Shame, HMLTD, Sorry: O2 Ritz, Manchester



As London punks Shame play a ‘really really good night’ at Manchester’s O2 Ritz Getintothis’ Lucy Mclachlan witnesses the band at full throttle.

From playing Buyers Club to around 30 people to selling out the O2 Ritz in less than a year is quite a feat.

London lads Shame are currently having an incredible year with their debut album Songs Of Praise released in January and rounding off 2018 with a Rough Trade album of the year.  They’ve toured the whole world and back.

Which brings them back to Manchester.  A place that’s always been good to them reckons singer Charlie Steen as he looms over the crowd at the edge of the stage.  Black sunglasses glaring in the harsh white lighting.  He’s become quite the showman and the audience are eating out of the palm of his hand from the very beginning.

But first, North London band Sorry start off a night billed by Shame on Twitter as going to be a ‘really really good night’. They’re the quieter band on the line up but their mix of 90s dream pop grunge is a sound we’ve grown to admire as they appear to endlessly tour around the country and pop up in a support slot quite regularly.

Next up is where the night really comes into its own and we highly suggest you get to see HMLTD live because it’s gonna be one of those performances that you can never un-see.  We admit to doing our homework before the show and were expecting the madness that followed, however we still managed to leave the set with a what-the-fuck-have-we-just-witnessed grin across our faces.

Singer Henry Spychalski is a nimble figure gyrating around in black leather assless chaps.  Its all disco lights and flashes, hard to keep track of his movements. Clothes are removed.  A song that sticks out is The Cramps sounding Death Drive, a 50’s rock n roll death disc but incredibly skewed.

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HMLTD might be tagged as post punk but every song is different, they are a twisted Depeche Mode, a more industrial Adam Ant, a circus tent melting in fire whilst lounge jazz plays on.  They are, dare we say it, Queen Zee on crack.

So back to Shame, appearing onstage to rapturous applause, Steen with oversized sunglasses and freshly dyed yellow hair looking a little like the ‘cool’ sunglasses smiley emoji…

By the time One Rizla comes around he’s already climbed into the crowd lost on a sea of hands only returning to the stage to peel his shirt off whilst belting out ‘I’m not much to look at, i ain’t much to hear’.

Compared to the sparse crowd we’ve seen before, Shame now have fans shouting ‘we love you’ and a huge pit circling the majority of the floor of the O2 for songs like Tastless and Lampoon. A lot can happen in 11 months.

New songs include Exhale appeared just as well received and sounded just as ferocious as any on Songs Of Praise.  Here’s hoping they won’t produce that let down 2nd album after all.

The band jumped around with constant energy as Steen can’t get away from crowd surfing in the audience, bass player Josh Finerty constantly ricocheting off the railings at each side of the stage.  The drum kit features a tin of Spam.

We’re really hoping they play the Theresa May-inspired Visa Vulture or their new cover of Rock Lobster that seems to have popped up on Spotify. That would top the night off.  But we can’t complain when not one tune was missed off Songs Of Praise.

The set ends with Gold Hole, the audience shouting along to the words,  Steen walks across palms letting fans sing into the mic as he goes along ‘Shake me up!’.

After a few seconds away, the band are back for more and launch into Concrete.  As the band leave the stage, Charlie Steen is left, arms out wide, drinking in the atmosphere bouncing off the walls as people chant ‘Shame‘.  It felt like a homecoming show for a band not even from Manchester.

With all the hype surrounding the band and their debut album it’s a wonder as to where they’re going to go from here.  Riding out with an album of the year and touring the world.  With new songs brewing and the possibility of a second album.  We’re wondering if they will be able to keep up the pace.

Images by Getintothis’ Lucy McLachlan