It’s a knowing wink to the fact York’s most famous musical sons have turned up for their biennial winter jaunt around the country with their first material in 16 years.
For a group who never scaled the peak of Britpop heights in the manner of some of their contemporaries, their reformation as a live powerhouse over the past decade has arguably brought them to a commercial all-time high; new record Instant Pleasures went straight into the top ten last month, and they play the biggest headline show of their career next summer at Manchester’s 8,000-capacity Castlefield Bowl. As Indian summers go, few other Nineties stalwarts can match that.
In what is mostly a hits affair, the band do dabble with Instant Pleasures; entering to the strains of the theme from The Magnificent Seven, with Christmas lights draped over amp stacks and the drum riser, they crash straight into the swaggering Room in My House, replete with lusty singalong chorus, and later shamelessly retool the Nolan Sisters’ In the Mood for Dancing into the giddy glam of People Will Talk.
The fact that both inspire as boisterous reactions as the kitchen-sink drama-chords of Speakeasy and the beefy, brassy Where Have You Been Tonight? cheers Witter to no end; by High Hopes, he is already delivering brazen innuendos to the front row, whilst On Standby sees him display his raconteur chops as he verbally jostles with the crowd’s inability to time their call-and-response, much to his own faux-frustration and amusement.
He – and the band – know and play their audience well; the baggy bounce of She Left Me on Friday features a coda cribbed from The Stone Roses’ I Am the Resurrection, whilst the oddly post-Britpop epic bent of Better Days is immediately followed by a piledriving one-two-three punch of Disco Down, Bully Boy and Going for Gold.
By the time they’ve capped off the night with the seminal, soaring Chasing Rainbows, Leeds is in full, hoarse, bellowing voice, Witter’s grin rendered megawatt as he holds out his microphone.
On the evidence here, don’t expect The Sheds to head for the sheds anytime soon; they’ve got plenty left inside.