Photo Credit: www.theshimmerband.com
On Thursday night, Bristol five-piece The Shimmer Band took stage between the bricks at Buyers Club. Self-described as an ‘explosive psychedelic rock band’, this set my imagination running wild in anticipation of the gig.
Upon entering the venue, the first aspect of the band’s performance I noticed was the execution of their psychedelic image. Visually, lights of blue and green combined with a faint smoke totalled an enveloping ethereal display, while flavoured use of reverb on the lead vocals and electric guitar complemented the psychedelia aura. Out of context, the whole experience wouldn’t be out of place in a fever dream.
Lead singer Tom Newman and guitarist Daniel ‘Babsy’ Barry stood out in their garish gold and silver jackets with Newman’s style invoking elements of Liam Gallagher’s over-the-top bravado with a matching haircut to boot. However, he honed his own brand of frontman braggadocio by also wearing oversized ski-goggle type sunglasses and the gold jacket which has become his trademark.
Newman proved himself further to be the director of the band’s performance during a performance of ‘Shadow of the Shake’ by at one point calling for a change in the lights, changing the backlights to be more hectic than those used in previous songs and moulding them well with the synths used, almost appearing ethereal. ‘Liverpool, what you saying?’ posed Newman at the song’s end.
Many of the tracks were heavy with a driving bass and lifting drums that were aimed to encourage an initially stiff audience. However, on playing ‘Sunkick’ – a track which skews toward the poppier end of The Shimmer Band’s take on psych-rock – the catchy chorus and blue-sky sound of the song warmed up the crowd nicely and the audience looked to be catching their rhythm more eagerly than before.
This was largely thanks to Newman’s prowess as a hype-man as he attended to both the crowd in-front and his fellow band members, crouching and leaning with the track to urge them on with broad, excited arm strokes almost like a conductor. In particular, he seemed to focus on drummer Willz Hatcher set up behind him on stage with Hatcher’s abilities as a rhythmist being essential to the cohesion of the band.
The definite highlight of the show was ‘Shoot Me (Baby)’ with its swirling guitar riffs, synths and reverbed vocals combined with a gutting bass serving as a perfect representation of how this marriage between pop-rock and psychedelia can come together. The track came at the perfect point in the night, as the crowd had picked up in the past half hour and more than a few hands flew up in the blue and green haze.
Between their current tour, attention from BBC Introducing, and playing festivals like Reading & Leeds, The Shimmer Band’s successes have been substantial. Expect to see them all over festival line-ups next summer and be sure to catch them if you can for great visuals and brilliant music. A band that can please rock fans at both ends of the spectrum, pop lovers and those with a slightly harder taste alike. A great display of psychedelic bravado.