Live Review: Shame // Leeds University Stylus 5.3.23

“This is gonna be the best Sunday night of your fucking lives!” Bellows Charlie Steen, one song into their headline show in Leeds.

Shame’s third record, Food For Worms, hit turntables and playlists alike last Friday and gathered critical acclaim as well as immediate love from Shame’s faithful.

Opening the show with ‘Fingers of Steel’, Shame are every bit the tight, well-drilled live unit needed to do their new tunes justice. The London band are utterly relentless, tearing into tune after tune, barely giving the crowd a moment to catch their collective breath. As Shame have become a behemoth of a live band, Steen has grown into an enigmatic frontman: he goads and taunts the crowd into opening pit after pit before hurling himself into the sweaty masses. Steen re-emerges from the revelry, hoisted above heads whilst still somehow delivering his lines.

‘Six Pack’ is a highlight of the evening, with the frontman claiming “this track will take years off your life” and the subsequent bouncing and moshing may well have done for the Leeds crowd. The new gear sounds superb, a testament to the band’s quality; the decision to record FFW ‘as live’ allows Shame to flawlessly recreate the energy on the record. As the set winds between all three of Shame’s releases to date, the blueprint for Food for Worms becomes increasingly apparent. The spiky edges of Songs of Praise cuts and the more considered darkness of Drunk Tank Pink make themselves known: songs like ‘Alphabet’ and ‘Snow Day’ are early examples of Shame perfecting the ‘loud-quiet’ sound which they pull of so successfully throughout their most recent record.

As the band launch into ‘Snow Day’ Steen, who is now wearing nothing but an impressive set of stonewash flares, finds himself climbing the side barriers of Leeds Stylus, bellowing the words into the faces of delighted punters. You half expect him to launch into the crowd from above, a-la Yannis Philippakis, but Steen manages to climb back round to the stage before embarking on another stage dive.

Someone in the rabble shouts “One Rizla!” requesting their much beloved early single. “We don’t play that one anymore”, the frontman quips back, half a second before the band launch into the tune, sending the Stylus into meltdown.

Shame’s sonic progression has been a pleasure to behold, but they are now surely amongst the best live bands in Britain.


photo credit: Pooneh Ghana

Author avatar
Charlie Brock

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