Good Shoes - Harlow Square
It’s been over two years since Good Shoes released their debut album, Think Before You Speak, and they’ve certainly fallen into musical obscurity since then after a quiet 2008. With their brand of jaunty indie rock being utilised by the likes of Vampire Weekend, arguably to more success, you’d be forgiven for wondering whether the band had missed their chance back in 2007 when their upbeat tunes stood out from an overcrowded genre of indie rock perpetuated by those crafty Monkeys. However, tonight’s gig showed that Good Shoes are not giving up just yet and are ready to reclaim their crown of perkiest indie band around.
To say that going from headlining the 2,000 capacity Astoria in late 2007 to playing the approximately 150 capacity Harlow Square is a bit of a drop is an understatement, but Rhys Jones fully embraces the intimate setting throughout the set. From bantering with the crowd (such as laughing when the people at the front groan after getting soaked by something thrown from the wings) to crowd-surfing during ‘All In My Head’, Rhys is a magnetic presence throughout. He doesn’t even mind when he gets hit in the face with his own microphone stand after it’s knocked down by the rowdiest members of the crowd; he, along with the rest of the band, just seem happy to be playing to the fans again and realising that they haven’t been forgotten.
New tracks from their upcoming album, No Hope, No Future, are showcased throughout the set including the free download ‘The Way My Heart Beats’ and first single from the album, ‘Under Control’. It’s hard to fully judge them after one listen in a live setting but it seems that while the band haven’t exactly gone darker, as seems to be the default setting for any band’s second album these days, they have certainly added a meatier sound to the new tracks. However they are still definitively in the Good Shoes mould with each track containing at least one memorable hook even after just the first listen.
Nestled in amongst the new tracks were the established favourites from their debut album although the set was strangely deprived of ‘Never Meant To Hurt You’, conceivably their biggest hit to date. Each classic track was welcomed like an old friend by the energetic crowd with the biggest reactions being saved for ‘Small Town Girl’ and ‘Ice Age’. Following a one old-one new format for the majority of the set, while not exactly imaginative, worked effectively to ensure that there were none of the big lulls that can torment new album showcase gigs such as this.
The set came to a chaotic end as Rhys tried again to crowd-surf and perform which only led to the majority of the crowd invading the stage. Somewhere in the complete crowd carnage, Rhys’ microphone broke which led to the set closer ‘Morden’ turning into an instrumental as the rest of the band played gamely on, with various interludes of crowd singing into the on-stage microphones.
It was certainly an interesting and unique way to end the night but it’s this kind of playful exuberance that Good Shoes need as they try to break into the indie mainstream…again.
Images by Kirsty Day, who also has the other claim to fame of being the person who chucked the beer over the people at the front