O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London
On a cold March evening it seems half the country’s Indie/Punk/Fraggle “fraternity” have made a beeline; one way or another, to Shepherds Bush Empire for a night of nostalgia. Senseless Things are in town and back together once again for a rare gig which many have made a pilgrimage for the “returning heroes”. On the back of a secret gig and a well-attended “warm-up” show in Hull, this is the main event.
Doors open promptly at 7 and by 7.25pm openers “The Tuts” take to the stage. A good early showing of punters give them a warm welcome. This London-based all girl Indie/Punk trio set their stall out early with some cracking tunes. They are both competent and energetic and have come some way since I last saw them at Rebellion 2016. Main vocalist Nadia’s (guitar/vox) vocal is soft in places and harder at other intervals. Bev (drums) has also upped her game and really letís loose throughout, while Harriet’s (bass/vox) bass is powerful and heavy in the main. I won’t profess to recognising any of their songs, but their energy and showwomanship is truly infectious. Their brand of Poppy/Indie/Punk reminds me; albeit briefly, of “Shampoo”, while the mellower songs take influence from the likes of Darling Buds and countless other luminaries of that era. Amidst their jangly pop the middle 8’s in places have a very slight Reggae feel, but one could pull any number of influences from their output. All in all a great set from an immaculately attired young trio who I’m sure will have garnered a few more fans tonight. With a Summer Tour fast approaching this is their time-I hope they reach the wider audience they deserve.
A 15-minute interlude gives time for the next band to set up. With little fuss and after “teching” their own instruments, “Skinny Girl Diet” return to the stage and bludgeon the senses with a blistering assault of the eardrums. They are heavy and loud, creating a wall of sound virtually from the outset. They open with an instrumental that borders on Shoegaze, then give the “Mary Chain” a run for their money with some feedback-drenched Riot Grrrl/Grunge that pulls no punches! “D” (guitar/vox) shoegazes almost the entire set when not frowning through her vocal delivery. “U” (drums/vox) is the powerhouse behind her, keeping to a phrenetic beat-imagine an L7/JAMC mash-up and you’re still only half-way there. “A” (bass/vox) has a unique style; also set to shoegazing, occasionally looking up to deliver a deafening scream on one of their songs. Her attire is unfussy, unlike “D” who is resplendent in a glitzy blue number. Lyrically their set is largely unintelligible, though I’m guessing this is deliberate. They certainly make a statement with the music – I just feel a little more polish; especially in the vocal, might just elevate them to greater heights. They’re treading a well-trodden path and I feel need to make themselves stand out from the crowd more if they are to scale the heights. That said, I enjoyed the vast majority of their set.
And so to the main event. When this show was announced earlier this year the facebook page went into overdrive just at the suggestion of a one-off ‘reunion’ gig, such is the love for this band after all these years. So; when the official date was announced, fans snapped up their tickets early for what promised to be quite a show. I must admit, I initially baulked at the price; but as the weeks passed & the day got nearer I just knew I’d be there one way or another. Looking back I’m glad I did.
A near-full capacity of old school Indie T-shirts and “Pop Kid” T’s greet the band as they stride onstage, one by one. Loud cheers greet set opener “Everybody’s Gone” and the pit simply erupts. Anyone expecting a singles or best-of set would’ve been disappointed. Careful consideration has gone into tonight’s set-List, pulling songs from throughout the back catalogue. “Come Together” keeps this raucous crowd at it as they jump around like it’s the early 90’s again. Brief respite is taken during “Girlfriend” before the ever popular “Is It Too Late”, replete with Morgan’s crushing bass. The tempo is taken down somewhat during “Ex-Teenager” where we catch our respective breaths. The band have pulled out all the stops with the graphics on the stage behind them, with cover art and various shots from throughout their career both on and off the road. They also haven’t been shy in adding B-sides to their set.
“16, 18, 21” sets us up nicely for the another big single; this time in the shape of “Got It At The Delmar” which is energetic both offstage and on. Having seen footage from the recent Hull warm-up I was particularly looking forward to ‘Shoplifting’ which didn’t disappoint. Despite an early glitch with Ben’s guitar they ferociously run through it in less than 90 seconds! Having only found out on the day it’s a Slits song one wonders what they would make of it? I think they do it justice! “Easy to Smile” is simply unforgettable as the band really start to hit their stride and relax somewhat. Mark (Keds) vocal is much stronger than I was expecting and he still has decent range, ably assisted by Ben (guitar/vox) on additional vocals. Cass (drums) is his usual powerhouse at the back, keeping the beat. ‘Touch Me on the Heath’ is immense, as this crowd once again respond in unison.
Mid-set Mark proclaims “Postcard CV was the best album wasn’t it? Certainly my favourite”! And who are we to disagree?! “Back to Nowhere” and “Teenage” are played back to back keeping with the early career pace. Ben really shows off his repertoire on the guitar during the latter. “Watching The Pictures Go” is heavy and brooding, whipping up this now delighted audience ready for the two big hitters to close the main set. Who can forget their famous performance on “The Word” all those years ago performing “Hold It Down” – well tonight is no different, just more euphoric as half the room seems to be jumping as one. We barely catch our breath as they launch into “Homophobic Asshole”, complete with Ben’s (tongue-in-cheek) introduction; “You Want, You Want It?” – cue sensible accent – “Fucking Have It”!! Cue mental mosh pit! Considering the average age in the room must be 45, there is an abundance of raw energy on show.
The band depart for no more than five minutes; then return with three more songs, beginning with current single “Lost Honey”. The song is being sold on the night as a double sided 7″ coloured vinyl, staying faithful to their original output no doubt. A brilliant “Tangled Lines” takes us through to their final song, the quite excellent “Too Much Kissing”. Before thanking us all for coming Keds invites all comers onto the stage with a clear “why not come join us, there’s plenty of room”! One punter has no trouble making it before the security start to panic. A few more bravely make it-cue crowd surfing and stage diving! And that quite simply is that. Ninety minutes of pure nostalgia and most punters will leave happy. Ben appears truly humbled when thanking every corner of the Empire while Mark simply salutes us. Cass jumps down from the riser and joins Morgan as they depart for the last time (tonight)! I witnessed so much love for the band in the room this evening, clearly itís been too long. If they never play another show then those of us who made the effort will store the memories. And while the punters countrywide will clamour for a UK Tour/sporadic dates, Senseless Things leave us in no doubt that there may just be more in the tank. Only time will tell but as a one-off show, tonight was near faultless.
Is It Too Late
Andi in a Karmann
Got It at the Delmar
Can’t Do Anything
Shoplifting (The Slits cover)
Easy to Smile
Touch Me on the Heath
Back To Nowhere
Watching the Pictures Go
Hold It Down (with Jerome Alexandre from Deadcuts)
Too Much Kissing
Words by Ross A. Ferrone
Pictures & Videos by Dave Chinery (Chinners)
Ligging Courtesy of Pete Cole (Celebrity Megastar) ” It was Ian Broudie; not Ringo Starr, what a mistake to make”