Nine becomes ten as I squeeze another gig into an already crowded Autumn schedule; a chance visit to Tim over the weekend (to give Tracey a story Logan wrote for and about her!) revealed his band The Shudders were due to emerge from their recent hiatus and return to gigging action for this show, one of a series of Acoustic Wednesdays currently being run by Swindon pub The Running Horse. Given their output to date is more to Rachel’s taste than mine, I expected her to go; however, she preferred a night in, so off I went instead!
So I drove along for 9 pm, wandering in and greeting Tim at the bar just as support The Cadbury Sisters (t’uh, what is it with girls and chocolate anyway?) were approaching the end of their set. A young all-girl trio, led by a tousled lead vocalist with an Irish lilt, they displayed some nice smooth intertwining harmonies, but for me were a little twee and thin in their hushed, Sundays-like material (hmm, there I go again, snap judgements after just hearing 2 numbers!). Still, seen far worse…
Tim then gathered the troops to set up, as we interested souls and assorted hangers-on sat gathered around, giving the bar performance space a living room ambiance. The Shudders eased into their set at 9.30 sharp with folky oldie “No Man’s Land”, Tim, Liam and vocalist Danny all perched atop unfeasibly tall barstools bashing away at acoustic guitars, and new drummer Jim seated and tapping away on a percussive box, similar to the one I accompanied Phil Hurley on, on our version of “Larry”, on our LA honeymoon! Tonight’s set ranged from a plaintive “Sunflower Blues”, which nevertheless saw Danny busting out a strident harmonica solo, the quiet Americana of new number “Sunrise”, via a jolly “Words Of A Fool” through to an almost Posies-like newie, “Sorry”, which featured a big chorus I’d now like to hear fully amped up, please!
15 months inactivity, a slew of new songs, and a brand new band member led, inevitably, to some bum notes as evidence of the lack of onstage practice (Danny also throwing his harmonica away in mock frustration after a trying solo during newie “Harvest Moon”!), but that was to be expected and easily forgiven. The positives were that the new numbers sounded very promising indeed (the aforementioned “Sorry” and a melodic “New Design”, which also featured some nice West Coast harmonies and cool guitar interplay), a mature progression for this fine band, and Jim seems already in sync with his bandmates and the material.
The final, hushed sea epic of “Mary’s Grace” closed things out, Danny’s understated vocals a feature. Chatted awhile with the boys afterwards, before heading off after a fine and entertaining evening.