The Sheds are back once again at Rock City, as Rick’s obsession with overtaking Spear of Destiny as the band to have played the venue the most times intensifies. It’s also his birthday. But is everything ok…
Date: November 23, 2019
Venue: Rock City
It’s Rick Witter’s birthday, but it’s hard to tell if he’s in a good mood or a bad mood from the early exchanges with the crowd. After rousing opener Room in my House, from their 2017 Instant Pleasures album wets the whistles of the sold out, predominantly male audience, Rick has a pop at someone for holding up a sign with their name on, which he follows with some passive aggressive “banter”. We begin to wonder if turning 47 might not agree with him.
“Seriously, you’re asking me to sign that now!”, he continues, as an audience member sees an opportunity to get his attention mid-set. “I’ve got work to do”. And the crowd’s chants of Happy Birthday are not met with much appreciation either. The opposite in fact. The band make ‘slitting throat’ gestures in a bid to stop the chants. What some of the crowd know others clearly do not. We’re meant to wait until On Standby before we sing Happy Birthday. But is Rick ok? Is this birthday bash in jeopardy of going south? We’ll see. He sounds great, that’s for sure. In this two-hour set there’s a real mixture of old and relatively new, and the songs are bolstered by an organ and a brass section. Then, prior to the first chord of On Standby, his band present Rick with a birthday cake and thankfully, there are wide smiles. It’s a ‘phew’ moment, Rick’s ok, he’s embraced it. Play on. And indeed they do, and the don’t half play well.
Formed in 1990, there’s no signs of fatigue or gigging for gigs’ sake with this bunch. They love it, and they love Rock City. Rick is obsessed with Spear of Destiny holding the record of being the band who have played the venue the most times. Shed Seven are not far behind, and he teases that to surpass Spear of Destiny, they might have to do a week’s residency. “Would you come?”, he enquires. Yes, is the unanimous answer.
They have an arsenal of songs to choose from, and it’s a pleasure to hear first album songs Mark, Dolphin and Ocean Pie (although Speakeasy is absent).
But without doubt, it’s the songs from their scintillating sophomore record, A Maximum High, that are met with the most gusto, not least the anthemic Going for Gold, which morphs seamlessly into U2’s Angel of Harlem.
Elsewhere, Disco Down is a pulsing, throbbing dance floor filler. It’s the slinkiest, grooviest song they’ve ever produced, hidden away on a Best Of complication. Usually those tracks get forgotten, but not this one. Rock City is bouncing.
But if it’s an anthem you want then it’s an anthem you shall get when Chasing Rainbows closes their immense set in climactic fashion. Its verse is sang in unison; its chorus is chanted back at them like a terrace favourite. It’s spine-tingling and tantalisingly sublime.
Rick, it turned out, was ok with being 47 after all, and it turned out to be some party. A residency? Why not. Rock City could quite easily become Rick City for a week.