Shed Seven + Special Guest John Power | Review
Limelight, Belfast • Saturday 03 February ’18
Neil Trelford / Photography: Tremaine Gregg
Whilst some of the 90s Britpop hierarchy may be hibernating or venturing in other guises, Belfast’s Limelight hosts two stalwarts of the scene for a night of coveted indie rock ‘n’ roll.
Cast front man and former bassist of The La’s, John Power brought his Mersey-beat influenced pop prowess as a warm up for tonight’s main act. Stripped back to himself and accompanying guitar player Liam ‘Skin’ Tyson, the pair rallied through a host of Cast songs.
Cast had supported Shed Seven on a full UK tour back in December 2017, having released a new album Kicking Up The Dust earlier in the year.
But tonight’s set was very much a whirlwind of their back catalogue of hits and the unexpected crowd were delighted.
From opening with ‘Four Walls’ from the 1995 album ‘All Change’ to ‘Do That’ from their latest album was the pathway to some sing-a-long crowd favourites such as ‘Sandstorm’, ‘Walkaway’ and ‘Finetime’.
Cast’s highest single, the number four hit ‘Flying’ began the crescendo of a rollercoaster ride of guitar mastering. ‘Guiding Star’ and ‘Free Me’ rolled into the finale of their most recognisable top ten hit ‘Alright’. A Power-ful set that left the horde full of 90s adrenalin and buzzing for the headliners, Shed Seven.
The magnificent Shed Seven returned to Belfast for the first time since the 2000s and the York mavericks triumphantly resurrect their edgy sound to a forever young indie crowd.
The band are cheered on stage with an almost homecoming salutation and the humble but swaggering Rick Witter immediately introduces the fold to a taste of Instant Pleasures, their 2017 album. ‘Room In My House’ is a blistering start to what could be considered a greatest hits set. It’s the first of four songs from their latest release and sets the pace for immediate throwback to the hazy days of Britpop.
‘Speakeasy’ from their 1994 debut album, Change Giver, is an early fan favourite and it harmonises tonight’s line up of all the original members; Rick Witter (Vocal), Paul Banks (Lead Guitar), Tom Gladwin (Bass), Joe Johnson (Guitar / Keys) and Alan Leach (Drums).
‘Where Have You Been Tonight’ and ‘High Hopes’ carry the crowd on a wave of euphoric sentiment as the Sheds crash in with another new one ‘People Will Talk’. It’s the perfect interlude for the Jagger-esque Witter to address the elephant in the room, his busted left eye. Any conjured up ideas of a rock ’n’ roll brawl were jovially quashed as Rick admitted being old at forty-five and he simply fell over.
Their second single ‘Dolphin’ adds another welcome splash of the early days before heartstrings are tugged on by the piercing vocals on ‘Cry For Help’. This is the hero track on their somewhat overlooked 2001 album Truth Be Told.
The first big indie anthem of the night is introduced by its immediately recognisable opening guitar twang ‘On Standby’ and the crowd sing back every word emphatically. Like the title of their 1996 album, this is A Maximum High.
Two tracks from ‘Let It Ride’ album follow. A slowed down ‘Devil In Your Shoes’ struts the ambience on to the late 90s and the punchy ‘She Left Me On Friday’ makes Belfast’s weekend.
‘Better Days’ is beautifully infused as if it has been part of the repertoire for decades and paves the way for the final three songs of the main set.
‘Disco Down’ is as infectious as the band’s own Yorkshire charm and leads to the close out. The slender Witter stands up for his self-belief, delivering a fist pumping rendition of ‘Bully Boy’ and a thoroughbred gallop of their only top ten single ‘Going For Gold’.
‘It’s Not Easy’ opens the encore on a scale that would rival any stadium rock giant. It’s a powerful track and one that makes Instant Pleasures a must have album.
And as their 1996 top twenty hit ‘Getting Better’ suggests, Shed Seven end a tremendous show with arguably their best ever song ‘Chasing Rainbows’.
Rick Witter recently described their music as ‘Indiepopalicious’ and tonight was definitely an Indiepopalicious night, in magnificent Shed Seven style.
Neil Trelford (Author of The Youth Club) Further reading…
Issue 12 – Winter Edition out now.