90’s Britpop crashed The Limelight in Belfast tonight and showed after some 20 years it still could deliver a high energy, twangy guitar crashing sound that gave a whole bunch of forty somethings a chance for a couple of hours to live the days of their youth all over again.
Support on the night came from John Power, lead singer of Cast and former member of The La’s. Strolling on stage asking “what time do you call this?“, a reference to the current trend in the Limelight for early gigs to get the kids in for the disco later on, he launches into……….. nothing!. He says he hasn’t a clue what he is going to play and stands around for a minute or two debating this with the audience.
He then proceeds to entertain the crowd with a run through his back catalogue including a raft of well-known songs including Sandstorm, Finetime, Walkaway and Alright. It was genuinely nice for a change to have a support band that held the attention of an audience instead of the sometimes usual chit-chat you get. Anyone expecting a rendition of There She Goes would have been disappointed though. Maybe its a time he doesn’t wish to remember. Who knows?
Shed Seven were formed in York in the early nineties and were part of the 90’s Britpop revolution and whilst they didn’t receive the adulation that the likes of Blur and Oasis did they are still after all this time a force to be reckoned with on the live scene and gave a show to remember to a large Belfast crowd.
The band came onstage to the strains of the theme to ‘The Magnificent Seven’ and burst into Room In My House with a back beat of a thumping bass.
What Shed Seven have done perfectly is to give their fans sing along indie-pop tunes. Everyone knows the words to every song. Why don’t you just crank out another anthem? They do in the form of Where Have You Been Tonight?.
Everyone in the room tonight is back in their twenties even though the canvas on show is a whole bunch of forty and fifty year-olds having a great night. They play People Will Talk from their 2017 release Instant Pleasures but ultimately it still carries that Britpop vibe even after all this time. There is an added brass section sporting very cool Shed Zeppelin T-Shirts, a play on the iconic Led Zeppelin Fallen Angel motif.
Dolphin could have been written for their Brummie Nineties counterparts The Wonderstuff and after a small technical gremlin with Rick Whitter’s microphone on Cry For Help they smash out a single chord which every person in that audience knows will morph into On Standby and the place goes mad.
Rick Whitter is feeling particularly chatty tonight and ha has a conversation with Andrew in the front row about his lack of a smile. “Are you having a good night?” asks Whitter before launching into Devil In your Shoes. He is an energetic front man in spite of his forty-five years and tonight he sports some stitches above his left eye. Let’s leave it at the fact he just fell last night apparently!
Every song is a hit, they had so many and it was She Left Me On Friday before the level dropped a little with Better Days, again taken from the album Instant Pleasures which Whitter informed us was sixteen years coming and 3 years in the making. Expect the next one in 2032 he told us.
Disco Down has an underlying keyboard sound akin to the legendary Stevie Wonders’ Superstition. It is the biggest sing along of the night so far.
Then comes the encore, Rick Whitter tells us all exactly how it will happen. The band will pretend to go off, hide in a small cupboard for two minutes then come back out for 2 more songs. But not first before throwing a set of maracas into the crowd, with fair warning given, as he says they tend to hit people who are not paying attention.
The encore ensues and first up is It’s Not Easy from the new album. Getting Better is relentless and just keeps on thumping and there is a proper audience sing along in karaoke style with the front row. Let’s be honest though, Rick Whitter’s front man position is not under any great threat from this lot.
There was no other finish than the final anthem of the night and the crowd just keep on singing it. ‘There are things that I regret’ cries the opening line of Chasing Rainbows, but I think tonight is a night of no regrets for every single person in the place tonight. Roll on the next time because they will be back.