Bree Runway review – the high-octane magic of a superstar in the making | Music


You are now listening to the sounds of Bree Runway,” an announcement booms as Brenda Wireko Mensah arrives on stage with her band and dancers to launch into an explosive rendition of Apeshit. Thundering drums clatter against bouncing synths as the Brit-nominated artist spits fluid, fierce lines. A Prince-esque guitar solo pushes the track, taken from her 2020 mixtape 2000AND4EVA, over the finish line and sets the tone for a set that ricochets riotously between genres.

Growing up in a Hackney household soundtracked by her father’s Ghanian highlife music and her mum’s heavy rotation of MTV icons such as Kelis and Lil’ Kim has clearly rubbed off on Runway. Her approach is as eclectic as it is kinetic: new single Pressure is caramel-smooth pop; older number Big Racks merges extremely wonky synth bass with taut drums that nod to old-school funk and hyperpop, while the beat-heavy hip-hop of ATM features the kind of sharp hooks and joyous bounce that recall the heyday of Missy Elliott (who guests on the recorded version). There is a constant swing between fractured beats and euphoric surges as Runway unleashes potent rap, glistening pop melody and moments of thoughtful restraint.

While the low-stage, low-ceiling basement venue isn’t the best for a performance this aesthetically charged and choreography-heavy – often only the top of the dancers’ swinging hair is visible – but the crowd soaks up every drop regardless. “I did not expect the vibe,” Runway announces as yet another wave of ecstatic screams rips through the venue.

The room explodes once more to the polished yet punchy Hot Hot, while the final number – a new song, Somebody Like You – is a harmony-stacked slow groove that showcases her vocal range as it reaches soaring new levels. Replete with 80s stadium rock drums and ostentatious guitar solo outro, it is an almost ballad-like closer that further cements Bree Runway’s unique position as a rising pop star who eschews convention to embrace complexity and contradiction.

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