John Head - Deaf Institute, Manchester - 12.09.10


After over four drug taking years of obscurity which led to the devoted believing they had given up and retired some where with an on going supply of prescription pills Shack came back to a sea of raving reviews for their fourth LP H.M.S. Fable. Despite the obvious appreciate no to the joys of smack, the gentle beauty of it had me hooked after the first song Natalie’s Party. Just over ten years on I was hoping John Head had the ability to pull another bittersweet piece of story telling out of his trampy looking hat.


The first disappointment about this gig was that it would seem I was the only person in Manchester to remember Shack, let alone actually appreciate his past efforts. I had to search You Tube to check that they actually ever existed outside my gin filled imagination.


Support was provided by the saccharine soaked Valentines that oozed sickly sweetness that could illicit a toothache, this seemed an odd choice to support a man famed for melancholy and heroine. His softly edged vocals and tales of love in the face of adversity still lived on, but songs lacked any kind of distinctiveness, each song seemed to blur into the next giving the deaf. Stand out tracks such as “Comedy” and “Pull together just didn’t materialize. I found myself nodding along to their entirely inoffensive set wishing for some passion that never came. As the set continued I noticed the wine was disappearing quicker and I was longing for the days when I listened to H.M.S. Fable in my student halls of residence believing in the memorizing effect of Shack and that serious drug addition could lead to magnificence and not just bad teeth and skin.       

Words / Photos: Jo Lowes -



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