Seeing Shed 7 has become as big a part of Christmas as turkey and sprouts. Every second year the boys take their show out on the road, and treat us to a set full of their greatest hits. We caught them at Sheffield and again at Leeds for the final night of the tour.  (All photos from Leeds – see lower down for full galleries)

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SHEFFIELD. (words – Kevin Paterson)

The boys are back in 2015, this time with indie legends Inspiral Carpets in tow. After featuring The Bluetones frontman Mark Morriss as support last time around, it looked like it would be hard to beat. But with the announcement of the Manchester crew as support,  there was a real buzz this time around. That buzz was still present at the Sheffield 02 on Friday night. Initially I was confused as to why the Inspirals were being boo’d by the crowd. But at a further listen I realised they weren’t boo-ing, but moo-ing. That seemed to make more sense. In onerror of those rare occasions, the support seemed to create as much excitement as the main event. They plowed their way through a plethora of huge nineties indie anthems such as ‘This Is How It Feels’, ‘She Comes In The Fall’, and ‘Dragging Me down’. The sound of Mark E. Smith’s vocals (from the speakers, not in person, obviously) let the room know that ‘I Want You’ was about to drop. The set finished, as expected, with ‘Saturn 5’. The crowd was well and truly warmed up.

But of course, the band we were there for were Shed 7. Rick Witter is a force of nature as ever. In his forties now, he still has the energy and the hunger he did when the band were new on the scene (and still rocks a pair of skinny jeans as well too). The band were backed up with a brass section, who came on for several of those big indie anthems. The set list had been mixed up, this time kicking off with ‘She Left Me On Friday’. It was great to hear ‘Casino Girl’ again from their ’94 debut ‘Change Giver’. Witter’s banter and interactions with the crowd are one OF his strengths. There is always a lot of love in the room for it, which he clearly gets a buzz from. No doubt the same crowd come year after year (me included), all a couple of years older than the last time.

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The mosh pit was as crazy as ever for those who dared to find themselves at the front. Each song was echoed back by the crowd (sometimes even before Witter had chance to sing the words). ‘On Standby’ didn’t need an introduction. It only took one strum of a guitar to get the crowd singing along. Whilst ‘Disco Down’ was as popular as ever, and had everyone throwing themselves around. My eye was constantly drawn to the young bassist throughout, who I’m guessing wasn’t old enough to play during the band’s original day. All the band come across as regular, likeable lads. Their love of performing is clear, and the same songs played each time they play remain fun and interesting. That’s what comes of watching a band who clearly want to be there.

The encore brought the show to an end with the song that everyone wants to hear, ‘Chasing Rainbows’. Always a crowd pleaser. I was glad as always to have seen the show and sing along to all the classics (my voice was, as ever, horse the next day). See you in two years, boys.

LEEDS  22-12-2015  (words: stAn. photos: stAn )

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Tree up? Check. Turkey ordered? Check. Presents wrapped? Check. Shed Seven tickets? Check. Let the Christmas festivities begin.

The festive season is stooped in tradition. A combination of old winter feasts, Christian beliefs and of course the bi-annual Shed Seven December tour, this year with the added bonus of having Mancunian favourites The Inspiral Carpets in tow – it was gonna be a cracker!

Don’t get me wrong, there’s not much really wrong with tonight’s venue, but I personally feel it’s a bit barn like, especially when all around you comes the sound of mooing. Of course it’s not cattle lowing; it’s the Boon Army heralding the arrival of The Inspiral Carpets.

With the distinctive sound of Clint’s Farfisa leading them on, The Carpets romp through 11 of their best known numbers, all are obvious crowd pleasers, and all are received with equal fervour from the crowd. If I had to pick one, it would be tainted by my rather unhealthy obsession with The Fall, but ‘I Want You’ is superb.

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Part way through the set Mr Boon calls a young man on to stage. Turns out its Rick Witters son. They did ask his dad but he wanted paying. “Are you gonna be a rock star like your dad when you grow up?” – “Nah! Probably not.” Is the initial response, but after a quick word in his ear from Uncle Clint we get a full on “Too fuckin’ right I am!” It’s a nice touch, and along with the tunes, shows that after all these years The Carpets are still ‘cool as fuck!’

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(– see below for full gallery of Inspiral Carpet pics)

The Shed’s take their positions on stage to rapturous applause, and kick off the final night of the tour. Moments later, the applause gets louder, pint pots, of what I hope is overpriced crap lager, fly through the air accompanied by the audible twang of knicker elastic snapping from all areas of the arena as Shed Seven’s sexy little Northern monkey ,Rick Witter, writhes his way centre stage to tell us how she left him on Friday.

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For the next hour or so we are treated to a sing-along-a-Witter set of all the favourites. No surprises, no new numbers, just the same tried and tested formula from previous years. And that’s the beauty of it – you know what you’re letting yourself in for, you know you’re guaranteed a good time and you know you’re gonna be able to sing your little lungs out to each and every song.

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Witter might be the main focus of, especially female, attention for the crowd as he gyrates his way round the stage, but when he leaves to let his band play out the end of Dolphin without him we are reminded just how good they actually are, and all eyes are on them. Paul Banks goes into over drive and could quite easily have laid claim to be the best guitarist from the era. Not to be out done, Tom, and Joe hit top gear alongside him and, with the backing of Alan on drums, vie for the centre stage spot. Forget the bullshit comments that blighted them years ago. Right here, right now, in front of a sold out arena, they’re unbelievable.

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As always Rick is full of banter and swagger. Spotting a youngster in the audience he makes his way to the edge of the stage to speak to Sam who’s 12. “What’s your favourite?” he’s asked, “Happy Mondays”. Witter quickly steers him back on track and Sam replies “Going for Gold.” As Rick points out, that’s the legacy right there “if we’ve got 12 year olds coming we’ll be doing this forever!”

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For the encore and close it can only be one song – ‘Chasing Rainbows’. Joined on stage by his little girl, Rick is happy to let the crowd take over on vocals as the stage explodes and ticker tape fills the air. It’s a spectacular end. But it wouldn’t be complete without the finale. No drum roll, just a rolling drummer as Alan performs his signature front flip over the drums to bring an end to a truly top night out. It might only be every other year, but for us and many more, seeing Shed Seven has become as much a part of Christmas as a cold turkey and stuffing sandwich.

GALLERIESclick on any pic to see full screen.

Inspiral Carpets

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Shed Seven

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