Listen to Shame’s debut album and it’s clear their music’s important in 2018. Packed with tongue-in-cheek everyday protest songs of anthem proportions, their roots lie in The Clash, Palma Violets and Slaves. Live though they’re an addictive concoction of late night wedding karaoke and Vic ’n’ Bob’s ‘Shooting Stars’.
Lead singer Charlie Steen swamps the stage donning cowboy hat, goggles and a boiler suit as strobes lash out over the intro of ‘Dust’; the near-fancy dress attire giving no indication this will be a phones in the air, arms round each other sing-a-long. “We’re a Christian rock band, we play each city and try and spread the word of Jesus Christ, cos he’s the only God” he says, teetering between bravado and ignorance, yet all works as part of the Shame act and charm. In come singles ’Concrete’ and ‘One Rizla’ which elevate Shame to 90s rockstar persona, Steen leaning into the mic Liam Gallagher style while gory story ’Lick’ sticks to the walls that bassist Josh Finerty flings himself between. He’s far from your laidback, on-the-spot rhythmic band member.
Then they turn it up a notch on the silly scale. Steen offers the mic out to the crowd for the most blood-curdingly karaoke rendition of ‘Tasteless’. ‘Friction’ sees him turn into your Uncle with the dodgy dance moves at a wedding but sweatier and with less clothes on. A rare breather comes in the form of a softer new untitled song that’s been in their set for the past six months, and ‘Angie’, Steen gracefully swinging back and forth and thrusting his arms towards the crowd as if to give them one final blessing. Perhaps the Christian rock band wasn’t such a joke after all.