Attending the album launch of rock band Sharaya was like opening a wardrobe door and being transported to a whole other world. A world where rock is supreme, a world where sex and music are synonymous and a world where 'Hipsters' are tight jeans worn by hot chicks.
As I peered around The Corner Hotel, it was packed to the brim with a horde of leather-clad individuals, drinking beer with gusto and brimming with anticipation for the night to come. I could feel that this crowd had a vice-like grip on what music should be, and that grip was distinctively that of another glamrock era. I felt like a little Indie-girl lost.
As I scoured the venue I could see that this was no amateur production. There were professional cameramen propped at every angle, photographers leaning against the stage and a merchandise table gleaming with perfectly ordered swag. From the start it became apparent that Sharaya were a group that treated their music like a business, with respect and attention to detail.
The show begun with a petite bombshell strutting out onto the stage. She was armoured with fishnet stockings, a bustier and a giant 'Sonic the Hedgehog' mohawk. The rest of the band, which includes a lead guitarist, a bassist, a drummer and a keyboardist, set up and the show begun with a loud and energetic rock anthem. Instantly the front woman, Shay Liza, commanded the room with her sexuality, her powerful vocals and her charismatic confidence. As the show went on it was obvious that Sharaya is a band devoted to the delivery of classic rock music, played with intensity and passion.
The album launch of their debut album The Road to... was off to a successful start as the band synchronised perfectly, the lighting created a dazzling atmosphere and the sound blared effortlessly through the swarm of rockers. Songs like 'Ready Or Not' or 'The Truth' perfectly encompassed the essence of the band, which is high-energy, rasping sex appeal and a classic rock sound. Whereas intense ballads like 'You Don't Make Me Smile' showed the band's ability to connect with the crowd and tell interpersonal stories that delve under the surface.
Sharaya, comparable to groups like Evanescence, if only for their knee-high booted female vocalists, obviously draw inspiration from formative bands like Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Motley Crue and Heart. While the energy was there, I felt like they were very obvious in their approach. By focusing intensely on their front woman's sexuality, shredding guitar solos and melodic keyboard, the band had a feeling of 'Instant Rock'. Just sprinkle in some powder, add some telling elements and pour some water and you have a rock band. While I could certainly appreciate their showmanship and their obvious musical ability, I just felt that they were not challenging the rock and roll stereotype at all.
The room seemed invested in the performance, as they nodded enthusiastically and clicked iPhones relentlessly. When the band suddenly departed, they crowd knew what was expected of them and they were quick to heartily encourage an encore performance. In response Shay Liza came out and dedicated a touching acoustic ballad to her younger sister. This song was quite possibly the most genuine part of the show as the bands heroic front woman came close to tears but managed to produce a flawless vocal performance regardless.
The lights glittered their name, the crowd applauded, the smoke machine seduced and guitar ripped through the audience. As Sharaya performed their last song for the night, the audience knew that they had just witnessed a rock and roll performance, obvious or not.