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Review: shame @ SWX

shame return to Bristol for a visceral night off the back of their new record 'Food For Worms'.

By Jake Paterson, Co-Deputy Music Editor

shame are a band of contradictions. The lyrics on ‘6/1’ define their ethos best: “I hate myself and I love myself”. It’s this process of working themselves out at the extreme of both ends that sees heart-wrenching emotion and visceral rage come out from one song to the next.

Somehow sitting alongside the Speedy Wunderground crowd of black midi and Squid, yet having the lad-rock attitude of Sports Team and FEET, shame drew a diverse crowd off the back of their latest record Food For Worms. It’s been five years since their stellar debut Songs of Praise and having caught the band at Bristol’s Marble Factory in November 2021 I was keen to see how maturity has changed them.

In brief summary: it hasn’t.

shame live | Jake Paterson

Walking onstage to the opening theme to 2001: A Space Odyssey, the band were projecting themselves onto us as something cosmic and full of nostalgia. Lead singer Charlie Steen’s 60s Dylan-esque haircut enforced this, yet we were catapualted into the present within seconds.

Opening with tracks ‘Fingers of Steel’ and ‘Six Pack’ from the new record, Steen lasted about three minutes before throwing himself into the crowd; his satin aquamarine shirt lasted only a couple minutes more. Rolling through high octane new cuts like 'Alibis' and older hits 'Tasteless' and 'Nigel Hitter', the band were in full flow. Steen was an electric and dynamic conductor: setting the pace for everything unfolding on stage, down to getting the crowd to sing 'Happy Birthday' for a band member at his slower tempo.

shame live | Jake Paterson

Slowing the pace for the single 'Adderall' we had a moment's reprieve. Drenched in sweat everyone looked around at each other for a handful of seconds in disbelief of the show so far. Almost instinctually Steen then creates a circle in the crowd so large that people spill onto the stairs of the balcony with dads watching in relative peace.

Getting the crowd to run in a circle reminiscent of something straight out of a secondary school sports hall, Steen clambered over the railings and threw himself into the middle for the song 'Concrete'. Unity in the absurd was the tenet throughout the show; and Steen brought up the shows they've played in the UK so far to make it seem as if we had to compete for the band's attention and come out on top.

shame live | Jake Paterson

It certainly seemed like we gave it our best. Closing with the trio of 'Snow Day' (apt for the March snow we'd had in Bristol the day before), 'One Rizla' and the anthemic 'Angie' we were left in cathartic exhaustion.

Long live shame and may they return again very soon.

Featured Image: Jake Paterson

Have you listened to Food For Worms?