I saw these miscreants at the Swn Festival in Cardiff in 2016. They were the first band on the bill on the Sunday and shook off a few hangovers and generally left people uncomfortable with their gnarly post-punk, menacing prowess and semi-nakedness. This gig further piqued my interest in them.
Date: May 1, 2017
At a Shame gig, there are a few things you might see that you wouldn’t at your usual gig. When was the last time you saw Ed Sheeran lob down his guitar, charge off stage and plant a punch at someone for example? Guitarist Eddie is guilty of that particular charm offensive at a prevoius gig.
But it’s front man Charlie Steen that we should be really worried about. His stage presence invites controversy as he literally spits out goblets of angst on his hand and lovingly rubs it onto his face like a proto-punk cat, spits and lobs beer, gets semi naked and genuinely looks like he might murder someone at any given point. He’s a firebrand; a ticking time bomb of pent up post Brexit, pre-election torment, and on each song – songs that consist of explosive aggro-post-punk by the way – he’s like a brandy snap of emotional dysfunction.
His eyes fixate menacingly on members of the audience, making anyone in his Medusa stare severely uncomfortable.
They start with The Lick, and Charlie is resplendent in fetching tanned leather jacket and Billy Bragg T-Shirt, but you know he’s about to shed those. By Tasteless – with its bilious mantra: “I like you better when you’re not around” – his nipples are already showing.
In short, Shame sound like Slaves covering Sleaford Mods with a hint of Fat White Family if they were The Fall, and Charlie is a sweaty, re-animated Ian Curtis of Joy Division.
But it’s not about how they sound at gigs. They’ve admitted that it’s about entertainment. People will have their own view on what’s entertainment and what’s not; it’s subversive, but what Shame certainly are is compelling, eye-glaringly, scarily compelling. Whether they’re in your face during a crowd invasion or just doing post-punk how it should be done, they’re a biting snapshot of what music is lacking. They are punk. They are excellent.