‘She left me on Friday, and ruined my weekend…’
The Twang are a little unfortunate that their particular brand of passion infused lad rock wasn’t really in vogue first time round when their debut album Love It When I Feel Like This dropped back in 2007. Since then, Kasabian and The Courteeners have become two of the biggest bands in the country, so the time for a Twang comeback is certainly now. Their performance as the opening act at Leeds Arena confirms that the fire still burns deep within the hearts of the Birmingham sextet.
Kicking off with Wide Awake, lead singer and bandleader Phil Etheridge leads his gang through a greatest hits set that includes a triumphant rendition of Either Way and a stunning run through of Two Lovers. ‘We are The Twang from Birmingham in case you’ve never heard of us’, Etheridge intones part way through the set. Don’t worry Phil, everyone in Leeds Arena knows who you are now.
Fellow indie survivors Reverend and the Makers are up next and the Sheffield band have played so many festivals and support slots in the last two years, as well their own headline tour, that they now have a set that is polished and disciplined whilst still leaving a lot of room to jump about and get your knees up. Bassline shudders throughout Leeds Arena to kick things off before Shine the Light and Black Widow have the whole place jumping. The eponymous reverend, Jon McClure, asserts ‘this place pisses all over Sheffield Arena’, and as someone who has been a regular attendee at both venues I can confirm that he is absolutely right. Heavyweight Champion of the World enjoys a rousing reception before traditional set closer Silence is Talking closes out another successful Yorkshire homecoming for Jon McClure and his band.
And so… to the main event.
It is a testament to the longevity of Shed Seven and the loyalty of their fan base that they are playing their biggest gig to date now, in 2019, a full 25 years since the band dropped their first single. This isn’t an accident of course. It is through a mixture of a live set comprised of fire and skill, a willingness to engage with their fanbase and the success of 2017’s comeback album Instant Pleasures that Rick Witter and his band have remained as relevant and popular as they are now. This is confirmed at Leeds Arena by a snarling run through of Room In My House – the opening single from that most recent record.
It is customary in any Shed Seven review to remark how easy it is to forget just how many great songs they wrote in their ’90s heydey, but by Christ is this a hit parade. An anthemic Where Have You Been Tonight? makes way for the unstoppable Ocean Pie, She Left Me On Friday has everyone on their feet and Devil In Your Shoes confirms Shed Seven’s status as the masters of the indie ballad. All the while, Witter dances and sneers, a ball of energy made up of limbs and laughter. He is the perfect frontman. Arrogant and humble. Aggressive and gentle. This is what keeps us coming back. In truth, the entire band are on the form of their lives with Paul Banks imperious on guitar as ever.
On Standby gets a massive reception as one of the genuine lost classics of the britpop era and it is telling how comfortably It’s Not Easy slots in. It is deserving of its place on any Shed Seven greatest hits set.
Going for Gold makes the most of the suitably adorned brass section resplendent in sparkling gold jackets and it also sees every single punter within Leeds Arena on their feet as one. An incredible sight and one that will live long in the memory. Witter even treats us to a cheeky cover of U2’s Angel of Harlem as part of the song’s crescendo.
A searing Parallel Lines closes out the first part of the set before the conquering heroes return for fan favourite Disco Down. There is only one possible set closer for such a night of colour and beauty and Chasing Rainbows is as essential as it ever has been. Confetti cannons light up Leeds Arena as rain falls outside. It’s safe to say we are in the throes of Shedcember.
Witter thanks the crowd effusively for parting with their hard earned cash, but the truth is that most of us would probably pay twice over for another performance like this one, and let’s hope we have the chance in a couple of years when Shed will mostly likely return like a slightly forgetful Father Christmas.
To paraphrase an old man, they’re getting better all the time…