Live Review: Shame – Manchester


Manchester, Gorilla, 13th April 2018

Words: Caleb Curtis

If Whitworth Street West in Manchester didn’t know who Shame were by the start of the night, they certainly did by the end. With attitudes that spoke as loud as their blistering sound, Gorilla itself appeared to be shaking at the foundations, as the young band cavorted their way through a roughly ten-song set. Brash, bold, and break-neck, Shame delivered a night that won’t soon be forgotten.
However, the recipients of the night’s audible thrashing were treated first to Gurr, a Berlin-based act who we were told started a band after dreams of being lawyers fell through. Although supported on stage by an accompanying bassist and drummer, they are in essence a ferocious, female-fronted two-piece. Not afraid to remind the crowd of their roots, they switched between songs performed in German and English, reassuring the 600-capacity room not to feel bad about failing to understand the lyrical content of some of their set. It appeared clear that feeling bad was far from the truth, however – heads were nodding and feet were moving throughout the half-hour or so that succeeded in preparing the crowd for the upcoming chaos.
Appearing on stage promptly at 9pm was perhaps Shame’s only conformist act of the night. The rigmarole that ensued, however, was angst-filled carnage that left little doubt that the 20-year-olds have something to say. Their method of getting that message across to us? Blazing their way through the majority of their recently released debut album, Songs of Praise
And what a debut that is, too. The first few songs of the set followed the track listing of the album with devotion, opening with Dust on Trial, a slow-building slice of hectic post-punk goodness. This was followed by Concrete, the faster pace of which gave way to rowdy pits and barely a soul stood still. Perhaps the band’s biggest and most accessible track, One Rizla, was introduced as a pop song that was written when the band’s faith in the financial stability of the music industry had not yet been diminished. Laced with lyrics encouraging a rejection of insecurities – “my voice ain’t the best you’ve heard/and you can choose to hate my words/but do I give a fuck?” – it clearly resonated with the largely young, male crowd. Pop song or not, it’s an essential addition to any alternative playlist in 2018.
Charismatic frontman Charlie Steen reminded the crowd early on that any sort of discrimination based on race or sexuality won’t be tolerated, and anyone in the venue holding said marginalising beliefs can “fuck off and leave.” Met with vigorous applause, the band continued to play a new, as-yet-untitled song. It provided a welcome break from the madness for the audience, who were all eager to absorb the musical and lyrical content of the previously unheard track. “Smile, and remember,” Steen adds, “it’s just entertainment.” That appears to be an understatement.

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