The house lights go down.
The already rowdy crowd get rowdier and crowdier.
The strains of Bernsteins theme from “The Magnificent Seven” blares from the P.A.
Here come the gang.
All present and correct.
Like a Yorkshire collective of Dorian Grey’s they stalk the stage, soaking up every roar of the audience…and what a roar they let out.
Not a single note of music has been played yet.
When the first bars of “Room in My House” strike the reaction is unlike anything I’ve ever heard at a concert. The room erupts. The floor vibrates with the stomps of hundreds of feet, the balcony shakes as people ignore security and lurch to their feet and my heart starts pounding harder than the drums. All that for a song from a new album…not some long loved classic but an instant classic. This is the first hint that tonight is not about nostalgia or cashing in on some sort of revival but is, instead, all about the now and maybe even the future.
What follows is a set that is hit heavy with singles like “Where Have You Been Tonight?”, “Dolphin”, “Devil in Your Shoes”, “She Left Me on a Friday” and others throwing the crowd into a fit of fist punching, foot thumping, hand clapping frenzy. In between are classic album tracks and new songs from “Instant Pleasures”.
Everyone around me is grinning.
Everyone around me is singing.
Everyone around me is filled with the sort of joy normally reserved for the birth of a new baby!
Good as the set has been though the final seven songs fling this gig into a different league. It starts 11 songs in with “Better Days” which is, and there is no other word, anthemic. The crowd belt it back at Rick and the gang as though it’s the only song they’ve ever heard or ever want to hear. It’s a near religious moment. A song that fills the room with hope. No other band could provide what Shed Seven then hit us with as they launch into the holy trinity of Britpop with “Disco Down”, “Bully Boy” and “Going for Gold”. People are giddy.
The encore is even better with “It’s Not Easy”, “Getting Better” and the glorious “Chasing Rainbows” elevating a fabulous gig to the status of legendary gig. As we file out of the hall every face is strained to breaking point with a grin as wide as the Clyde. This is a night that will live long in the memory and, truthfully, there isn’t another band who could have done it.
The boys are back…we should all be grateful.