Shack deserve considerably better than this, playing support to pop’s latest rich-boy charlatans (Habit) when the honours should be theirs. As insidiously memorable records go, Shack’s Zilch has few rivals this year, and it is ample testimony to the Head brothers’ aptitude for proud, melodic pop.
But live, they still fail to do themselves justice. As on their recent support slot with The Fall, Shack persist with no keyboards. This may stem from justified belief in the strength of their songs to stand up to their bare acoustic realisations, but when faced with a half-empty hall and rotten sound quality, such admirable puritanism is a wasted gesture. Hence Emergency and Someone’s Knocking translate as vaguely insubstantial live.
Only when John Head reaches for his Stratocaster in their cover of Love’s A House is not a Motel does any hint of Shack’s true power emerge.
Were this a performance from any other band still in their live infancy, I’d have been far less critical. New songs were aired and stood comfortably alongside their more familiar counterparts. But Shack must be judged on their achievements which are considerable indeed.
Let’s persevere, because the best is yet to come.