The Shop Window
33 Oldham Street, Manchester
19th March 2022
The Shop Window make their first trip to Manchester after releasing their debut album in 2021
Way back on 11th June 2021 I was sent a link to an album by Louder Than War editor Nathan Whittle asking if I’d be interested in reviewing it. What sold me, before I’d even heard it, was the promise of an indie pop/jangly guitar band with lush harmonies; and links to Sleeper and Kylie. After reviewing the debut album, The State Of Being Human, and the subsequent singles, The Shop Window have been a band at the top of my ‘must see live’ bucket list.
Tonight it finally happened, with front men Carl Mann and Simon ‘Syd’ Oxlee back on a Manchester stage together for the first time in 25 years. The quintet are completed by Martin Corder (bass) and Phil Elphee (drums) with recent recruit Paul Reeves on guitar. It’s common knowledge that social media’s algorithms link you into like-minded individuals, and The Shop Window have used that to their advantage, as part of a strong community of artists who aren’t on major labels but support and encourage each other as well as interacting directly with their fans. Carl knowingly comments on how many people he recognises from their Twitter profiles before the band kick off their 10-song set off with a couple of early singles, Mannequin Lies and Evacuate, ahead of current single Lighthouse.
For obvious reasons, the band haven’t had much opportunity to play live since the release of the album. Despite all being very accomplished musicians it does feel initially like they are trying to find their feet, but as they work through Flags and Ride It there appears to be more confidence, things click and the harmonies especially become more pronounced. Following this, we are treated to the first of two new songs, Circles Go Round, destined for the recently recorded second album. Watching new guitarist Paul during this track I think he’s definitely a fan of Johnny Marr; there is a Smiths feel to the piece in general which he plays almost nonchalantly. (There is actually a moment which takes me to the TOTP performance of Sheila Take A Bow but maybe that’s just me.)
Previous single Sad Eyes positively shimmers, and the psychedelically tinged Lay Of The Land takes on a whole new lease of life in a live environment with its Pictures Of Matchstick Men-inspired riff. Whilst enjoying the single version, there were other songs I had been looking forward to hearing live, as it happens this ended up being my highlight of the night. The second new song of the evening, Eyes Wide Shut, fits comfortably alongside the previously released material before the set closes with a celebratory take on favourite Out Of Reach, with the partisan crowd singing, dancing, or in my case shuffling slightly.
Tonight really doesn’t disappoint and has been worth the wait. I do hope the next time The Show Window come to town they’re able to play to a larger audience in a larger venue (Deaf Institute?) as they really do deserve it.