Shack – Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London

There are few bands, it seems, as disaster-prone as Shack. Ravaged by narcotics, crippled by debt (the sleevenotes to their third album HMS Fable infamously thanked Cash Converters) and nearly torpedoed by missing master tapes and missed opportunities, this Liverpool outfit clearly monopolise the anti-Midas touch. Matters were not helped three years ago when London Records pulled the contractual plug as well.

Trending Now

Pete Townshend looks back at The Who in 1967: “I don’t think I was angry”

Smashing guitars, hanging out with Small Faces and keeping Keith Moon onside

Mogwai: Album By Album

Founded in 1995 and initially a trio, Glasgow’s Mogwai made their debut with “Tuner/Lower”, a self-pressed seven-inch in thrall...

Introducing the new issue of Uncut

GETTING YOUR COPY OF THIS MONTH'S UNCUT DELIVERED STRAIGHT TO YOUR DOOR IS EASY AND HASSLE FREE - CLICK...

Introducing the Deluxe Ultimate Music Guide to Bob Marley

In-depths reviews and archive encounters with the reggae legend

There are few bands, it seems, as disaster-prone as Shack. Ravaged by narcotics, crippled by debt (the sleevenotes to their third album HMS Fable infamously thanked Cash Converters) and nearly torpedoed by missing master tapes and missed opportunities, this Liverpool outfit clearly monopolise the anti-Midas touch. Matters were not helped three years ago when London Records pulled the contractual plug as well. Miraculously, however, this is one armour denting that has proved hugely beneficial.

London’s expensively piloted HMS Fable (1999), while boasting a clutch of tremendous songs, over-egged Shack into clunky, bad Oasis territory. Frequent comparisons with Arthur Lee?Shack were briefly his backing band in the mid-’90s?seemed slightly fanciful. But all that’s changed with their low-key fourth album, Here’s Tom With The Weather. Reunited with Helen Caddick, who furnished their The Magical World Of The Strands with lush serenity, the Head bros have rediscovered their lulling qualities.

It hasn’t gone unnoticed, either. Every morsel from Here’s Tom With The Weather is eagerly snapped up at tonight’s Uncut-supported show. “As Long As I’ve Got You”, that album’s burbling opener, sets the hallucinatory tone. Redolent of Simon & Garfunkel wearing trainers, its bouncing lullaby immediately shows the Mersey new breed how to do cosmic scouse. Liverpool’s maritime atmospherics can be heard from The Bunnymen to The La’s to The Coral. But nobody quite captures that salt air melancholy as potently as Shack?and they demonstrate this perfectly on “The Girl With The Long Brown Hair”.

Shack are dewy-eyed romantics and, judging by tonight, so are their audience, who are as unobtrusive as the skeletal rustle and low-key intensity of much of the band’s material. At the same time, Shack’s grasp of pile-driving, Lovestyle crescendos can be surprisingly forceful. On “Meant To Be”, the velocity of swashbuckling drums and mariachi trumpets is so frenetic it provokes booming applause mid-song. Still, it’s not always so sublime. Despite a spooky Eastern motif, “Soldier Man” is a trudge and the barrel-chested anthemics of “Pull Together” are as incongruous as they are unconvincing.

But these are minor criticisms. For the most part, Shack’s hazy, psychedelic folk resounds with luminous splendour. Liberated from grand expectations and no longer hostage to misfortune, Shack’s considerable talent can finally blossom. The hunched stroll into Cash Converters may soon be over.

Advertisement

Latest Issue

The Who, New York Dolls, Fugazi, Peggy Seeger, Scritti Politti, Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye, Serge Gainsbourg, Israel Nash and Valerie June
Advertisement

Features

Advertisement