live review ~ shark week ~ maddens, antrim & our 50th review

More than a year ago, when I was just beginning to delve into the world of local music journalism, I went to see a young band in a tiny venue in Antrim's high street, not knowing what to expect, nor how I would be able to describe it to an audience I couldn't be sure would even care about what I had to say. Months (and 49 live, EP and album reviews) later and Encore NI is going stronger than ever, as e continue to help promote as many promising local bands as possible. It's given me the chance to interview some of my favorite bands and even travel across to England and Scotland to record with companies as respected as the BBC. Which is why, as we approach our 50th official review, It's appropriate that I should find myself going full circle and ending up at the exact same pub to watch that very band. Their name was Shark Week and tonight they return with a new sound, a new line up and a new found determination to finally break their way in to the countries growing list of potential success stories...

As the opening bars to that iconic fast paced drum beat rang out, the fortunate punters in Maddens Bar last night seemed to immediately take notice, and with good reason too. For this was the long awaited return of local hero's 'Shark Week', once the regular house band that had the people of Antrim jumping at will and screaming with approval. After a long hiatus of constant writing, meticulous attention to detail and the small matter of a major line up change, the self proclaimed 'Shark Week mark ii' had a lot to prove and an even greater desire to do just that. This iconic drum beat was swiftly followed by the delicate precision of new member Kate Cannon's powerful bass line as the band re-entered their rightful spot as headliners with a cover of Joy Division's 'Disorder'. A bold choice by any means, but particularly for a band looking to re-establish themselves on a crowd that can be hostile at the best of times. This brave opener also seemed to signify a new found intent, as although the guitar still maintained it's trademark Hendrix styled tone and the thunderous drumming of Timmy Burns remained as energetic as ever, there was a certain calm and quiet sophistication to their sound that you can't quite imagine the Shark Week of old ever wanting to attain. They seemed more in control than ever before, a clever irony considering the very name of the song they were playing.

As the gig progressed as too did Shark Week's confidence, as the three piece started to really push their explosive elements to the limit. Covers of ‘Thee Oh Sees’, as well as startlingly arranged instrumentals provided a relaxed counter melody to the garage rock roots that still remain at the heart of Shark Week’s set up. One particularly seemed to mesmerize the audience, as front man Milo Dunn-Clarke demonstrated his incredible creativity by using a capo in the place of the usual bottle neck for an outstanding demonstration of slide guitar. After which he casually remarked, ’That’s what capos are really used for…’. Other originals, including the brilliantly titled ‘There’s A Cat In The Kitchen, How’d It Get There?’ gave off a distinctly Blur styled sound, as the mellow waves of intricate guitar riffs provided Dunn-Clarke's deadpan delivery the perfect back drop with which to really shout at the audience with as much passion as deemed necessary. One of the highlights of what was an enthralling set however, came in the form of the last song on the set. Perhaps as a final nod to the Shark Week of old, the band played out a note perfect cover of Rage Against The Machines ‘Bullet In The Head’. Sparking several members of the crowd into a miniature mosh pit, the pure energy of the song even saw one fan jump on stage, grabbing the mic to join Dunn-Clarke in a faultless duet of the songs angst filled, rapid rap verses.

As the band looked to leave the stage once more, the familiar cries of ‘One more tune!’ rang out, as they went straight into The White Stripes classic ‘Ball and Biscuit’. Again, it was of the quality of a band in the midst of a massive tour, with the energy of an opening night. Yet, this was in reality a band who had been off of the gigging circuit for much too long.

It could easily be argued that this was Shark Week picking up from where they left off all those months ago, I however, saw a band looking for reinvention, rather than a triumphant homecoming. The most impressive aspect of their set lies in the fact that anyone hoping for the psychedelic tinged band of old will not have gone home disappointed, and yet, the added sophistication of their new found sound has the appeal to capture a brand new audience in the process. Shark Week are finally out of transition and their future looks much stronger for it.

Taylor Johnson.

Stand out tracks; ‘There’s A Cat In The Kitchen’ / ‘Disorder (Joy Division cover) / ‘Bullet In The Head’ (Rage Against The Machine cover)

If You Like; Nirvana, Kings Of Leon (Aha Shake Heartbreak era), Pixies ~ You'll love Shark Week

Keep up to date with Shark Week on the links below…

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