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Review: Bruno Major @ SWX

Promoting his newest album "Columbo", released July 2023, Bruno Major recently took to Bristol’s SWX stage. He delivered a night of beautiful, soulful songwriting and a much-needed night of relaxation during this busy exam season.

By Susie Long, Music Subeditor

Since the release of his debut album "A Song for Every Moon" in 2017, Bruno Major has been making a name for himself as an immensely talented and soulful songwriter, creating tracks that brilliantly blend his acoustic pop sound with elements of jazz, soul, R&B, and even classical music. When I saw that he, supported by Pittsburgh-based artist Kevin Garrett, was coming to Bristol as part of his 'Tour of Planet Earth' this month, I jumped at the chance to go.

I have always been fond of Bruno Major’s music, but hearing it in person was on a whole other level. Live, his crooner-style persona really shines through, with elegant, timeless vocals and skillful instrumentation to match. Major spoke of studying jazz at Leeds Conservatoire, and you could definitely hear these influences in his live performances, with flourishes, runs, and instrumental solos that I hadn’t heard on his studio recordings. 

Not only is Major a great songwriter, but it became obvious that he was clearly a talented storyteller too. Between songs, he would fill the space with stories that had inspired his writing. Whether this was “Home”, recalling the love for walks with his dog, or the new album’s title track “Columbo”, about the experience of crashing his newly purchased Mercedes SL post-lockdown, Major has a wonderful knack for romanticising the mundane and creating something amazing from it. Thanks to this knack, I think everyone can find something to relate to in a Bruno Major song, which made the crowd a very special place to be.

It’s not news to anyone that Bristol crowds always deliver, but this was in a different way to lots of the more energetic gigs I’ve been to. During atmospheric, quiet moments - like Major’s spotlit performance of “Places We Won’t Walk” - you could’ve heard a pin drop amongst the crowd, everyone was simply transfixed by him. But then, with hits like “Nothing” and “The Most Beautiful Thing”, everyone was singing their hearts out the whole way through (I even heard a few harmonies thrown in from a couple of girls near me!). It’s not surprising to me that Major referred to it as “the best gig [he] had played in the UK”; it was magical.

All in all, Bruno Major delivered a fantastic show. It was a calming, acoustic set and a night at a jazz bar all in one neat package; the man can do it all (including one of the best covers of The Temptations “Shakey Ground” that I’ve ever heard). If you’re a fan of Lizzy McAlpine, Jack Johnson, Novo Amor, or any jazzy acoustic pop, Bruno Major is definitely another one to add into your rotation, and check out live if you can.

Featured Image: Susie Long

What relaxing music do you listen to during exam season?