Shed Seven – Liverpool Uni 16.3.02

Being a rockstar is a tough job.  Career over by 35 at the latest, no pension plans, no security, no skills.  You record company dropped you, an indie label agreed to release your last album – it was unanimously panned by critics and only your mum bought it.  But you’ve got a shed-load of fans, baying for your blood and for your greasy hair and your rockstar poses.  What do you do?  In RockWorld’s shabby predictability, there is only one thing to do – you’ve got to tour.

“We’ve got nothing to promote, we’re just here for you lot.  Cheers.”

And this is how Rick Witter ends yet another Shed Seven gig.  Whilst it becomes increasingly hard to know whether this band are still going to be around next year (or next month, or next week) they still work slavishly for the people who put them where they are and for the issues they care about.  Next week the Sheds play a gig in their hometown of York, for which they have waived any appearance fee, and all proceeds instead will go to the financially distraught York City FC.  OK, it might not be campaigning for Tibetan Freedom or abolishing Third World debt but Shed Seven are simple working class men playing songs with more hooks than a WBO Heavyweight.  And, of course, they’re exceptional.

To the headspinning riot of ‘On Standby’ right through to the extended overhaul of the Sheds classic disco-funk-rock ‘Disco Down’ that closes the show, they prove that major labels can be shortsighted when it comes to the longevity of their guitar bands.  It is expected that their fans will have either grown up or moved on after three albums, but increasingly we are seeing reactions against this trend.  As The Charlatans and Primal Scream continue to go from strength to strength, taking their fans with them, as well as gaining new ones along the way, perhaps it will force the big record-releasers to reappraise their decision making.  However, the likes of JJ72 (last seen down the back of someone’s couch) will always be ammunition enough for record companies to not take the chance – and based on the (very average) new songs in the set, maybe Shed Seven are destined for indie label obscurity for the rest of their careers.  Probably fairly short careers.

It is presumed, probably even by the Sheds themselves, that they will never set the world on fire.  But lets hope they can keep playing live – with the combination of Witter’s magnanimous vocals and a band behind him who are always as tight as nails, there seems no reason why they should not.  There is a need and a place for them, because feelgood indiepop never sounded so good in anyone else’s hands.  And you know that you can name at least four Shed 7 songs that you love…

Collen Chandler

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