Thursday evening I paid an overdue visit to one of the more intimate venues Minneapolis has to offer–First Avenue’s 7th St Entry. Nestled in the back stage right, I paused to take a breath. I could finally feel the tension escaping my body. It had been a chaotic week–my mind was tangled with “to do’s,”my shoulders taut with the thought of tomorrow, and the day after that (and the day after that). It was difficult to unravel at first, that’s why I told myself that despite the other “productive” work-related things I could be doing, I would make it out to Bruno Major’s show at The Entry.
I am so glad I did.
This time, no camera in tow. No bulky Canon bag. I came as I was–body fatigued, mind open, pining for Bruno’s soulful sensibilities to pacify the waves of worry and anxiety that had been capsizing me lately.
We all have those bouts of trepidation, time to time. I’ll admit, I have only more recently been more vocal about those “off” days. The beautiful thing about music, it can offer respite and refuge for the person listening and the artist creating. Bruno Major’s artistry and tender storytelling pulls at those heartstrings, as you can imagine, but also reminds me to give myself a little grace when I need it.
I’ll pass along a few words Bruno shared with us that night, just before he performed “There’s Little Left.”
“Most of these songs are about love, and I think that’s because love is a reflection of the environment in which it is created. And, music reflects the world around you. I think that the meaning of life, if there is one, is love.”
Love. It’s that simple isn’t it? We all want to love and feel loved. And, I don’t think he is just referring to the lovey-dovey romantic kind of love–tripping head over heels or trying to piece your heart back together. But also, self-love.
For those of you not familiar with this smooth and sultry R&B artist from North London, Bruno Major’s music is defined by soulful vocals and vulnerable lyrics, all propped up by a bluesy guitar. Thursday evening, he was joined by the very talented Eloise–whom he recruited after seeing a cover she did of him on Instagram–and backed by bass guitar and drums.
Incredibly endearing, Eloise’s opening act held the audience by a string, gently pulling us in. Just her and a guitar, Eloise’s jazz-tinted, shoo-be-doo-esque vocals rendered a normally buzzing pre-headliner show at the Entry, silent. There were merely a few mumbles throughout her performance–only the hiss of the beer taps and the subtle clinks of ice as someone paused to take a sip of their cocktail. For such a young crowd–wielding black X’s on their hands and pre-mature, peach-fuzz mustaches–I was blown away by just how reverent and respectful this crowd was. It was clear, we were all hear for the music.
Her lyrics were soft and velvety at times, and sometimes clever and cutting. “You bit your lip, but I show no interest. You used to have me undressed. Now I’m not so impressed.”
By far my favorite, her last song of the night, was “Hungover.” A post break up song soaked in red wine and do I still love him’s.
“Oh my head hurts, why don’t I put this shit to bed. I’m hungover, because I drowned every thought of you in a glass of red”
Following a warm applause, Bruno and his backing band–including Eloise on keyboard and vocals–came on stage. Bruno kicked things off with single “Wouldn’t Mean a Thing.”
Bruno Major’s set showcased the work of his debut album, a summation of his personal journey over the past twelve months. A Song For Every Moon is made up of 12 songs, which were individually created and released every month over the course of a year. Bruno walks us through the many messy emotions of love and heartbreak, joy and loss–an intimate continuity of the thoughts and feelings he was experiencing at the time.
Throughout 2017, Bruno’s tender-hearted, monthly confessionals have seduced a strong following of eager listeners. Modern and minimal electronic production, spliced with jazzy guitar riffs, every lunar release unravelled a story. As he shared with us, some songs came easily–and no, his hit single “Easily” was ironically not easy to write–and others were painstakingly difficult to create and produce.
Bruno was initially very bashful about sharing his work. The first song he ever felt was good enough to share with someone–his “mum”–was “The First Thing You See.”
As I kiss your tired shoulder While we spill our minds again Over our future growing older Not if, but when
Well, safe to say it was “good enough.” His confidence may have waxed and waned when the album was in the works. But, by the end, the near-and-dear compilation is certainly something to be proud of.
Bruno cracked a few jokes about how the majority of the songs are based on an ex-girlfriend. But, one song in particular, the lovelorn ballad “The Places We Won’t Walk,” completely shifted in meaning after the loss of his uncle. He took a few minutes to share the story behind this song:
“I like writing songs, I think it’s my favorite thing. My favorite thing about writing songs, they mean something to you. When you are making a piece of music, it can mean… well, normally it’s about my ex-girlfriend. This next song is no different, it’s also about my ex-girlfriend, haha. But, anyway, my uncle and auntie had been following my progress, doing a song for every moon. This song that I am about to play, it was their favorite. They had tickets to come to my show in London, and unfortunately my uncle passed away like a week before the show. The funeral was on the day of the show. So, my family, we went to the funeral. And, it was sad. But, they all surprised me and after the funeral they all crammed into this mini bus and came out and saw the whole thing. Anyway, I realized as I was playing this song, that it didn’t mean what I intended it to mean anymore. The lyrics meant something totally different. They made something much more.”
As I listened to the lyrics, my heart sank. It reminded me of my uncle Mike who passed away a year and a half ago–a strong, overt, outspoken man with a passion for music. The song took on a new meaning for me as well. I could see in some of the faces of those around me, it struck a delicate chord with them as well.
Children cry and laugh and play
Slowly hair will turn to gray
We will smile to end each day
In places we won’t walk
Bruno took pause after this song, a comforting silence blanketed the room. Soon after he erupted into a jammy follow up to such a somber moment–”Giant Steps.”
The last song of the night, before the encore, Bruno played his most popular single off A Song For Every Moon, Easily. Soon after, he did a quick shout out to his crew. Bruno had a lot of love for Eloise, their duet “Second Time” had me swooning.
“Eloise and I met like everyone else does now, on Instagram. Pixels on a screen, there she was. She did a cover of my songs and I just thought it was so amazing, I asked her to be in my band. She said yes! And here she is. If it’s alright with you, we’re going to sing a song together.”
We were drinking warm wine
From paper cups that we left outside
God I wished you were mine
As your skin lit up in the sunrise
Drinking warm wine out of paper cups, tangled up in the flurry of butterflies that chaperons new love, Bruno’s tales of heartbreak and heartache come full circle. Yes, your heart is going to break. Yes, tears will be shed and wallowing will be had. But, that intoxicating, love drunk feeling that we all feel when we meet that someone else… that’s when our hearts open up all over again.
Bruno and Eloise could have ended the show on that note, and I would have been satisfied. But, the closer of the night was another fan favorite, “Home.”
I’ll leave you with his closing outro:
I used to wonder, why I’m here, no rhyme no reason would appear, but since we’ve met, it’s loud and clear, I’m here to see you, home.
Thank you for a wonderful night of love and music, Bruno. Keep loving, living and creating.