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Cast had just played an amazing supporting set and the crowd were buzzing. The place was filling up with people who had loved Shed Seven the first time round, people who had learned to love through the osmosis effect of their parent’s CD collections and the stalwarts who had travelled with them through the highs and lows of their music careers thus far. A whole range of ages filled the space those sporting bobble hats, those in fetching fake fur, those in 1960s garb, modettes, mods, those coming straight from the office suited and booted and then the rest who had turned up in what they could find clean in between shifts/wash cycles or family ironing basket detritus. We were all out to celebrate that for some of us it had been twenty years since we first heard Shed Seven. And we were so ready.

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White fairy lights lit up the stage and cheers rippled through the crowd. Rick Witter started with ‘Room in my House’, the audience following the war cry ‘Woo-oo-oo-oo’ with everyone singing from the off.

I can give you affection where-ever you go’ Rick snarled with his punkier, grittier sound of late.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I am not guilty, You hear my plea.’ His vocals were still as strong but now more velvety somehow. ‘You are the type that would slow down for a car crash’ – he called. These class lyrics resonated and rumbled through psychedelic chord clashes with the audience harmonising throughout. It was a beautiful thing.

In ‘Speak Easy’, the wow-wow-wow of the Tom Gladwin’s and Joe Johnson’s guitars played out over a smoky lilac stage. ‘Don’t break the habit of a lifetime’ Rick sang, this heartfelt vocal smooth with a slight Morrissey-esque tone while the two guitars clashed together in a duel of electric against him. Rick pulled the crowd together. ‘Thank you very much. Hello everybody – are you alright? Ace to back in Sheffield. Let’s make Tuesday night the new Saturday night!’ He continued: ‘Our new record, ‘Instant Pleasures’, is number eight in the national album chart. Number one in the indie chart. It’s only taken sixteen years! We’re lazy fuckers! So we’re planning our next album for 2040.’ The crowd laughed. We felt like we were on a huge night out with all our mates – in between songs, people chatted and reminisced about their previous Cast and Shed Seven experiences – London, T in the Park, Manchester, Leeds – when we were all just leaving school or college and had no clue what we were going to do with the rest of our lives.

In 1996 – how many of you were around for that? I was around in 1996 but I don’t remember a fucking thing of it – we released this. Here’s ‘Where Have You Been Tonight?’ Such a beautiful song and one of my first favourite Shed Seven Songs ever. One of the crowd’s favourites, evidently, as everyone sang along wholeheartedly. So many of us were transported back to a bygone gig where we wouldn’t have been waving iphones in the air, or posting selfies of ourselves at a gig on Facebook. We just loved the music – we loved being at those events. Yes – some of us went in to our own nostalgic bubbles for a few minutes there.

The lilting rhythm and the lively ballad of ‘High Hopes‘ rang out for us next, lifting us from our nostalgic stupor:

Let them lift away ‘cos I’ve got high hopes

I believe

In the roots that keep me complete

And I’ve got high hopes

All I need is your hands to steady my feet, steady my feet.

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And now, let’s welcome our brass section on to the stage.’ Rick called. ‘This is the first time we’re playing this live off the new album – ‘People Will Talk’. Wish us luck!’ Their stomping indie-rock still held it’s own with this track but by mixing it up with the addition of the brass section and funky riffs from guitarists Tom Gladwin and Joe Johnson, it provided the hooks required to pull the piece together.

‘It doesn’t matter much to meYou mean everything to me.’

That’s a relief’, Rick shouted over huge cheers at the end of the song. His attitude and in your face bravado is still there but as always, rather tongue in cheek until more is required. After Dolphin, a high energy ‘Shame On You’ got everyone jumping and Rick bouncing around the stage with red maracas. Their the next song, ‘Cry for Help’ contrasted and we were delivered a rocky indie riff with a little Smiths vibe going on here.

‘When I’m thinking about you
And I’m crying from the pain
When you shook me to the bone
When all you were being was yourself.’

As Shed Seven launched in to ‘She Left Me on Friday’, the crowd went wild. Rick’s performance was punky and raw:

She left me on Friday and ruined my weekend,
She thinks we’re still best friends she thinks we’re still alright

With an exceptional episode of guitar jamming – their very own guitar-off – half way through, both guitarists held their own and we were all winners there, the astounding talent of Tom and Joe showcased to full effect.
And now, track number six from our new album: ‘Better Days’. Now here is my new absolute favourite from ‘Instant Pleasures’ a ballad which we all stood in silence to hear. We were given smoky vocals over an elegant melody with a contrasting heavy percussion from Alan Leach.

‘Even though you’re not around,

I’m holding out for better days,

It’s unspoken,

I’m brokenAnd that’s where I stay’

It’s Tom Gladwin’s and Joe Johnson’s driving, gritty guitar style which provide plenty of hooks to make this song truly special. A pale blue light cast across the stage and Rick’s voice cracked at one point – such an emotional, beautiful song. 
Then in to ‘Disco Down’ for a complete contrast: solid, funky, heavier sound this time round, with the audience singing along with great passion! I’d forgotten how many hits they’d had and was amazed how I remembered the lyrics after all this time – but great lyrics stand the test of time they say and in this case it’s true. Rick is still the coolest dancer – a very charismatic front man but with his vocals and an amazing band of musicians, they really are bringing Britpop back with its own grittier, (dare I say it?) grown-up sound.
‘Going for Gold’ was sung to huge cheers and applause – their hugely popular seventh hit single from back in 1996 was sung word for word:

‘I never said never, You took the words right out of my mouthAre you here for pleasure, Or are you going for gold?’

I loved the use of the brass section here – a huge sound that fit majestically with this anthem. With the evening drawing to a close, we all hoped for our own personal favourites. ‘Getting Better’ gave us raw energy with the layering of the brass section, drums and guitar jamming getting faster and faster with Rick dancing and twirling while everyone sang along. Yes – we had all been suitably whipped up in to a frenzy. 

The final song of the evening as we’d all hoped was their classic, ‘Chasing Rainbows’ and their version tonight was richer, stronger, with more depth from the brass section and the heavier guitars. The crowd sang every word and hung on to every final moment. Rick ended with this: ‘You have to spend your money on a lot of stuff these days so thank you for coming. Go home and be safe.’ And off we went, home alone or home to our loved ones, many of us with still no clue what we were going to do with the rest of our lives…… but at least we knew we would always have the best soundtrack.

New album “Instant Pleasures” out now: https://ShedSeven.lnk.to/IPID

KATE O’BRIEN

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