Shed Seven

Fibbers, York

November 17-18

THE last thing you’d want before starting your biggest-ever tour following the release of your first album in 16 years is for your frontman to pick up a throat virus.

That rotten luck has hit Shed Seven, but it was hard to tell on a weekend of celebration for the York indie heroes.

Singer Rick Witter was not going to call off these two hometown gigs at a rammed Fibbers, which officially kicked off their 2017 tour – especially not after their new release, Instant Pleasures, debuted this week at number eight in the album charts, topping all expectations for the indie underdogs against some moneyed heavyweights.

Talking of Instant Pleasures, it must have been difficult deciding how many of its songs should make it onto the set.

In the end, only four were chosen, which was a bit disappointing given the rave reviews the new offering has received from pros and punters alike.

Then again, with such a back catalogue of much-loved tracks, several of which also had to be omitted, it’s a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

It would certainly have been a risk to alter too much the tried-and-tested winning formula of nostalgia, which has proved so successful since the band began touring their old hits again a decade ago.

The main set opened with the third single off the new album, the rocking Nothing To Live Down, and closed with the thumping first, Room In My House. Also included was its power ballad It’s Not Easy, while the encore began with another Instant Pleasure – the heartfelt Better Days, which Witter did well to power through given the difficult notes.

On that point, the crowd, as was always going to be the case, helped him all night by belting out the songs themselves. The fact so many already knew the words to the new material underlines how well it has been received.

Witter was also given a little respite by son Duke – himself the frontman of upcoming local band, and excellent support act, Serotones - who took over the mic for 1990s classic Going For Gold, doing so with no little panache for someone so young.

Friday’s gig in particular was a family affair, with drummer Alan Leach’s mum in attendance on her birthday and getting an impromptu serenading from the audience.

The pick of the old tracks, meanwhile, were… well, take your own pick. It was a shame it all lasted only 90 minutes.

Included was a tribute to the Stone Roses, as the band reprised their rocktastic cover of the famous guitar-led instrumental bit of I Am The Resurrection, morphing it seamlessly into She Left Me On Friday.

This was one of a few occasions in which Paul Banks and Joe Johnson took centre-stage, that twin guitar attack again a highlight. How they decide who gets the best guitar bits is anyone’s guess.

The show all ended, as has been the case for years, with the singalong of all singalongs, Chasing Rainbows. Such a finale may be predictable but is that a bad thing? The bottom line is you know what you’re gonna get with this band, and that’s a rocking good night. Sore throat or no sore throat.