After over thirty minutes wandering round Leeds in a race to find the venue before Shame were due to come on stage, getting increasingly more anxious, we had found the venue. Walking through what was essentially just a student hall felt no different to coming in for a 9am lecture, but with the added buzz of finally seeing one of the best bands to have come out of London over the last 5 years, no small achievement in the slightest. As we approached the security, we could hear crowds cheering, it was time to get in as quickly as possible bef- “Shame? No, I’ve not heard of them? This is Leeds Stylus; Shame aren’t here tonight.” Wh- i- It was becoming clear that we were at the wrong venue. In fact, as it transpires, we were about 15 minutes away from the gig venue, with the time just ticking over 9 o’clock the anxious wandering of thirty minutes ago quickly descended into frantic exploration of the immediate area, with a vague description of the security at stylus the only thing to go by as to where the venue is. For all we knew Shame were coming onstage at 9, we might arrive having missed the first quarter of the set, but fuck it.
At around 9:20, after a quick metal detection look over by security at the door of the ACTUAL venue, we were in. A quick stop off at the bar was all that was needed when we realised Shame still hadn’t come out on stage. As cheers started to seep through to the bar the rush to get down onto the floor was far more excited than the anxious rush that was now an hour ago. Here they were, Shame. Alphabet was the song that kicked off the set, the lead single from their second album has been their set open since around its release and has served its purpose perfectly in that time. Just the right mix of energy, aggression and popularity to get the crowd buzzed but still hungry for more, far more.
Charlie Steen has for some time now stuck out to me as one of the bets frontmen to have emerged over the last 5 years, alongside perhaps Geordie Greep (though he holds a place near the top for different, weirder reasons), and this gig did nothing to change this opinion. Throughout the set he showed just how well equipped he is in raising and lowering the crowd’s energy levels. Naturally alongside this he very quickly went from buttoned up shirt to unbuttoned shirt to no shirt whatsoever, again not a surprise to anyone in the room.
Further highlights that stuck out throughout the set for me were The Lick and Concrete, two of the bands more classic songs that still hold up today. Near perfect for live performances for two varying reasons. Concrete feels like it goes at 100 miles an hour from the start, despite its more reserved verses the crowd doesn’t let up for a second and when the final explosion happens at the end you can be sure to hear every person in the room shouting along “And I hope that you’re hearing me!” The Lick, in contrast, may not be the fastest song but its lyrics are undeniably infectious to shout along to. Hundreds of people in the room, myself included, were left out in the cold to sing the word gynaecologist as Steen drew the word out, adding to the comedy of the track. With one of the stickiest bass lines to have been written in the last 5 years it really is hard to fall in love with the track in this setting. New track This Side of the Sun was also good fun. A song that, on first listen seemed like a run of the mill Shame track was transformed into a different beast when presented in a live setting, making me go back and listen to the song on repeat when I returned home that night.
March Day, a song off their second album and one that I admittedly had only heard once or twice before was rearranged to be one of the most memorable point of the gig, even just for the biggest mosh pit of the night, orchestrated personally by Steen himself. Similarly Snow Day was also a true stand out of the set. Its many different sections allow for the crowd to go on a journey with the band that has made it comfortably my second favourite song in their discography, held off the top spot by just one song, Angie. Before going to the gig, I had already accepted that I wouldn’t be seeing this song live. With only a handful of videos of it online from years ago alongside the fact that they didn’t play it when I saw them at Wide Awake festival this summer, I had just assumed that the track was long gone from their set. In fact, I was so convinced of this that when they began to play the opening riff it took me about 15 second to really start believing what was actually happening. Perhaps not everyone’s favourite song of the night but comfortably my personal highlight the band didn’t miss a beat and the track transcended into something that I didn’t think I would ever be able to witness.
No doubt many peoples highlight of the gig would’ve been the penultimate song on the set list, One Rizla. Introduced as “a song we’ve never played before” the crowd descended into madness as the song started off with a bang. Again, the band didn’t put a foot wrong, much like the rest of the show and it ended the set on an immense high alongside the set closer, Station Wagon.
Ultimately, I left the gig absolutely satisfied. Unlike many bands around today Shame construct their setlists faultlessly, leaving none of their best songs out whether they be their newest or oldest tracks. There is no doubt in my mind that everyone else in the room with me left feeling the same way and if they did come back feeling cheated, I would guess that they will never truly be satisfied. Even if you are a slight fan of Shame they are the kind of band that WILL convert you once you step into their church.