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Shame Concert Review: An Epic Return for The Rising Post-Punk Band

English punk band shame performs at The Sinclair. Left to right: Sean Coyle-Smith (guitarist), Charlie Forbes (on the drums), Josh Finery (bassist in the center) and Charlie Steen (vocalist on the right).
English punk band shame performs at The Sinclair. Left to right: Sean Coyle-Smith (guitarist), Charlie Forbes (on the drums), Josh Finery (bassist in the center) and Charlie Steen (vocalist on the right). By Anna Moiseieva
By Anna Moiseieva, Crimson Staff Writer

Eclectic and full of energy, South London band shame took the stage at The Sinclair on Sept. 7. Returning to North America for the first time in three years, the quintet was excited to perform live for Cambridge’s rock fans. Playing hits from their most recent album “Drunk Tank Pink,” along with several unreleased songs, shame showcased not only their musical breadth but also their lyrical depth while grappling with the anxieties of reality, performance, and finding a place in the world.

After returning home from several years of touring, the band had to transition to “normal life” and experienced internal turmoil that led to the creation of “Drunk Tank Pink,” lead vocalist Charlie Steen told GQ in 2021. Steen barricaded himself in “the womb,” a room painted the shade of pink used to calm drunk tank inmates, and refocused himself from partying to reflecting and making new music. shame’s choice to perform “Alphabet,” “Nigel Hitter,” and “Born in Luton” reflect this shift inwards in their music, becoming a surrealistic exploration of dreams, frustration, heartbreak, and confusion.

“Alphabet,” a track dissecting the dynamic between an entertainer and their audience, received a warm welcome from fans. Enthusiastic shouts of “Monkey see and monkey do” from the crowd were matched by vibrant lyrical responses from Steen. Confronting the absurdity and responsibility of people “waiting to feel good” from shame’s performances, “Alphabet” is a catchy exploration of an artist’s creative frustration. Depicting the cyclical nature of life, “Nigel Hitter” continues this trend by showcasing the ongoing repetitiveness of life, like a never-ending day.

Bassist Josh Finerty shines under the spotlight.
Bassist Josh Finerty shines under the spotlight. By Anna Moiseieva

“Born in Luton” continued this crisis of confusion, taking the mundane experience of a lockout and using it to illustrate being an outsider, working towards something you think will make you happy, but could actually hurt you. The slow tempo build-up in the backing guitars as Steen sang “I’ve been waiting outside for all of my life” let fans sit with the lyrics, creating a sense of catharsis before picking up speed again.

shame also showcased their unreleased song “Adderall.” Soft vocals accompanied mainly by the drums were a departure from the commotion of previous tracks, taking things slow and building contrast before returning to the full-bodied sound and vocal fry typical to shame’s music.

After previewing their upcoming releases, the band expressed how excited they were to be back in Boston. Recalling the last time they played in the city to a venue with no more than 20 people, shame was grateful for how much their fan base has grown and the heights they’ve reached, promising they’d be back soon. Steen got up close with the crowd towards the end, crossing the stage and holding his mic out, letting the audience sing with him.

Closing the show with songs “One Rizla” and “Snow Day,” shame kept spirits high. Evoking chants of “well if you think I love you, you’ve got the wrong idea” from fans, “One Rizla” set in motion a sense of confidence and resolution, ultimately achieved by the finale “Snow Day.” Centering the idea of natural beauty that is often overlooked, “Snow Day” took a step back from constant ambition. Accepting the excitement of the unknown, the song ended with a fast-paced instrumental working in tandem with the outro lyrics to paint the picture of a thrilling future ahead.

Shame’s return to the stage was one full of passion and zeal. With songs tackling existential questions and occasionally venturing outside the post-punk genre, the band surely has a promising future ahead.

—Staff writer Anna Moiseieva can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @AMoiseieva.

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