October 21, 2016 by Shane O'Connor
I think the first time I heard M83 I was listening to the radio while eating some Wendy’s in my car on break from my shift at Sears. That summer it was hard to avoid the weird synth-horn intro of M83’s hit single “Midnight City.” This was back in 2011, boy do I feel old. Though my musical tastes have changed a bit since then, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see M83 and Shura at the Fillmore Oct. 13.
You probably haven’t heard of the British singer, songwriter, producer Shura, but I imagine that will change soon. Playing alongside two bandmates, Shura entertained the Fillmore crowd with songs from her debut album “Nothing’s Real,” which came out this past July. Shura plays a brand of atmospheric electro-pop that harkens back to the synth-pop of the 1980s a bit. “2Shy” and “Touch” really stuck out to me. People were grooving around in time with the music as Shura showed off her great vocal skills.
Shura and her band were having a great time on stage as was a small knot of Shura-super fans in front of the stage. She looked right at home on stage, flashing a mischievous smile in between songs. Towards the end of her set she remarked that her and her band were “Losing our Philly virginity. The first time is always a bit awkward isn’t it?” This got a great response from the crowd. Closing with the song, “White Light,” Shura and the gang left it all on stage, going into a great extended jam at the end of the song. Shura even went so far as to start punching and generally abusing her Midi controller. It was pretty cool. Give her a listen, I’m sure she’ll be back in the city of brotherly love sooner or later.
M83, led by Anthony Gonzalez, came on stage to a loud round of applause and jumped right into the song “Reunion” from the double album “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.” Songs from that album would feature heavily throughout the night. With how dense the soundscapes on many M83 songs sound like on the album, it seemed weird that there were only five band members total. I imagined a whole fleet of synthesizer players for some reason or another. Even with just the five folks, the band sounded tight as heck. It seemed that each and every song extended into a real jam session on stage. It was neat to see M83 take some leeway with songs that are so tightly composed and structured on their albums.
With rotating light bars, strobes and a cool star-like light backdrop, M83’s stage production was as top notch as the music being played. “Sitting” and “Oblivion” were two highlights from M83’s set. The latter was the eponymous track of the film soundtrack of the 2013 movie with Tom Cruise. It seemed like a lot of their songs could fit right into any movie soundtrack. They glide along and pitch up and down, conveying different emotions and feelings throughout the song. It was great to kind of let the music and lights wash over you as you dance a little bit in the middle of a throng of people. “Midnight City” was as cathartic as teenage me would have imagined. Everyone was singing along and dancing and having a grand ol’ time with M83’s most well-known song. It was a great way to close the set before the encore.
Shura and M83 put on a solid show at the Fillmore Oct. 13. The European bands brought the electro-synth goods across the pond and supplied some great performances. Give Shura a listen if you get the chance. Maybe throw on “Midnight City” or “Kim and Jessie” by M83 and drift back to those golden days of the early 2010s.