“Come forward children, don’t be shy!” singer Charlie Steen preaches, beckoning down to the sweaty masses below with his hands. “You’re all good people – all of you!”
One of Soup Kitchen’s most anticipated nights in their autumn schedule, today’s the day for Shame – the band who’ve been causing such a Southern stir – to pay a little visit up North. Bursting onto the scene back in 2016 with debut firecracker ‘Gold Hole’, the quintet’s catastrophic success is thanks to their unique ability to capture this generations’ frustrations within intense, bite-size, post-punk bangers.
You’ve never seen more suits at a gig before as the lights go down, ‘Ebeneezer Goode’ blares out, and the band launch themselves onto the stage. There’s an explosion of riffs and drums as Steen lets rip, looking like the ultimate 70’s dad with his high-waisted Levi’s and red leather jacket. It’s hard to capture the passion in words. Repeatedly bashing into each other and not giving a fuck about doing so, the five are vibrant, electric, caring simply about the music and nothing else. They’re a less problematic Cabbage, a more relevant Fat White Family – and one of the best live bands around.
It’s impossible to not draw comparisons to FIDLAR as latest single ‘Concrete’ begins, its ‘Cocaine’-esque riff bolstered by screeching backing vocals from drummer Charlie Forbes and bassist Josh Finerty. ‘One Rizla’ is more dreamy, seeing Steen rubbing his nipples as the sweat climbs the walls and Sean Coyle-Smith whacks some sweet reverb on his guitar. ‘Tasteless’ follows suit, building an infectiously buzzing atmosphere as the circle pit gets bigger and bigger, a constant and relentless stream of lyrics blurting out of Steen’s mouth.
There’s no denying that there’s a cult around Shame. A guy jumps up and fiercely hugs Steen; another begs relentlessly for his Red Stripe. He’s a compère, checking in with everyone, repeatedly asking if we’re all okay, patting everyone’s heads like his children as they come forward to wrestle the microphone from his grip. His monotonous and deadpan delivery in ‘The Lick’ (“I breathed it in, I breathed it out, I thought nothing of it then and think nothing of it now”) is insane; by the time ‘Angie’ rolls around, there’s simply no controlling the crowd.
“Manchester, thank you very much for having us!” Steen bows as a guy jumps onstage to launch himself back across the room. “What a time to be alive!”. As the circle pit opens once more, it looks like everyone here is thinking the same.