Live Review: Shame // Oxford Bullingdon – Oxford

Irresistible five-piece ‘Shame’ might just be the hardest working, hardest touring and ferocious live band around right now. They’ve emerged as part of the ever growing and hugely exciting current scene in South London, along with bands such as Goat Girl and INHEAVEN.

Coming immediately off the back of a gruelling North American tour, this latest UK run has showcased just how battle-hardened and indestructible the band really are. Having fought through almost a show a night since mid-January, this is the kind of work ethic and insanity this tight gang of upstarts clearly thrive on, as the pure adrenaline and the electric buzz around the band carry them from show to show. From their astonishing performance tonight, you’d assume they hadn’t gigged in weeks, as they bounce onto stage enthusiastically.

The band all look fresh-faced and angelic, in direct contrast to the imposing figure of vocalist and chief ringleader Charlie Steen. His powerful growling voice is simply ferocious as he struts around stage, throwing himself into the frenzied ranks of fans. It takes precisely half of the vicious opening song ‘Dust on Trial’ for the frontman to plunge head first into the crowd, igniting the front rows into a feverous sea of bodies. His shirt is then swiftly discarded after the second song ‘Concrete’, as he surveys the carnage before him with just a creeping hint of a grin. Singalong anthem ‘One Rizla’ follows as they work their way through the entirety of their glorious debut album ‘Songs of Praise’, released in January earlier this year. If this is the quality and array of material at their disposal already, then the potential for the band over the next few years is limitless and frighteningly exciting. Seething basslines reminiscent of the pixies at their finest, and walls of distortion tear through the venue, with Steen spitting venomous yet thought provoking lyrics such as “Sodomy has a place in the past but now it’s fashionable, nothing new, Un-peel the glue”.

A yet untitled new track is sandwiched between jagged punk juggernauts ‘Tasteless’ and ‘Lampoon’, much to the delight of the diehard sweat soaked following, who lap up every lyric and snarl from the seemingly possessed frontman. The band manages to sound gloriously chaotic and messy, whilst simultaneously displaying a well-oiled tight clockwork synchronicity that has clearly been fine-tuned by obscene amounts of gigs in the past 12 months. Yes, shame sound angry a lot of the time because of their sound, and they have some poignant topical lyrics too, but as singer Sheen reminds the crowd before the penultimate song “This is only entertainment, so try not to take it so seriously!”. Often pigeonholed as a highly political punk band, after releasing an early single ‘Visa Vulture’, a song dedicated to their hatred of Tereasa May, the band have since insisted they have no agenda, it’s purely about the music to them. Album closer ‘Angie’ is emotive and jangly at first, building to a soaring biblical feedback-drenched climax, roared on by the sweat soaked crowd.

Tonight’s whirlwind set flies by and only cements their ever-growing reputation as being the country’s most volatile, and exciting guitar band of the moment. As the band leave the stage arm in arm to deafening screams pleading one more song, it’s abundantly clear that their work here is already done. This is a band that absolutely doesn’t require an encore. Shame won’t be back again tonight, but I expect we’ll be seeing a lot more of them in the very near future, the South London boys are here to stay, and they’re heading for bigger gigs, bigger festival stages and bigger sounds for the rest of the year.

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