let me in/ Let me shout, let me say that I'm an isle again/ Let me weep” he belts, voice gruff and breaking, suddenly explosive, an invocation, a prayer. He finished his set by inviting the audience to sing a simple melody alongside him, evoking the kind of heart swelling that characterises his sound.

In Lewis there is a distinct semblance of Jeff Buckley circa Sin-é, young, full of potential and with a remarkable voice. I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on him: as he walked off stage I was excited to see the new things this artist is going to create and also by the fact that I got to see him live at all.

Zuzu then comes to stage clad in a pink, glittery suit “what’s happening London?” she exclaims in her scouse accent. From her first song it’s evident that there is a remarkable energy to her. One moment she is feigning discontent, the next rolling her eyes or looking up into sky and, in part, it’s these idiosyncrasies that make Zuzu so lovable.

After the first song the glittery jacket comes off “sorry fashion, let you down again” she jokes. She’s open with the audience, quick to make a joke and generous in spirit. A frequent comparison has been made between Zuzu and Courtney Barnett and it’s understandable; the twist of pop and rock with a strong accent feeding through on the occasional word is undeniably similar, but with Zuzu’s English charm.

A clear highlight of Zuzu’s set was her cover of Cardi B’s Be Careful. The introductory beat is translated into a guitar riff and the song swings as she almost spits out each word, perfectly emanating the bitterness that can only be directed at an ex. When the concert had ended I couldn’t help but overhear several individuals comment on just how fantastic a cover it was.

Zuzu signs off by thanking the audience, clearly genuinely in awe of the turn out, and ends with All Good, “her favourite.” Beginning with a dronish tone and with an almost militant drum roll breaking out into chorus this is a song you can’t help but commit at least a small bop to; it’s immediately catchy. Publically a huge fan of all things sci-fi this passion finds its way into her work; “Take me to your favourite planet/try my best to understand it” she sings reminding us that there is a genuine and lively nature to Zuzu that makes her a delight to watch.

cover: Amazing Tunes Zuzu shot: Deadpress

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