Shame - Live @ Future Yard
The day has arrived that we have been waiting for over a year now! Live music has finally returned and I couldn't have kicked off our summer gig season in better style than with one of the most highly acclaimed live bands around, Shame. Their second album 'Drunk Tank Pink' (read our review here), was a cohesive masterclass full of an unrelenting raucous energy from start to finish with an astounding level of musical finesse along the way. It instantly became one of my favourite modern records so I knew I had to get to the first show of theirs I could and see whether the perpetual power and intricate instrumentation could be translated into the live setting. So, when the band announced they would be playing an intimate show at one of the brightest independent venues in the North West, Birkenhead's Future Yard, I knew I couldn't miss it.
My questions of whether the distinctive feel of the album would translate in the flesh were answered before I had time to blink. The night opened in the same fashion as the album, with the pace setting call to arms 'Alphabet'. The track encapsulates everything that the new record is about and likewise it perfectly set the tone for what was to come on the night. You'd be forgiven for wondering whether such an energetic live band would be able to perform in their usual lively style with an audience that can't reciprocate due to the socially distanced COVID measures. However, as soon as frontman Charlie Steen attacked the line "Are you ready to feel good?" you could sense the unanimous response from every member of the audience to be "YES!". As the feet started tapping, heads started swaying and the first brave individuals began to add their vocals into the mix, any worries that the energy would be lacking from a socially distanced show evaporated. Credit has to go to the band for this as its not exactly easy to make what felt like a scaled down exam hall feel like the centre of a Punk show moshpit. However, each member of the band turned on the gas and shook the venues walls. From the erratic movements of bassist Josh Finerty, who was bouncing from wall to wall quicker than the sound, to the renowned showmanship of vocalist Charlie Steen your eyes were overloaded just as much as your ears, never knowing quite where to look and at points almost feeling that you couldn't look at Steen's fixated stare. The intensity of their performance was astounding, constantly involving the crowd in any way they could, most notably as Steen pointed and glared at random audience members along to the 'Tasteless' line "I like you better when you're not around". Moments like this absorbed you into the atmosphere and made you completely forget that anything about the gig was unusual, confirming yet again that they were perfect return to gig life.
It would be hard to pick out highlights from the night as the show was more of a non stop barrage than a steady selection of live tracks. Everything from the controlled chaos of 'Dust on Trial' to the cataclysmic build of the night's ender 'Station Wagon' combined into one adrenaline shot that left the crowd full of a positivity and collective excitement that many won't have felt for months. Having said this, the moment that really stood out was their performance of my personal album favourite 'Born in Luton'. It is ironic that the song that resonates most after months locked in doors was one about an empty house, yet it encapsulated everything that was good about the night. The swirling intricate interplay between the drummer Charlie Forbes and the rest of the band combined with the fascinating story like lyrics offer more than you could ever ask for in one track. Yet, the real impact came in the chorus. When the harmonies rose up from the background, the drums created a cinematic atmosphere and the venue lights shone down on Charlie Steen as he growled the vocals with his arms outstretched, there was a brief moment of complete silence from the crowd as we all watched on in awe. It was a transcendent moment where we all felt pure bliss, appreciating how magical it was to be in that moment after all that has happened over the last year or so.
I cannot review the show without giving a special mention to Future Yard for how they handled the night. As I have mentioned, for many, this was their first their first proper night out and thus there was a slight apprehension as to how the the socially distanced show would work out from a safety point of view. However, from the greeting on entry to all bar workers and door staff, every member of Future Yard did everything they could to make every feel safe and welcome. Furthermore, its not easy orchestrating two back to back sets with two different crowds, yet, the whole night ran seamlessly with announcements before and after the show making the whole system easy to follow so that it did not detract from the fun of the event whatsoever. If you've been undecided about making your first venture back into live music then Future Yard is the place to go! More to the point, Shame are the band to see! The perfect electrifying reintroduction to gig life. So, put the venue and the band together and you get one special night that has only got me craving the next installment.