Review and photography by Gunnar Mallon
An evening of Britpop punk extravaganza came to the Picture House Social in Sheffield on Friday. The sell-out crowd was treated to a line up of three excellent acts, headlined by post-punk Cabbage from Manchester, who were supported by April and The Shimmer Band.
Being the first act on stage is never easy, and we have all witnessed warm-up acts playing to empty concert halls. This wasn’t the case for April, who played to a half full Picture House Social, with their infectious supercharged energy and fantastic heavy Britpop sound. It was clear that the five lads from Nuneaton enjoyed playing together as they lay down wonderfully crafted tracks. At times, I was taken back to the early 90s, but April were able to harness the soul of Britpop and bring it up to date with a heavier rock sound. Their sound and good vibes were highly entertaining and it won’t be long until they headline their own shows and play at large festivals.
Following April, The Shimmer Band, were next on stage. Compared to the heavier sounds of April, the five musicians from Bristol started off less energetic with a much slower and droning pop sound. Being more confident, to the point of misplaced cockiness, The Shimmer Band shone with their excellent musical abilities. With the venue filling up to three-quarter capacity, the crowd started to dance along to the thumping beats as the set wore on. Feeding of the growing crowd, the band picked up the intensity and energy of their set and ended on highly entertaining and creative heavy-Britpop punk vibes. The Shimmer Band were an excellent act to see live, with tracks to dance and move to, and are destined to dazzle crowds at festivals far and wide. Personally, I prefer their live sound to the studio album, but then again, there are few bands where this isn’t the case.
Support acts over, it was time for the main band and the now packed Picture House Social knew it. As soon as the Manchester-based post-punks Cabbage took to the stage it was clear that they were in different levels of intoxication, with singer Lee Broadbent nearly falling off the stage and into the crowd a few times, before destroying a mic stand with his on stage antics. Kicking off their idiosyncratic and rather chaotic set with an extended version of ‘Dissonance’ leading into ‘Indispensible Pencil’ from their new album ‘Young Dumb and Full of…’, the performance was a little muddled and Broadbent’s words were too slurred to fully appreciate. It took Cabbage the length of the first song to really get into the swing of things, but once they did, they were on top form!
The consequent hits ‘Terrorist Synthesiser’ and ‘Dinner Lady’, send the crowd wild, with a big mosh pit forming in the middle of the dance floor. Climbing down from the bass drum, where Broadbent seem to spend a fair chunk of the set, he promptly went on to spill his beer over the stage and guitarist Eoghan Clifford. Throughout the evening both roadies and security worked overtime keeping Broadbent upright and safe, such as preventing him from scaling an unstable stack of amplifiers – which was probably for the best.
Cabbage’s hits were now coming fast and furious with ‘Uber Capitalist Death Trade’, ‘Grim Up North Korea’, which was reminiscent of the Specials’ ‘Ghost Town’, and my personal favourite ‘Necroflat’ in the Palace, all to the delight of the enthusiastically moshing pan-generational crowd. Cabbage is made up of excellent musicians, especially drummer Asa Morley, and the extensive time put in working on their craft clearly showed on stage. The five musicians performed in perfect harmony with each other and all appeared to be on the same musical and anti-establishment page.
One of the more comical moments of the evening was when Broadbent tried to crowd-surf during ‘Gibraltar Ape’, but misjudged the density of the audience and was ultimately carried around by four fans, who eventually hoisted him up on their shoulders like at a very bizarre alcohol-fuelled wedding ceremony. Wrapping up proceedings with ‘Fickle’ and ‘Kevin’, the crowd went wild, security worked overtime keeping Broadbent from falling over, and everyone had an absolute blast. At this point a big shout out also goes to Tariq, who puts on the musical shows at the Picture House Social, for billing three excellent acts for a highly entertaining evening in what feels like a posh squat, and making sure that everyone had a brilliant time.
With the 45 minute-long set over, having mainly played songs from their new album and a few well-known hits, there was no encore; though Broadbent joked that they were off to the Rocking Chair for a DJ set. What the future holds for these guys is written in the stars. They clearly have the potential to keep doing what they love. Let’s just hope that they don’t plateau all too soon and stick together for us to enjoy for many years to come.