Shed Seven + The Twang @ O2 Academy 22nd November 2019

Shed Seven + The Twang @ O2 Academy 22nd November 2019Shed Seven + The Twang @ O2 Academy 22nd November 2019Shed Seven + The Twang @ O2 Academy 22nd November 2019Shed Seven + The Twang @ O2 Academy 22nd November 2019Shed Seven + The Twang @ O2 Academy 22nd November 2019Shed Seven + The Twang @ O2 Academy 22nd November 2019Shed Seven + The Twang @ O2 Academy 22nd November 2019Shed Seven + The Twang @ O2 Academy 22nd November 2019Shed Seven + The Twang @ O2 Academy 22nd November 2019Shed Seven + The Twang @ O2 Academy 22nd November 2019Shed Seven + The Twang @ O2 Academy 22nd November 2019Shed Seven + The Twang @ O2 Academy 22nd November 2019Shed Seven + The Twang @ O2 Academy 22nd November 2019Shed Seven + The Twang @ O2 Academy 22nd November 2019Shed Seven + The Twang @ O2 Academy 22nd November 2019Shed Seven + The Twang @ O2 Academy 22nd November 2019Shed Seven + The Twang @ O2 Academy 22nd November 2019Shed Seven + The Twang @ O2 Academy 22nd November 2019Shed Seven + The Twang @ O2 Academy 22nd November 2019Shed Seven + The Twang @ O2 Academy 22nd November 2019

Today has been “wear your old band T-shirt to work day” on BBC 6 Music, and you know which t-shirt I have been wearing all day? Yes, that’s right, my old Cooper Temple Clause t-shirt, but of course, I was wearing both of tonight’s band’s t-shirts in spirit.

I worked out that it has been 10 years since I’ve actually reviewed both of these bands – 10 years is a long time. I have actually seen them since then, but not had the opportunity to write a review. Shed Seven’s roughly bi-annual “Shedcember tour” has always been popular with the Birmingham crowd, and tonight was no exception, another sell-out gig, and you could definitely tell. This was actually one of the busiest I have ever seen at the venue, and I’ve been to a lot of gigs here that were sold out – this was pushing the capacity limits for sure. If indie is dead, then tonight was claiming the complete opposite.

There is no doubt that the two bands on this tour very much have a cult following, and actually, their success has grown a lot more over the recent decade. Of course, Shed Seven built their fan base in the mid-90s at the peak of the Britpop movement, with The Twang gripping that mid-00’s fan that was craving that reminiscent sound of the ’90s. It was like this was a match made in heaven in terms of line-up.

When The Twang donned the stage, they received a very warm welcome from the roughly half-full venue starting with a track from their debut album “Wide Awake”, allowing the fans to begin the almost football like chant that flows throughout. The Birmingham bands eight-track set was a testament to 4 of their 5 albums with two tracks from their new record “If Confronted Just Go Mad”. This was the first time that I had heard any of their new material live, and it really worked well, fitting in with the fan favourites that were played. The backing vocalist who sang on recent single “Everytime” was extremely impressive, reminding me of Rowetta from classic Manchester band Happy Mondays.

Lead singer Phil Etheridge performed really well, and his unique presence captivated the Birmingham crowd, he has always been an impressive frontman, but tonight his vocal was on top form. The band appeared to be extremely grateful for the opportunity to be touring with Shed Seven – in fact, Phil referred to it as “an honour”. They captivated the crowd and warmed the venue up nicely. The Twang return to Birmingham at the end of December (22nd and 23rd) and in my opinion, a trip to one of those nights will be one of the best early Christmas presents you could receive.

With the roughly 45 minute warm-up set complete there was a bit of time to catch up with old faces from the indie scene in both Wolverhampton and Birmingham and listen to conversations reminiscing of times gone by and when the last time people saw the Sheds. This was actually quite emotional for me as the last time that I saw them was with my late father-in-law back in 2011. 

Although Shed Seven were at their peak in the mid 90’s they haven’t rested over recent years. Their 18 track set, while predominantly focusing on their early material still (quite rightly) paid a nod to their impressive 2017 release “Instant Pleasures”. You should never underestimate a Birmingham crowd, and without a doubt, you shouldn’t do that on a Friday night. This was one of only a handful of gigs that I have been to where I have ended up in a mosh-pit at the back of the venue – it was immense – a little bit too overwhelming in parts, taking me back to a youth that was once forgotten. The crowd were in fine voice, and every single person knew every single word to every single song. I think the greatest testament to a band that just delivers a great show time after time is a subtle set design and that is precisely what there was, with a huge gold curtain draped across the back of the stage with fairy lights around the amp and drum kit.

Rick Witter was indeed on form with his perfect rock and roll swagger on stage, untamed wit and banter with the crowd. When you thank the 300 people that purchased your debut single and got it to number 77 in the charts (‘Mark’) or ask the audience if they remember 1998 early on in your set, then you know that he’s up for a laugh tonight. The frontman definitely comes across as one of the funniest and generous men in rock and roll. I loved when he introduced the crowd to Alfie, a 14-year-old at his first gig, referring to him as “the future of rock and roll”. 

Later in the set, he drew our attention to another young lady up on the balcony also at her first gig; called it “a match made in heaven” as well as making a gesture of giving them one of his maracas each before the end of the show probably making their entire year – Legend! I really hope that he was genuinely asking the crowd if he should appear on the BBC’s Celebrity Pointless as I think he could steal the show.

Every time I’ve seen Shed Seven, they’ve either delivered a set that starts with a bang or one that builds to a crescendo of madness. It was more like the latter, and when I made a note that it felt quite chilled, it was interesting that they then played Dolphin, which took the venue to the next level. Some of the biggest crowd-pleasers of the night came from their 1996 (“Do you remember that year Alfie?”) album ‘A Maximum High’, ‘On Standby’ was massive and there was a little bit of a unique U2 twist to ‘Going for Gold’ including a vocal snippet from ‘Angel of Harlem’ at the end.

The 3 track encore delivered the biggest punch of the night with ‘Disco Down’ sending the already Friday night beer-fuelled crowd to another level of frenzy. The sense of humility and truth from Rick’s words when he said that they “didn’t want this gig to end” was seconded from the loyal fan base. They ended with ‘Chasing Rainbows’ which echoed through the venue and spilled out onto the streets after the gig had finished.

Although tonight fed a lot on nostalgia, both of the bands sounded as fresh as ever, captivating their fans and introducing a new generation to a now underground sound that once rocked the mainstream. 

The Twang Setlist

Wide Awake

Barney Rubble

Everytime

Either Way

We’re a Crowd

Lovin State

Two Lovers

Took the fun

Shed Seven Setlist

Room in My House

Mark

Where Have You Been Tonight?

Devil in Your Shoes

Enemies & Friends

Ocean Pie

Dolphin

Better Days

On Standby

Getting Better

It’s Not Easy

High Hopes

Bully Boy

Going for Gold (with “U2 – Angel of Harlem” snippet)

Parallel Lines

Encore:

Invincible

Disco Down

Chasing Rainbows

 

Reviewer: Imran Khan

Photographer: Stephanie Colledge 

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