Shopping, Cluny 2, Newcastle Upon Tyne, 2nd February 2018

Cluny 2 is an intimate and characterful venue converted from a theatre which was formerly a Victorian flax mill. Tonight it hosted three contrasting but complementary bands. Openers Swine Tax were playing on their home turf; they describe themselves as 90s inspired indie-rock chaos which seems an accurate description. Showcasing a mostly new and unrecorded set, they pushed the standard three piece instrument line-up in all sorts of directions, with singer/guitarist Vince Lisle fronting the songs with an energetic stage presence. They made a good noise, with recent single ‘Feels Like’ as a standout track.

Leeds quartet Milk Crimes are full of DIY-pop melancholy and desperation, set to a great wall of double guitar, punky bass and relentless drums underpinning plaintive vocals. In punk rock tradition it seemed a very short set, with riches including the opening salvo of ‘Hanging Out’ and ‘Deadtown’ and the frenetic bursts and quiet interludes in ‘Hail Seitan’. Hopefully they will have some new recorded material out soon.

Shopping have the simplest of sounds but it works brilliantly, live and on record. With many tracks from their newly released album ‘The Official Body’ (produced by indie legend Edwyn Collins!) their set was a spiky sounding masterclass in concise, message-carrying danceable pop. Their eternal triangle of staccato drums, single-line clear guitar figures and one of the sharpest bass sounds you will hear anywhere are topped off with call and response vocal interjections, often single words or phrases that say it all. ‘Why Wait’, ‘Discover’ (with a squelching synth bass line) and the changing tempo of ‘Control Yourself’ showed the band on top form with the audience under the spell. The final track was ‘Suddenly Gone’ and then they were…


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