Noise Pop REVIEW: Bruno Major makes splashy SF debut

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Bruno Major

Photos: Alessio Neri

SAN FRANCISCO — Add Bruno Major to the long list of English crooners who can sing American soul with the best of them. Making his San Francisco debut at a sold-out Noise Pop show at The Chapel, Major came took the soul sensibilities of Sam Smith, adding bluesy guitars into the mix.

Bruno Major’s voice on Tuesday was reminiscent of Coldplay’s Chris Martin, mixed with a pinch of James Blake and a whisper of a young Paul Simon, though to compare him to anyone else is to leave out the thing that makes him so special: his difference. Major’s vocal range was impressive, his musical composition modern but classic, familiar but unique.

During his set, Major told the story of how he attempted to write and record one song a month for an entire year, and how he would struggle to find the “perfect note” at times, coming close to giving up. Each time, he was saved by “a tune, sound or melody” coming to him at just the right moment to create the perfect song for him.

Something that is not evident on record is Bruno Major’s guitar-playing abilities. He let that shine as well, at times, at The Chapel. His backing band held its own throughout the night, but Major shined every time he held the spotlight on his own with either a guitar or keyboard.

His set consisted of the songs that comprise the songwriting project, an album called A Song For Every Moon, including the hit “Easily.”  His lyrics painted vivid pictures of heartbreak, love and longing. More impressively, he covered John Coltrane, showing off some fancy fretwork.

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Major’s Noise Pop performance was just the fourth stop of 16 on his first North American tour.

Bluesy Vallejo singer-songwriter Azuah opened the show with a 30-minute set, backed by a band. She appeared shy on stage, yet held her own when it came to singing and performing. Azuah performed the sole song she has available on Spotify, “I Don’t Care,” and a handful of others.

Bruno Major’s keyboardist, Eloise Alexandra, went next with a 15-minute solo set, with just an acoustic guitar. Alexandra is a classic crooner, blending modulating doo-wop-esque vocals with Jack Johnson-like island guitar playing.

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