Britpop’s answer to the Big Reunion rolls up in Sheffield at the weekend when two of the era’s biggest names take to the stage for a ‘pre-Christmas party’.
Yorkshire rockers Shed Seven are back with their greatest hits tour, with support from Mark Morriss, former frontman of Britpop favourites The Bluetones.
Rick Witter, Shed Seven lead singer, says: “We’ve still got it, so yeah, we’re gonna flaunt it.
“It’s a great time to play and, to be honest, December wouldn’t be the same without a Sheds gig would it?
It is the York quartet’s first full tour in two years – when they wowed 02 Academy in Sheffield. This year, the tour kicks off in Newcastle tomorrow and returns to the 02 Academy in Sheffield on Sunday.
Despite the lack of new releases, the band are happy to hit the road to perform their greatest hits – the Sheds enjoyed mainstream success with a string of top 20 hits in the 1990s, including Getting Better, Going For Gold, On Standby, Chasing Rainbows and She Left Me On Friday.
And he admits he was thrilled to be able to attract hundreds of people to a gig more than 10 years since the band last released a single. Rick, now aged 41, says: “The simple fact is there’s still a lot of interest in it.
“As far as we go, music is pretty much all I know, from being quite young, all the way through the ’90s.
“I have always written songs and performed them live. It’s easy for us now, there’s no pressure on us, apart from making sure we put on a good show. We know the people who come are going to know 14 or 15 of the songs.”
“People know what they’re going to get. It’s a chance for a little bit of nostalgia.” The nostalgia begins with an acoustic set by another Britpop icon in Mark Morriss, a favourite with Sheffield music fans.
Having sold out The Lantern Theatre in Nether Edge twice in the last 18 months, plus a hugely popular performance in the opulent surroundings of Sheffield Cathedral at the city’s Tramlines festival last year, Mark’s solo gigs are gaining an impressive reputation.
Rick says: “It’s a brilliant way of bringing the audience on. We’ve had similar support in the past with Chris Helm, former lead singer of The Seahorses, and the crowd were singing their hearts out to acoustic versions of the songs.
“We’re hoping Mark will have the same impact.”
And 42-year-old Mark is looking forward to reuniting with some old friends.
“The Bluetones supported Shed Seven very early on in our career, so it’s like going full circle,” he says. “We get on very well, they’re very nice people.”
With an extensive back catalogue, Mark expects to perform a different set each night, including songs from his new album A Flash of Darkness, due out early next year, as well as Bluetones classics, such as top-10 hits Slight Return, Cut Some Rug and Marblehead Johnson.
“I am going to gently introduce two or three new tunes and play some old favourites,” he says. “With it being Shed Seven’s Greatest Hits tour, it would be appropriate to play some old songs and I am proud of those songs.
“There are songs that are very old I have played thousands of times, but they still seem to give people pleasure and they still give me pleasure.
“I try to keep a good balance. I have got a big catalogue and people seem to like that. It’s going to be fun.”
Rick is also expecting to have lots of fun as the band return to a city they have graced many times over the years.
“We love playing Sheffield,” he says. “We’ve played pretty much every venue. The Leadmill is a great venue, there’s always a good atmosphere. The Academy is great.
“It’s a proper foot-sticking-to-the-floor venue – you can always tell if it’s a good venue if people are throwing their beer.
“People know about Shed Seven, they know exactly what they’re going to get, it’s a pre-Christmas party. People can come out, have a party and sing their hearts out.”