It’s a cold Saturday night in Bristol. Hundreds have gathered at renowned venue, Marble Factory, to smoke Camel Blues, drink £5.50 cans of Red Stripe, and to ultimately ling their limbs in a fit of sweaty rage whilst London post-punkers Shame perform the last show of their November tour.
Entering the stage to Jason Derulo’s ‘Whatcha Say’ and thunderous cheers from an already half-cut audience, Shame waste no time in opening the set with energetic and angular track ‘Alphabet’. Swaggering across the stage, tossing microphone from hand to hand, lead vocalist Charlie Steen exudes the energy of a long-lost love child to Baxter Dury and Henry Rollins. Commanding the crowd with the mere twist of a hand, and basking in adoration, Steen sets the precedent for what is to be a raucous, chaotic, and entirely hypnotic 60-minute set.
As ‘Alphabet’ draws to a close, Shame rapidly erupt in to ‘6/1’, a song which even when recorded constantly threatens to tear apart and burst at the seams; unable to contain its energy within the digital boundaries of mp3. Now, however, ‘6/1’ proudly rears its ferocious head and tears its way through a willing crowd. Any sign of exhaustion that may have been accrued during the band’s tour has been well and truly discarded. A perception that becomes even more apparent when bassist Josh Finerty tears across the stage, executing his signature thrash-and-run performance.
The set continues, and Shame seamlessly weave their way through songs from both Drunk Tank Pink and Songs of Praise, reminding fans that their debut album still stands firm amongst their newer creations. As the slow and oozing bassline of ‘The Lick’ disperses throughout the room, Steen clambers atop the heads and shoulders of the audience. His footing steadies and he stands tall, arms outspread, with a roaring crowd below him. The song builds and builds, and Steen throws himself into the sea of sweaty hands below.
Despite all this chaos, there are still moments of respite within the set. Songs of Praise ender ‘Angie’ and the smooth roller ‘Human, For A Minute’ offer a welcome break from the intense performance and showcase the more melodic and contemplative side to Shame’s music. It’s clear that Shame have crafted their set to be not just an endless barrage of angular guitars and barking vocals, but an experience that engages their audience and leaves a lasting impression.
Another highlight comes in the form of the darker and more atmospheric single, ‘Snow Day’. Performing the first part of the song behind a veil of thick fog and blue lights, the audience are left with the uncanny feeling that the music is coming from both everywhere and nowhere at the same time. As the song begins to increase in ferocity, Steen explodes through the fog in a cinematic display which only serves to amplify the already theatrical experience.
An honourable mention for set highlight must also be made for Steen spearing his microphone stand into the crowd like a Spartan warrior engaged in battle. A health and safety nightmare of course, but a memorable moment, nonetheless.
Drawing a close to their hour long set, Shame saunter their way through ‘Station Wagon’, eventually culminating in a ferocious and impassioned crescendo that serves as a symbolic ender for not just their Bristol set, but also their tour. And whilst there may be no encore tonight, there is an unwavering certainty that when Shame do once again return to Bristol, it will be to an even larger crowd than the one tonight.
Words: Taryn McDonnell // Photo: Sam Gregg
Shame’s latest album ‘Drunk Tank Pink’ is out now via Dead Oceans. Stream and purchase the album, along with the rest of their discography via Bandcamp.