Live Report: Shed Seven – O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, London

Britpop evergreens prove their worth...

Shed Seven are unstoppable. Almost three decades on from the height of their music career, the unit is still going strong, with no traceable signs of a slowdown. 

The fifteen track setlist, plus an encore of three, illustrates four numbers from the group’s forthcoming studio album ‘A Matter Of Time’ due for release early next year. Achieving a balance, seemingly without compromise, not denying the right to enjoy the nostalgic ‘90s vibes, fans of the York band rightly expect to hear the hits, as a result new material is sprinkled across the running order in moderation. 

A large majority of the indie bangers are revived this evening, and they animate the hungry crowd. As the group go through the show, the energy persists, with a passion that is hard to beat. 

With a list comprising the old and the new, singalongs and crowd connection are easily achieved. Opener ‘Room In My House’ eases the crowd into compelling song moment ‘Kissing California’, before the familiar ‘Speakeasy’ guitar riff is heard. Expectedly, frontman Rick Witter is in a good mood, engaging with the crowd, interspersed with the signature hip fling.

“Did you ever get dumped?”, the singer goes, as he addresses the crowd. “On a Thursday! So do you expect me to change the lyrics?” he responds. It’s time for ‘She Left Me On A Friday’, an unquestionable set highlight, the rendition is closely followed by ‘Long Time Dead’, ‘Where Have You Been Tonight?’ and ‘Going For Gold’. 

The positioning of the addictive ‘In Ecstasy’ is fitting. Rowetta features on the studio recording, and although she is not present tonight, it feels like she could have been. Shortly after golden mid-set pleasers, the Smiths indebted ‘Dolphin’ and ‘On Standby’, and the more tongue in cheek ‘Bully Boy’ are performed in snappy succession, with the latter generating a mosh pit-like response in the audience.

Jangly and new, ‘F:K:H’ shows the band in a classic light, one that definitely suits them. Few songs ignite a reaction quite like ‘Getting Better’, however, embodying the ideal blend of attitude and self-belief, it is energising.

Spirits are high when the band return for the encore, and it makes sense to begin with ‘Starlings’. The mesmeric track has a dark edge, and according to Witter, it’s about death.

The magnitude of Shed Seven remains a thing. Even if their show relies on a slice of nostalgia, its infectious, feel-good sentiment is real, the only question left is, since when was there reason to reject such feelings? Especially, when it’s getting better all the time.

Shed Seven’s new album ‘A Matter Of Time’ is out on January 5th.

Words: Susan Hansen

Join the Clash mailing list for up to the minute music, fashion and film news.