Rachel Chinouriri @ SWG3, Glasgow, 30 Apr

Performing just days before the release of her debut album, Rachel Chinouriri impresses with a stripped back acoustic set

Live Review by Tara Hepburn | 08 May 2024
  • Rachel Chinouriri

On the same night Rachel Chinouriri is playing SWG3’s Warehouse, 1990s favourites Kula Shaker are also performing at the venue – in its much larger Galvanizers space. Security staff have the task of identifying who's there for which gig and pointing them in the right direction. It's a pretty straightforward split, with different generations drifting off through different doors. But there’s a notable style detail that is popular with Chinouriri’s young female fanbase too – oversized sequined hair clips. It’s a look that has become the London-born indie singer’s signature and serves as proof that she has successfully built up a fervent fanbase in the years she has spent impatiently waiting to drop her first album.

The show at SWG3 takes place on a whirlwind week for the 25-year-old, just days before the release of What a Devastating Turn of Events. The road to that album release has been a lengthy one, something Chinouriri reflects on between songs: “I had an album ready, but then there was the pandemic, and then I was on EPs, and then I was doing support slots.” It’s a familiar merry-go-round for new artists who find themselves signed to major labels. So it comes as no surprise that she’s grateful as the day draws nearer.

She performs the bulk of the album over the course of a 30-minute acoustic set, introducing the new material with funny anecdotes about bad boyfriends, nights out (Dumb Bitch Juice), Black Britishness and mental health struggles (My Blood). She has a best friend energy that really resonates. When an audience member reveals that they recently moved to the UK from Zimbabwe, Chinouriri is open-hearted in her advice to look for moments of connection and belonging.

The pared back arrangements shine a brighter spotlight on Chinouriri’s vocals and keeps the focus on her candid lyrics. It does, of course, take some of the punch out of the songs, many of which are electric guitar heavy on record and owe more than a passing debt to Chinouriri’s first musical love: Britpop. This is particularly true of the show’s opener The Hills, an alt-rock anthem that still manages to generate a room-wide singalong even in its stripped back form. Her latest single Never Need Me goes without its driving beat, but that doesn’t stop a chunk of the crowd jumping along where the drums would be. Thanks to Assai Records, who are hosting tonight's outstore event, it’s a real treat to catch someone with Rachel Chinouriri’s talent on such a small stage. But when the songs are this anthemic, it’s hard not to yearn for the full instrumentation.