Saturday 28 October 2023

Shed Seven / The Slow Readers Club - Glasgow Barrowland - 26th October 2023

As they approach their 30th anniversary, and a new album, Shed Seven hit the road, with this tour serving as both a preview of the new and a celebration of the old. They've asked The Slow Readers Club along as special guests.

Manchester four piece The Slow Readers Club are no strangers to Glasgow, having worked their way up through the city's venues – including Stereo, The Classic Grand, King Tuts, The ABC, The Garage and SWG3 earlier this year – but tonight is their big bucket list venue, the legendary Barrowland Ballroom. The band are on early and there's a reasonable crowd; it should be bigger however we hear later that the queue is taking a long time to get in the venue. As the set continues, the crowd and the enthusiasm grows with both established Readers fans and new converts loving their seven song set. 

Opening with the majestic Modernise, it's a real call to arms and a fine opening statement as the band relish the surroundings. The sound in the old venue is magnificent and crystal clear, with Aaron's voice sounding better than ever. The band are on fire as the sound of David's drums pounds around the ballroom. Kurt's backing vocals are like a mantra. Modernise is followed by The Wait and starts with Jim's imposing bassline. The Wait keeps the momentum up. It's no mean feet to showcase their wares to a mostly neutral crowd when The Slow Readers Club have six albums worth of material but song selection on this tour is perfect. 

Aaron thanks Shed Seven and reveals his first ever gig was a Shed Seven show at Manchester Academy on The Maximum High tour before dedicating Forever In Your Debt to them. There's an incredible freshness, and a timelessness to Forever In Your Debt. Despite being a staple in the Readers set list for a decade, it is delivered with a real passion and the response from the audience is growing with every tune. 

The pace is maintained by a super tight Jericho. Jim's punchy basslines are complimented by Kurt's riffs. Aaron's voice gives the song an anthemic quality whilst Dave's precision drumming dictates the pace. I've never heard such a rousing version of Jericho and the rest of the crowd love it too. It just keeps getting better and better and You Opened Up My Heart shifts the performance up another gear. There's a real Motown influence to the start of the song before the big chorus in the middle. It's delivered with a real passion and emotion. I Saw A Ghost has a thumping, domineering rhythm section and adored by the now near full Barrowland crowd. Aaron suggests it's an ideal song to add to your Halloween playlist before Lunatic brings the short set to a close (Shed Seven finish their set a good 20 minutes before curfew so we could have had a few more tunes from The Slow Readers Club). Lunatic is a storming tune to finish the set with and in truth, it was delivered as if it was a headline set. Phenomenal.

It's Shed Seven's night though and they return to one of their favourite venues, where they recorded a live album back in 2003. They take to the stage to the strains of The Magnificent Seven theme tune before launching into the first of their classics, Room In My House.

Singer Rick Witter prowls every inch of the Barrowland stage as the 2000-strong crowd provide backing vocals. It's followed by equally rousing Speakeasy and another massed sing-a-long. The atmosphere is incredible and it feels like an intimate show. Rick engages with Ian from Alloa and organises an impromptu party for after the show back at Ian's. Rick is a real showman and almost occupies the middle ground between band front man and game show host. Everyone here is a seasoned veteran and a disciple of Shed Seven, with the occasional exception. Rick then talks to Harry, 14, before telling him his girlfriend mustn't leave him on a Friday and the place erupts with She Left Me On Friday. 

Rick suggests there will be celebrations next year to mark their 30th anniversary before launching into Long Time Dead, and easing the pace a little. Where Have You Been Tonight? follows and is augmented by their brass section who add sparkling touches to many of tonight's songs including an excellent cover of the Elvis classic Suspicious Minds which is segued with Going For Gold. 

Rick then turns his attention to the new album A Matter of Time, which is released on 5th January. The band showcase a few tunes from that tonight including In Ecstasy and will feature Rowetta on the recorded version. It's a fast paced rocker that fits perfectly with their back catalogue and is well received from their adoring crowd. Dolphin marks a return to more familiar territory and is dominated by Paul Banks' Squire-esq guitar work. The anthems keep coming with On Standby and Bully Boy being a particular highlight. New song FKH slows the pace down and gives the audience a bit of a breather. An epic Ocean Pie and Getting Better bring the main set to a close.

The fragile Starlings opens the encore and is a real departure in the set. Unfortunately it doesn't hold the attention of some in the crowd which is a real shame as it deserves a listen. Disco Down ramps up the pace and re-engages the crowd; it also brings out the “here we f'cking go” crew for thankfully the only time of the evening; there's nothing worse at a Glasgow gig for a band to drowned out by that lot. 

Disco Down is beautifully augmented once again by the brass section before Chasing Rainbows brings the evening to a close. There's a mutual love and respect from band and crowd and you can see that the band relish every minute of being on the hallowed Barrowland stage. Shed Seven have a loyal and dedicated fan base that few bands can rival and they are still producing new material on a par with their earlier work. Expect a lot more from them over the coming year.

Shed Seven's official site can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.

The Slow Readers Club's official website can be found here. They are also on Facebook and Twitter. They finish the year at Manchester Yes Basement (November 24), Manchester Canvas (December 1) and Manchester New Century Hall (8).


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