From the moment Shed Seven walk on stage you know you are in for ‘a night’. The atmosphere is electric as the band launch straight into the groovy Room In My House. Rick Witter is a kinetic force of nature feeding off the buzzing Barrowlands crowd who have ventured out on a spooky pre-Halloween night in Glasgow’s east end. With a gig on at St Luke’s across the road, sound and light emanating from Barras Art and Design and stalls open late, there was a feel-good factor before even entering the famous old ballroom.
This is a band riding a resurgent wave of Britpop fandom but who have also been savvy enough to stay in touch with, and grow, their fanbase through social media in the past few years. The pay-off is evident in the range of ages here; middle aged mums and dads, teens (some with their parents) and 30-somethings who weren’t quite old enough for the 90s heydey and are here to savour the big anthemic choruses in the present day.
The Sheds are on great form, bantering with the crowd. A young chap from Alloa puts his hand up for a post-gig party for everyone back at his place, a teenager is given relationship advice by Witter (before launching into pogo ready She Left Me On Friday) and there’s a fun Saturday morning style birthday wishes read-out for random fans in attendance.
There is next to no filler tonight with three decades worth of material to draw on. The big hits are all up for a sing-song, with special mention to the incredible mashup of Going For Gold and Elvis Presley’s Suspicious Minds making the place feel like a night down the local social club. Shed Seven are a band all about pleasing their audience while still having a good time. They don’t get bogged down in self-aggrandising mythology of other Britpoppers (hello, Mr Gallagher) and instead focus on the here and now. They give everything from first to last. And it works both ways because the Glasgow crowd radiates positivity, whooping and hollering its appreciation after every song. The band is visibly moved by the force of goodwill and lead guitarist Paul Banks pats his heart in thanks when the sold-out room sings Happy Birthday to his son on the phone.
Old favourites like Speakeasy, High Hopes and Dolphin variously get the crowd moving, grooving and losing it with each offering. With each passing song, the crowd’s limbs turn a little looser. By the end of the set, pre-encore, there’s not a static soul in the room.
Of course, this tour has another aim as it gears fans up for the release of Shed Seven’s new album, A Matter Of Time, coming out in January. Their new material from the Starling EP doesn’t disappoint. In Ecstasy is a madchester banger (sadly missing Rowetta who appears on the recording). F: K: H is a big druggy sing-a-long, which will only grow in stature and popularity as the years pass. And the title track’s haunting piano led ballad, which begins the encore, is the perfect setup for the evening’s finale. Disco Down provides the pinnacle of the hip-shaking finger-pointing fun everyone here is having before signature song Chasing Rainbows has arms in the air, tears in the eyes and brothers and sisters in arms.
While some bands are happy to tour decades-old albums for easy money, Shed Seven are pushing on, entertaining and making music for their people. Next year, they’ll celebrate 30 years as a group and everyone here tonight prays we get a good few more.