REVIEW: Shamir, XOYO London, 20/05/15

The buzz around his first two singles – and the carefree silliness of the videos – you might expect Shamir to arrive on stage fired out of a glitter cannon accompanied with muppets. Instead, when he treads out, he’s so politely diffident that he comes across like he’s just rounding off Year 12 at charm school.

The album Ratchet is brilliantly varied. Almost exhaustingly so. Next to the hyperactive disco pop of On The Regular and Call It Off, the record’s dark stripped back tracks (like Darker) don’t really work brilliantly on the record – although the emotional impact of his voice does help them convert marginally better live. It’s his voice that most people want to discuss about Shamir – its androgynous countertenor pitch been much discussed elsewhere – but you’ll be delighted to hear that in speaking he shares an identical tone and softness.

When Shamir focuses on pop, the effect is joyfully brilliant. The euphoric energy of tracks like Make a Scene fills the room with delight. Who needed that sodding glitter getting in your clothes anyway?

But don’t mistake Shamir’s Sunday school manners as a desperate need to be liked, as he seems to be determined to take risks. The choice of cover version (Joyce Manor‘s Christmas Card – “sorry you don’t know it, it’s fucking American”) has people panicking for confirmation that thankfully we’ve still got 220 shopping days to go.

He’s certainly visibly grateful to have finally unburdened himself of his new album. There can’t be many singers who curtail their final song (here Head In The Clouds) to plunge into the crowd to embrace the front row. 20 minutes later the drums had been packed away and he was still snuggling into his burgeoning fan base. The love is mutual; there are arms wide-open waiting for whatever Shamir does next.

Bruce Daisley

Ratchet by Shamir can be ordered here.

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Shamir, XOYO London, 20/05/15
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