Local Bands Support Brit-Pop Legends
Leah Hamer || August 3rd
This glorious music scene of ours has been booming throughout the past few months, but, in all honesty, in recent weeks it has been missing something. Stand-out riffs, power-to-the-people lyrics, and a slither of Stokie charm- these qualities have been some-what absent for a while, since May 14th, to be precise. But finally, they’re back. Since their last gig, Broken Flags have found themselves in a state of hibernation whilst awaiting the arrival of a new drummer, but their patience was worth it as they were delivered first-class seventeen-year-old, Patrick Barwick, a teenage Dave Grohl. Bagging a support slot for Shed Seven as their second gig back just shows the respect that Broken Flags conjure, and they did not disappoint. Equipped with a fresh set-list and outlook, all four members delivered a spotless performance, each shining, in particular, on individual tracks. Jack Dooley’s showmanship was in full-force for their last single Sweet Decadence, Lew Adam’s heart-starting solos in Dare To Dream, Josh Buckley’s intense bass in new addition This Life, and Pat’s thudding beat in Enemy. Broken Flags are back and ready for business.
The Rivalry have gotten to a stage in their career where they can be selective and wise in choosing their gigs. They have become a special rarity recently and so when they perform, the hype is apparent for months in advance. So when they come to the stage, Keele Ballroom explodes. This Is How We Do It In Our Town, Silent Disco- these songs are already classics, and their fans love them in the same manner that they all love Shed Seven. The Rivalry are a band that suit this venue, they belong on a stage towering above the crowd, rather than cooped up in the corner of a pub. Technically superb, each member is intrinsically intertwined with their instrument and neither of them will ever falter. Punchy bass lines, anthemic choruses and that sweet sweet saxophone make The Rivalry a modern revival of Britpop, with a twist, which makes them, alongside Broken Flags, the perfect warm-up act to prepare us for the legends waiting backstage.
Shed Seven represent an era, a generation, a lifestyle. Regardless of whether or not you don side burns and paisley shirts, it is impossible to not look upon them and recognise that they are titans of Britpop, of the nineties, of music. To this day they maintain an unprecedented following who are alive with a communal ecstasy, and they were all at Keele on Friday night thanks to Mark Askew.
Singer Rick Witter is a savvy and thoughtful performer, he slides around the stage like a snake, spiralling his microphone around him and dancing in and out of the wires. He chats up the crowd with ease, acknowledging his love of the diversity of their fan-base. A fourteen-year-old boy named Blue was hanging over the front barrier and caught Witter’s eye as he stretches to give him a high-five. ‘Blue, mate, are you here under any type of sufferance?’, when he replies ‘no’, the crowd roars and the band members praise the young prodigy. Witter’s pride is blatantly visible, he has this Yorkshire grin and cheeky wit that shows how much he loves his audience, and the feeling is mutual.
An hour and a half set brought us all of their best, High Hopes, Where Have You Been Tonight?, Going For Gold, and the overwhelming encore of Chasing Rainbows meant that Witter didn’t even need to sing for most of the set. He just held out his mic and we filled in the gaps. By the end of the show I somehow ended up on the front row, slowly being crushed by some particularly burly forty-year-old men, so that pretty much speaks for itself.
Afterwards I found myself in the after-party in the dressing room, surrounded by die-hard fans and a pick and mix of members from every band. It was here that Shed Seven drummer Alan Leach attempted to teach me how to roll my ‘r’s, until we were interrupted by the clock. At the stroke of midnight, a young fan was turning eighteen, and we all sung to her as the brass-section of Shed Seven came in from the balcony playing Happy Birthday. She won’t be forgetting that night any time soon, and neither will anyone else.