Gig Review: Shame – NUSU, 23 Nov 2018

jack Gill reviews Shame at the Student Union

Jack Gill
27th November 2018
Credit: Jack Gill

It’s been an exciting year for Shame. The South-London punk rockers kicked off the year with their debut LP ‘Songs of Praise’, an album that has gifted the band everything from critical acclaim to a U.S. tour this past summer.

Spawning from the grimy rock backdrop of Brixton’s ‘Queen’s Head’, the very same place where bands such as ‘Fat White Family’ have cut their teeth over the past few years, Shame aren’t shy to their influences nor their background. They often announce their habit of “ripping off” other bands in humorous fashion yet, with this brand of brash pride, the band remain consistently humble to the needs of their fans.

Arriving into the dimly lit basement of the students union, Shame channeled primal overtones in their initial onstage presence. Frontman Charlie Steen’s icy glare froze over those eager onlookers, if only for a second, before Sean Coyle-Smith’s guitar belted out the hypnotic riff of opener ‘Dust on Trial’. Mirroring the song’s opening position on ‘Songs of Praise’, this heavy-hitting tune set the tone for the night’s proceedings, as the already small standing area of the SU became even more intimate than before. In a fitting follow-up to these closed-off spaces, frontman Steen removes his shirt and proclaims the band’s new song ‘Human, for a minute’. This track plays with an equally sadistic, slow-burning attitude reminiscent of early post-punk bands like ‘Wire’ and ‘The Fall’.

[pullquote]it’s easy to forget that Shame are still a relatively ‘new’ band[/pullquote]

Comparisons aside, the set continues with a blistering pace, if not somewhat jarred by the continual pint that soars into the ceiling. Admittedly, it’s hard not to feel a bit aged set against the stirring energy of the crowd yet, surprisingly, there’s also an older demographic residing at the back of the room.

By the time the band kick off their fourth track of the night, ‘Friction’, the audience is attuned to the brisk dancing and swift movements that are taking place on stage. As is appropriate, Shame read their audience like a punk ‘how-to’ pamphlet, responding to their every move with an equally intense tune. Swiftly proceeding into the medial point of the set, the band propel an earlier single, ‘The Lick’, with cocksure vocals and a rebellious declaration that “this is how it starts”. Indeed, the song resonates as a second opener, a re-ignition of the already sweat-stained Steen, who now stands lifted above the audience with an almost statuesque presence.

As those particularly eager audience members spill out into the stage pit, vigorously dragged over by the concerned security staff, it’s easy to forget that Shame are still a relatively ‘new’ band. Their stage presence, though often intense and unrelenting, is very much an extension of their own principals of inclusion and unity. The band had made headlines earlier in the year for their provocative declaration that they were going to spend their money on ‘anti-tory propaganda’, a statement which subsequently feuded them against ‘The Sun’, who labelled them the ‘PM’s DAFT PUNK’.

Sure, Shame can be easily bracketed alongside the raucous behaviour of other bygone British punk bands but, as the band reappeared for the encore track ‘Concrete’, there was a resounding sense of enjoyment from those committed fans. This sense of ‘fun’, though often trivialised in the political climate of today’s music scene, ensured that the otherwise hasty offerings from the band rang with a sense of excitement, rather than appearing too rushed or careless.

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