“Do you remember the 1990s? They were mental,” says Shed Seven singer Rick Witter. It seems the audience do, as screams erupt and pint glasses rocket into the sky, setting the tone for an evening that seems intent on recapturing the spirit of a bygone era.
Opening song Room in My House, from their 2017 comeback album, returns to the band’s trademark template of big, ever-mounting euphoric choruses and steady chugging guitar interspersed with solos. It’s the sort of meat-and-potatoes indie rock that bands such as Kasabian resuscitated after the Britpop bubble bloated and burst around the turn of the millennium.
Older material like High Hopes and Ocean Pie is slotted neatly, and often indistinguishably, alongside newer tracks like Butterfly on a Wheel. When things feel like they’re getting a little stodgy and predictable, the band bring out a trio of brass players and some backing vocalists, who give a needed lift and welcome change in texture and structure. As a result, on songs like It’s Not Easy, the band end up sounding a little closer to the tone of 90s Spiritualized rather than the Stone Roses or Oasis – a comparison that so rattled Noel Gallagher back in the day, he once proclaimed, “Shed Seven couldn’t tie my shoelaces”.
However, as with the solo Gallagher brothers’ live reliance on Oasis’ back catalogue, the songs of Shed Seven’s heyday continue to resonate the loudest: their closing run is so rapturously received that the crowd almost drown them out with their singing. She Left Me on Friday, Disco Down and Going for Gold are all unapologetic nostalgia rushes: songs that feel like they’ve earned their place in the Britpop songbook.
Shed Seven may offer very little in the way of progression, innovation or anything resembling contemporary sounds, but in times like these you can’t begrudge people wanting to unplug from 2018 for a couple of hours and escape back to a time of singing songs about Chasing Rainbows and Better Days.