Bree Runway lifts her hand to her mouth in delighted awe. Her first headline show in the capital – a sold out event at Hoxton’s Colours – has only just kicked off, but already the eager crowd in front of her is drowning out her vocals with their enthusiastic singing. The London singer and rapper might be caught off guard, but to everyone watching this reaction is inevitable.
Over the last 18 months, Runway (real name Brenda Wireko Mensah) has marked herself out as one of the UK’s most promising and exciting new superstars. The likes of ‘Apeshit and ‘ATM’ presented an artist with lyrical dexterity, a knack for glorious pop hooks and more than a dose of infectious playfulness. Onstage tonight (September 27), she steps out from behind the screen and embodies those qualities with a larger-than-life brilliance. No wonder everyone in music – from Doja Cat to Lady Gaga – is falling hard for her right now.
Colours might be a small, 300-capacity sweatbox, but Runway treats it as if its a venue that’s much bigger. As well as a guitarist and drummer to bring her songs to life, she’s flanked by two dancers with whom she delivers choreographed routines between verses. Later, she enlists them to help out with a dance-off between two audience members while the star herself sings a new song called ‘Booty’.
“I cried two little tears earlier cos I saw a video of the queue,” she tells the crowd after the grinding industrial pop of ‘Little Nokia’ and a bouncing version of ‘Apeshit’. If Runway is emotional, though, she doesn’t let that swerve her away from her regular service of empowering fun. “Be the rich one, get the bag, work hard, pull up and get your own table,” she instructs to a massive roar from her fans after delivering a vibrantly confident ‘Rolls Royce’. It’s advice that’s clearly working for her – this performance is proof that she’s quickly working her way up to the best seat in the house.
Throughout the entirety of Runway’s short but dynamic set, you’re struck by the feeling that you’re witnessing something special. There won’t be many more occasions where she plays a venue as small as this; a room that can barely fit all of her energy and talent inside its four walls. “Bree Runway’s so what?” she asks the crowd at the end of ‘Hot Hot’, her fans yelling back the song’s title in a deafening wall of noise. It’s something of an understatement – Bree Runway is ablaze and her flames are only going to burn brighter.