Live Reviews

The Shins Live


The Swedish support band, Dungen, reminded me of a Jethro Tull / The Doors with a sprinkle of Jimmy on the guitar. Not that compartmentalising this band sells their talent, but to give you an idea of how unusual they were, it seems the only way. It is impossible to label them, other than to broaden it to surf rock. Bouncing between elevator music, up to the inclusion of a psychedelic flute! The crowd was…errr…stunned?

The lead guitarist, Neal Langford, does for The Shins, what Fat Mike does for Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. He even has the same curly, black afro. Neal Langford opens with the line “It doesn’t have to be a one night stand. It doesn’t have to end here. You can go buy our CD’s, our Merch, and we can build a relationship”. Their long tour has them rubbing their eyes, and yawning as tell-tale signs. But Neal is full of humour down to the last breath!

With loose rumours floating about from Neal, to be from Deep Mexico, there are a few chuckles, and a few very concerned looks in the crowd. It was a joke guys! – they reside in Portland, at least crack a smile…The closest they came to being from Mexico was recording the video for Saint Simon. James Mercer, the songwriter and singer behind it all, is surprisingly quiet. Giving only a few chuckles throughout the evening.

The first track has bassist, Dave Hernandez, on the floor for the slides in “Kissing The Lipless“. They drop in an early referral to playing “The Base of Spades“, which got the magic working, and the crowd cranking. Who would have thought a few old riffs would have melted the icy crowd, into a blazing sing along furnace.

One song missed the backing vocals, which didn’t infringe on it’s structural perfection. It still sounded great, as people just danced over it, without a care. They boast a new track which festively sings of “…not knowing the words”, which fits appropriately as they forget to tell us the name of the song…I still have no idea!

A few songs later, and they almost get swept into their own joke. They burst into ice-breaker “Base of Spades” (it’s safe to say they have coined that phrase!), playing a few riffs in full metal tribute stance, and dropping in their own words.

They dedicated themselves to a 2 hour set, filled with tracks like “New Slang” , “Fighting In A Sack” , “Caring is Creepy“, and ending with “Pink Bullets” (which was massively requested the entire evening!), and “So Says I“. I doubt James foresaw how big his garage side-project would get. Boasting tracks in movies: Sponge Bob Square Pants and, Garden State.

Neal ends with the statement “The Shins love you sensually”. Enough said. The crowd was all warmly loved up, and ready to hit the cold streets of London once more. If you didn’t get to see them, be sure to steal tickets to Leeds festival-cause they gonna be there!

Niki Kova’cs
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