Culture, Music, News

Shame @ New Century Hall Manchester review – South Londoners bring the meaning back to ‘post-punk’ music

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Featured image: Holly Whitaker

Since their beginnings in the belly of the London post-punk scene (have you ever heard of The Windmill?), Shame have come a long way. All the vigour of 2018’s Songs of Praise remains within their music.

They’re still overtly political like most of their peers on the scene but they’ve now stepped away from the sarcasm and humour that laces through their debut and become slightly more sentimental. Their latest effort Food For Worms is an ode to friendship and on Saturday night the record made its glistening Manchester debut to a packed-out New Century Hall. 

Taking to the stage as the sound of the Match of the Day theme blares over venue speakers, as a mark of solidarity with football pundit Gary Lineker following his impartiality row with the BBC, the five-piece launch into the thundering and sometimes erratic ‘Fingers of Steel’. 

Frontman Charlie Steen is playing God tonight. He commands each and every circle pit with an air of coolness that suggests he’s done this before a thousand times (and he has). 

Three songs in, his white dress shirt lies in a crumpled heap to the side of the stage and he has thrown himself headfirst into an audience he has perhaps put too much faith into. Nevertheless they manage to hold him up. 

The chaos continues for beloved Drunk Tank Pink era tracks ‘Born in Luton’ and ‘6/1’ before we enter Shame at their most relaxed (kind of).

‘Adderall’ is a definite highlight: it’s one of the sadder tracks in the group’s catalogue. An observational track about the effect of prescription drugs and the impact that addiction can have on that person and those around them. A total gut-wrencher but an important one at that. Steen quips that it’s ‘time to go acoustic’ for another new one: ‘Orchid’, and it’s here that his vocals really shine.

We’re on the home stretch now, and the energy picks right back up for ‘One Rizla’ especially. The first Shame track I ever heard way back when I was first getting into ‘alternative’ music at 15. It felt kind of like a full circle moment seeing them under the glaring multicoloured lights of a sold-out New Century. ‘Angie’ and ‘Gold Hole’ concluded an utterly exhausting yet totally exhilarating 90-minutes of stage time. 

Shame’s live catalogue proves that post-punk gigs aren’t all rough and tumble while showcasing that they REALLY know how to have fun. It was one of those nights, so good it leaves you with an empty feeling as soon as the music ceases.

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Minty Slater Mearns

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