Having given it a couple of months to ferment on the internet, Shame are releasing the audio from their performance film ‘Live in the Flesh’ for Record Store Day (albeit that you can stream it now). The vinyl will be available on 12 June, if you can find it. You can also catch them on UK tour in late May/early June, socially distanced of course.
If you’ve not seen the film yet (see below), my advice is to skip straight to the songs. And that is presumably one advantage that the LP will have over the video – no intro. I can only assume everyone involved in the opening minutes had a good laugh in recording; that would just about excuse them having been committed to film. Fortunately, the ‘concert’ that follows is everything that the opening isn’t – it’s real, it’s powerful and it’s compelling.
Sure, there’s some artifice in here, even while they’re playing: I can’t find the same liberal application of oil to Charlie Steen’s torso in other live footage available on internet-based streaming video services. And the fake crowd noise and clapping reminds us periodically about the ‘gag’ underneath. But you can easily forget about all of that and get absorbed by the show.
Seven of the tracks from this year’s ‘Drunk Tank Pink’ get an airing here but, sadly for this reviewer, not my favourite, ‘Station Wagon’. As it is, it probably would have sat oddly within the film – the pace and the volume and the energy and the physicality are relentless. Charlie Steen draws the eye – one knee up on the monitors, bending down to the unseen crowd; jerking and gesturing and dancing when upright. Bassist Josh Finerty is irresistible – everything he plays gets you right down at your feet and makes you want to move. He’s as unable to hold back as we are – he reminds me of a young Peter Buck, taken away by his own playing and called to augment his strumming with swoops, thrusts, and spins. And at the heart of it all – something I always swoon to see – a drummer insouciantly keeping it all beautifully together at the back, while effortlessly throwing out embellishments (look at 6/1 for some of Charlie Forbes’ best work).
For all that, I can’t help the feeling that once this is actually made flesh as it were, once this is vinylised, you’ll be wishing for spatters of oil and sweat to be metaphorically hitting you in the face as the band give it that maniac delivery. It’s never quite the same once it has been sealed. Buy the vinyl, by all means, but head out for the real deal, too.