Brighton Beach Deck

It's easy to dismiss them as indie-armpit dullards with a knack for a decent tune and little else...

Bog roll. Potatoes. Pints. Shed Seven. None could be pretentious if they tried. There may be an element of cockiness in Rick Witter’s wriggly-arsed antics, but he knows in his heart that pioneers of sound Shed Seven are not. Tonight he appears tired, his face so passionless a tranquillized lion couldn’t look less expressive, and when he sings, “[I]It’s good to be alive[/I]”, he’s clearly not convinced. Perhaps he’s wondering, three albums into his career, whether if they were to vanish, Shed Seven would be missed.

Shed Seven have an almost endearingly straight-forward understanding of what a rock band should be. Always be catchy. Never be demanding. Guitars should be epic, basslines chunky. A singer must be skinny, have tattoos, and look like a simian Mick Jagger. In keeping, there’s the Stones on the warm-up tape, and the show opens with a Doors-like guitar solo from Paul Banks, sporting a Gallagher barnet.

There’s no nonsense allowed. References are obvious, sometimes – as in the blatant Blur rip-off that is ‘She Left Me On Friday’ – possibly illegal. And wee Witter, with dodgy Santana mullet, speaks only the truth. “This is our next song. It’s an old one,” he’ll say. Or, perhaps, “This one’s called ‘Mrmpph’,” when he’s feeling verbose. Only once does he succumb to the urge to editorialise, after ‘Around Your House’, when he utters, “Genius.” Ahem.

Still, although there is a great deal that’s stodgy and unimaginative even for a band who never set their sights terribly high (‘Let It Ride’, ‘Heroes’, ‘Out By My Side’), Shed Seven are capable of more than mere clumsy fumblings. ‘Chasing Rainbows’ is stupendously delicate, and when they hit a pretty hook, as in ‘Going For Gold’, it’s glorious. But it’s ‘On Standby’, where brilliance rears its head most poignantly.

Truly, Shed Seven breathe not the air of legend. It’s easy to dismiss them as indie-armpit dullards with a knack for a decent tune and little else. Yet a night like tonight makes you think: ‘What if Shed Seven had never been born? There’d be no ‘On Standby’. There’d be no ‘Chasing Rainbows’. There’d be no ready brunt for toilet jokes.’ Small things, maybe. But enough to make a difference, just the same.