As we walked into the backstage area of Rock City, we were immediately enveloped in a hug by Liverpool-based indie singer-songwriter Zuzu. Hand-picked by indie-rock hall-of-fame The Courteeners as a supporting act for their UK tour, Zuzu was everything her energetic, sassy music would suggest. We had a chance to catch up with her before the show.
So how did it get set up with you supporting The Courteeners? What’s it been like?
Z: Liam heard some of our demos and then they asked us on tour. It was really cool because it wasn’t through any agents or anything like that. It’s the dream, really, to be going on tour with people who want you there. Having that level of support is just mad, especially for a band at our level. Liam’s sweet, very nice and friendly. He actually came to a gig of ours before we went on tour and I got to hang out with him quite a bit then.
You’ve also supported some other great acts like Tom Grennan and Clean Cut Kid, have you kept in touch with them?
Z: Yeah Tom Grennan and I have the same manager, so I see Tom quite a bit. He lets me support him which is really really nice because he doesn’t have to do that. And he’s really nice to my mum, which is how you know if someone is really nice, isn’t it?
What’s your dream band to tour with?
Z: Cardi B. (laughs). No for real though, Cardi B. I think she’s sick. She is literally like my inspiration right now. Also, Courtney Barnett, because I’ve played one show with her and she’s the nicest lady on Planet Earth. Some people think I sound a bit like her, but I think it’s just because we both sing in our accents. She’s so nice, I cried after that show.
Have you got any interesting hobbies outside of music?
Z: I draw a bit, I like to make comics and illustrations of people who have done me solids. People like getting drawn, I give it to them for birthdays and Christmas so I don’t have to buy them a gift (laughs). No, that’s not true, it comes from the heart.
What’s next after this?
Z: Well I’ve got a Christmas song coming up, and we’re shooting the video on one of our days off. I used to work as an elf in the grotto in town, last year before any of this stuff happened, and I wrote a Christmas song at the time. A lot’s changed since then, when I started I was fucking broke and thought nothing was happening with my music, and by the time I’d finished the job we’d signed the record deal with Virgin. So yeah, we’ve got that to look forward to.
As we left her dressing room, Zuzu gave us a final heads-up for what to expect that evening: to be crushed in a raucous crowd of die-hard fans, and to be absolutely drenched in beer. She wasn’t wrong on either front, and as she left the stage following an incredible performance with pitch-perfect vocals, me and my partner were already wringing the Strongbow Dark Fruits out of our hair. The crowd grew increasingly boisterous as the second supporting act, Gerry Cinnamon, took to the stage. One eagle-eyed football fan caught sight of Jordan Pickford in a box at the back, which of course led to a chorus of football chants so deafening that they’re still ringing in my ears now.
When the Courteeners at last came onto the stage it was with a definite, and perhaps well-deserved, swagger. Plunging into their opening song ‘Are You In Love With a Notion?’, the band was nearly drowned out by the crowd’s word-perfect rendition of the old favourite. The setlist was aptly chosen, with numerous classic hits (‘Summer’, ‘No One Will Ever Replace Us’ and ‘The 17th’, to name a few) interspersed with some new songs, such as ‘Heavy Jacket’, which spoke of great things to come from the band. The impact of the night was not lessened by an unfortunate incident in which a girl fell unconscious in the heaving crowd and had to be carried out by paramedics, leading to a 25-minute delay mid-show.
On the contrary, the quick professionalism of Rock City Security coupled with the gracious concern from Liam Fray as he returned to centre-stage was highly admirable. Indeed, as the band finished with crowd-favourite ‘Not Nineteen Forever’ (dedicated to Jordan Pickford), followed by ‘What Took You So Long?’, it was difficult to spot a member of the crowd who wasn’t dripping with sweat and/or beer and wearing a huge smile. In all, I think the enthusiasm of the crowd can be best described by one of Liam Fray’s comments between songs: ‘Fucking hell, Nottingham, you do realise it’s only Monday, don’t you?’.