chaos, control and a huge dose of optimism
“It’s a fun thing, rock’n’roll,” Shame frontman Charlie Steen said during the Spinal Tap-influenced opening of the band’s lockdown-induced live concert (filmed at Brixton Electric) earlier. this year. “He never dies, but he hasn’t been there for three years. And now we’re back. Well, not quite.
Five months after the release of ‘Drunk Tank Pink’ and Shame still haven’t been able to perform the kind of raucous, unifying shows that their second album was clearly created to inspire. Tonight in Brighton, they are getting closer. The first of two socially distanced shows in Chalk, this concert is part of a 14 date tour of independent venues in towns the band has never performed before (plus Brighton, “because we love it here. “). This is one of the most extensive tours to take place since the pandemic shut down live music.
Releasing on the theme song “I’m A Celeb”, the band quickly embarked on the surly post-punk assault of “Snow Day”. Oscillating between chaos and control, it’s the perfect introduction to an hour-long show that refuses to stand still. The synthesizer “Born In Luton” is a glitch rage, “6/1” is an explosion of aggressiveness and the new wave breath of “Tasteless” sees the group playing with an urgency to party. Finally unleashed, the swagger “Alphabet” sounds absolutely gigantic live. Even the indebted Britpop “Angie” – arguably the most direct song the band has ever written – oscillates between tenderness and restlessness. The seated crowd couldn’t help but give him a standing ovation after bellowing every word.
“It feels good to be back,” Steen said before the thunderous ‘March Day’. “It’s been too long but there is a little optimism and a little hope.”
Much of the responsibility for making the show as entertaining as possible falls on him. An animated character who speaks with his hands, Tonight Steen owns the scene as a very young Iggy Pop (and not just because they both like to take their shirts off). Juggling a microphone (more impressive than it looks), reciting the Lord’s Prayer as fast as possible, or leading chants with a tense microphone stand, he uses every party trick in his book to bridge the gap between the artist and the audience. However, it is only good because it has to be. The rest of the six-piece group create an ever-changing, textured wall of sound that is simply fascinating like Steen’s antics.
While Shame’s many, many shows around the debut album “Songs of Praise” were as fast and furious as they could get, their livestream hinted at something more grandiose. Tonight, it is impossible to avoid how far the group has become in command.
Maybe it’s the boardroom setup or maybe it’s the more dynamic songs from “Drunk Tank Pink”, but in an era when most bands are trying to recreate a sense of normalcy, Shame pushes himself to create something new. Three years after this first album, they are clearly tired of waiting.
“Born in Luton”