Shamir @ Broadcast, Glasgow, 25 Jun
Shamir delivers a confident, powerful and entertaining set tonight in Glasgow's Broadcast putting him and his astonishing voice centre stage
Everyone knows Shamir from his 2014 hit On the Regular, and most know the album which carried it, Ratchet, an equally catty and hyperactive debut of party songs from a brilliant lyricist with a perfect countertenor voice. There are few here to see him in a basement venue in Glasgow, barely more than the smattering of people who turned up early to see the superb solo punk set from Handsome Eric.
Shamir begins with I Can’t Breathe, a new song about police brutality, the title of course coming from Eric Garner’s last words. Simple verses tell us what should have been the simple story of the events that led to the exaggerated response, depicted by Shamir’s haunting, plaintive chorus of Garner’s words. It is obliteratingly good, wiping away any audience expectations of the Ratchet version of Shamir turning up today to give a party set.
He straightforwardly refuses to play anything from Ratchet, telling us he will "self-combust" if it’s requested. We're later treated to In for the Kill, however it’s nothing like the album version, the strings and synths giving way to sparse, scratchy guitar alone. The focus is very much on Shamir’s latest album Resolution, which is a self-produced lo-fi effort on bandcamp, with Shamir telling us “Spotify can go lick its own ass.” New songs like Dead Inside and Glass all reference the silver linings Shamir can see having gotten through both fame and a mental health crisis in recent years, with the lyrics continually referencing the inner strength he's found in spite of others. The set finishes with a swirling cover of Ariana Grande’s No Tears Left To Cry, which fits perfectly with Shamir’s current mindset.
Everything about the set is stripped back. The band is a simple three-piece, there are no synths, only a grungey guitar which Shamir plays strung backwards. Over it all hovers Shamir’s voice, which is the real draw here. The exclusion of the frivolity, the synths, the dance beats, all place Shamir himself centre stage. With distractions pushed to one side, he's revealed to be an artist of profound depth, sensitivity and, above all, confidence. He has confidence in his angst, confidence in his talent and the confidence to inhabit whichever personality he wants, again confident in the knowledge that it will entertain. It does.