Shura at The Academy, Dublin, on Saturday 16th of October 2019

Self-proclaimed lesbian pope, Shura, made her Irish headline debut in The Academy to great effect this weekend. Shura, real name Alexandra Denton, is a half-Russian/half-English artist (a combination that’s likely to generate scorn from gammon, home and abroad) who has examined the human condition from the gay perspective across two of the decade’s finest alternative pop albums.

If Shura feels any anxiety at playing the lead role it certainly doesn’t show as she delivers a cleverly assembled collection of ‘80s synth pop inspired tracks and earnest ballads for the Tinder generation.

Jumping between bass and guitar, triggering samples throughout the show, and accompanied by live drums and an additional synth/guitarist, Shura threads the needle between exact reproduction and live experimentation, giving the assembled crowd exactly what they came for while throwing in a few curve-balls to keep things interesting for herself.

Nothing’s Real and Religion (U Can Lay Your Hands On Me) lays down an early marker, while a stripped-down Forevher and Flyin’ showcases Shura’s vocal prowess.

When Shura ges into the crowd to touch her fans during Touch the inevitable singalong occurs, but this is no surprise as at times it is hard to hear the artist over the crowd. Towards the end of a ferocious rendition of White Light Shura batters her synth like a boxer pummelling a punchbag, delivering considerably more bite live than on the album version.

Tommy, the heart-warming tale of a widow Shura met on tour in America, similarly takes on new life with the emotional core of the track emanating more readily in a live setting. Skyline then sees Shura taking the opportunity to wig out on the track’s riff before the night ends in a hale of white noise.

The gin-soaked lesbian pope more than delivered with her debut headline sermon in Dublin. Bigger venues no doubt await this particular cult.