Shiiine On has come to Birmingham. Normally a three-day extraganza of indie music that takes place annually at Butlins in Minehead, Shiiine On is a gilt edged 90s nostalgia success story of alternative, indie and dance music. The question has always been whether it would be sustainable, given that there is not an endless conveyor belt of big names to parade, but they have managed to keep it going into 2018 with their annual event in November and also with this one-dayer at the O2 Academy.
For the seasoned Shiiine On attendee, a one day festival should whet the appetite for that return to Butlins (and this will be our fourth visit to Minehead) for the full experience. So how did it match up?.
At one level I don’t think it really matched up at all. In the end this was a series of gigs in the three Academy venues, with no real identity or feel. In fact the venue itself led to some low points over the day. In summary there was too much going on, lots of things felt rushed there seemed to be too many people, and, to be frank, you get a better class of drunk at Minehead. More of this later, but let’s look at the positive aspects of the day.
The line-up was excellent with a cross section of Shiiine On stalwarts and a couple of new faces like Jonn and Rat from Ned’s Atomic Dustbin who showed that good tunes are good tunes, whether played at a million decibels with a full band or just in a guitar and vocals setting. Neds should play Shiiine as a full band. Come on guys get with it. Other Shiiine On newcomer Julian Cope did his slightly weird man and guitar routine mixing new stuff with the odd Teardrop Explodes tune.
Moving between the venues was a touch tricky and became so the longer the day went on as the mixture of spilt drinks and questionable substances turned some floors into ice rinks. As a result a lot of people seemed to stay in one venue, leaving only to catch the bigger names in the Academy 1.
To my mind those who kept to the Academy 2 probably had the best of the day. From a Fruitbat-inspired Abdoujaporov through Dreadzone and The Wedding Present they were treated to some excellent sets including those from the Neds and Julian.
Probably the best on the day there was Fruitbat’s mucker Jim Bob Morrison who insisted in playing only Carter USM songs to wind the bloke up. (He claimed he had him taped to a chair in the green room). Like with Neds the acoustic mode highlighted how good their songs still are, in fact some are better without the crash bang wallop of 30 Something. Jim Bob is funny and his lyrics are typically clever. To be honest I’d have liked a couple of his newer tunes but the Carter sing-a-long suited everyone.
Brumlive favourites The Wedding Present were marvellous as usual with their mixture from their back catalog concentrating on the Tommy compilation. They were bedevilled with a variety of on-stage sound problems that were symptomatic of the set up all day, across the venues. Again everything seemed rushed with not enough time between them and preceding Dreadzone. As a result they could have sounded better across the venue, but these guys are the ultimate professionals and the set was top notch.
It was good to see Dreadzone after a long time for me. Their mixture of Dub, Reggae and Electronica had the crowd up and at it even though MC Spee was seated for the whole gig, threatening to take someone’s eye out with his stick throughout the set.
Academy 1 acted as the “main stage” opening with Glasvegas, who’s position in my list of bands I don’t get wasn’t improved by a weird sound quality. They have popular tunes and lots of admirers, but it’s beyond me.
Embrace followed up their appearance at Minehead last year with a storming set here. Anthemic is an over used adjective for them but All You Good Good People had the crowd singing from early on.
Happy Mondays provided us with the usual best-of set and at last Shaun Ryder seems to have stopped agitating his brother on stage, or maybe he just forgot. Rowetta was resplendent in an body skimming Shiiine On shirt and Bez was just Bez.
Shed Seven were late. Nothing bursts the balloon of a grand entrance like technical problems and it was an awkward few minutes before they could get the highly lubricated crowd going. All the tunes were there and Rick Witter just got on with it.
All in all it was a good day, some great bands and a good crowd, but…
The venue was changed for this event from the Genting to the Academy. It was obvious that the venue found it hard to cope being at capacity almost all day, getting people in and out, having bottlenecks at changeovers, and patently not enough bar staff.
Shiiine On at Minehead runs like clockwork. Shiiine On in Birmingham needs to learn some lessons from that if this is going to be a regular event.
Review: Ian Gelling and Stephanie Colledge
Photographs: Stephanie Colledge
Shiiine On at Minehead runs from 16th to 18th November. Tickets are available HERE
Here is the full line up including the many of the bands mentioned in this review: