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  • Writer's pictureLeon Riccio

BBC Introducing: MIYA MIYA, Munboi, and Emily Craig at the Purple Turtle

Munboi - Credit: Shaun Dagnall

This week’s BBC Introducing gig brought a line-up of pop-infused talent to the Purple Turtle’s stage, showcasing an acoustic-pop set from Emily Craig, an energetic show from artsy hip-hop artist Munboi and friends, and Berkshire's best guitar-pop band MIYA MIYA.

The show had marked a visible difference from BBC Introducing gigs of the pre-Covid world, where punters would buy a drink in the club’s green-and-purple-themed entrance, mooch around upstairs for a song or two, and then disappear into the venue’s enourmous smoking area to continue their big night out on err, a Wednesday evening.

This Thursday evening however, the bar’s upstairs area was packed with both punters and fans alike, and unsurprisingly, the majority of those in the venue stayed for the show.

Opening the evening’s gig in a hot-pink two-piece suit, singer/songwriter Emily Craig ran through a half-hour set of acoustic-pop tunes, accompanied by guitarist Alex Hollingsworth. The duo opened with ‘Time’’ a combination of Alex’s slow bluesy riffs and Emily’s classically-trained vocals, which moved toward an RnB-ish angle on this track.

The third song choice, a Venuzuelan folk song Ms Craig had translated the title to ‘Calling of the Full Moon,’ was sung fluently in Spanish. Alex’s fingerpicking on the hollow-body electric and gentle vocal supports on the chorus made this unusual choice of track particularly stand out.

Lamenting the absurdity of modern living, the well-travelled performer’s smooth, honeyed vocals cut through the layers of guitar reverb on ‘Post-Truth’, one of two singles released on her Spotify profile. The opening show, although relatively slow-paced by the Turtle's standards, was kept interesting by the changing instrumentation, with Emily switching between acoustic guitar and keyboard. That, and her sheer talent. She got a large round of applause from the bar by the end.

Chatting before playing his set, singer/songwriter/producer Munboi (Brandon James) said: “It all started with me and my mates just hanging out in a shed.

“I’ve got a new album that’s just come out called ‘Eudaimonia’. It’s about stoicism, and it’s based on the last two years of my life.”

Explaining his new motif of mindfulness, he added: “You can’t control everything, so focus on the things you can control you know? But you can interpret it [the album] how you want, I just want people to feel how they’re feeling.

“It’s all self-produced, mixed, and mastered, which took two years to do, so it’s nice to see the support we have for it.”

Credit: Shaun Dagnall

Despite being second on the bill, the alt-rapper brought the largest crowd with him. His first song of choice, ‘Swing My Way’, had the room singing along to the catchy hook, which matched his energetic live performance on the otherwise chill tune.

Switching between alt-rap, acoustic, and trap beats, Munboi had fun with the crowd performing solo for the first five tracks before his mates Ray Wills and Simba joined him for the last few songs. Ray kept to the relaxed bedroom-pop vibe of Munboi’s recordings, while Simba came out with harsher bars he had written on his phone.

Munboi’s set varied from party tunes, sampling jazz and 80s synths, to his more introspective and stripped-back works, and even sang along with Ray and Simba at one point. Ending the set with old-school hip-hop tune ‘Social Wisdom’ where the three switched between flows in a healthy competition, Munboi and co. left a strong impression on the revellers.

Left to right - Simba, Munboi, and Ray Wills. Credit: Shaun Dagnall
Headlining the Thursday night gig, pop band MIYA MIYA, fronted by Singers Jordan and Gini, opened with ‘Want You’, the four-pieces’ biggest standalone hit. The first thing that stood out was Jordan and Gini’s crystalline harmonies, which grabbed the audience front and centre. Gio, sporting a jet-black Gibson SG and accompanying shades, opened ‘Cold Blood’ with pop-punk-esque power chords, but gracefully avoided giving the band’s bubble-gum sound an unnecessary harder edge.

The Bracknell-based four even treated the audience to their latest unreleased new single, ‘Call Me When Tomorrow Ends’, which took on a far more sombre mood compared to the previous party tunes they had played. Clad with a punchy combo of fishnet stockings and a pinstripe blazer, Gini said to the crowd: “This song is about heartbreak. It’s about loving that person who maybe doesn’t feel the same anymore, and all you want them to do is call when tomorrow ends.”

Jordan took a step away from the guitar to play the keyboard accompanying Gini’s soulful solo performance. The song swelled until Gio and drummer James kicked in, giving the simple setup a more dynamic feel at its conclusion. Closing the set, the band played their latest release, ‘H8 Me 2’, which had the crowd bopping along to the palm-muted guitar. I even saw people tapping along from the outside smoking area.

Credit: Shaun Dagnall

To keep up with what’s next on Reading’s BBC Introducing shows, visit their Facebook page here.
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