Shame Review

Cheers subside, the crowd crackles electric. A single spotlight has snapped on, silhouetting through piped smoke guitarist Sean Coyle-Smith. Backlit, he lets the room hang like this a moment – then he carves into Dust on Trial, the opener to debut LP Songs of Praise. The riff builds to a crescendo, heart rates rise, the light shuts off. Silence. An almighty crash, a network of strobes, and there, in all their leaping, snarling and noisyglory are Shame. They are mesmerising. Bassist Josh Finerty hurls himself through the air, legs splayed; Drummer Charlie Forbes thrashes at centre-rear, solid and imposing; Guitarists Eddie Green and Coyle-Smith chop in unison; and there, roaring at the forefront of it all, vocalist Charlie Steen is nothing short of rabid.

Following a solid, but static, set from their South-London neighbours, Sorry, Shame’s vivacity is welcome. The crowd come alive, involuntary smiles flash, lit smoke mingles with steam and sweat, the Waterfront becomes a ferocious space. This is Shame’s first time in Norwich and they are leaving their mark.

Finerty and Steen are showmen par-excellence. The former running laps of the stage, bass guitar carving arcs through the air, a sweating, shirted embodiment of the band’s sound. Steen too seems to act as a conductor of sorts, writhing with the power of the music and bursting it onwards to the audience – mad-gesturing, gurning, poring over them dotingly and with unfettered aggression. He parades up, down and over the stage-front, as sure-footed atop hands and bodies as he is on floor or fence. In the breathy spaces between songs, his growled preambles range from the heartfelt to the impish (‘This next one is off of the new McDonalds advert’). Towards the end of the gig he hurls himself shirtless onto a sea of arms which, to his bemusement, soon turn him around and deposit him back onto the stage. Naturally he tries again – ‘Norwich, Norfolk, please, fucking enjoy yourselves’.

Their live sound is beefy and urgent. Hard-hitting, tight musicianship and total performance take priority over the album’s more produced, lyrical focus to great effect. From crunching Fall-esque riffing to tales of teenage abandon, cathartic DIY punk all the way to moments of purple-lit pop loftiness, Shame’s live set speaks to and embodies youthful escapism. From start to finish they were enthralling, denying any space for conjecture or time-checking with pure, indefatigable passion. If you haven’t then you should. Watch this band.

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Tom Ryan

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January 2022
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