Bassists rarely find themselves in the spotlight. Yet bass player Simon Jones, previously of The Verve, along with rhythm guitarist Simon Tong, of the same band, were the names responsible for drawing a sizeable crowd to The Shining’s set.
This was the chance for both Simons to shine and Jones has never looked so comfortable. First on stage, his address to the audience was met with genuine rapture. And if the perpetrators of the applause were expecting a reincarnation of The Verve, they won’t have been disappointed.
Front man Duncan Baxter not only has the same physical build as Richard Ashcroft, but also dresses like him, speaks like him and moves like him. In fact it has almost become obligatory for lead singers from the north of England to adopt ape-like dance moves, pout and yell “Come on!” at frequent intervals thanks to Liam, Ian, Tim et al. Considering that Baxter was born in 1979, it is obvious who his musical role models have been. His voice was strong but it lacked the raw emotion that his predecessor could achieve and without Ashcroft’s natural stage presence, Baxter appeared utterly contrived. No doubt comparisons to the former Verve frontman will grate on him but if he wasn’t trying so hard to fill the man’s shoes then these could be minimised.
Still, this is not Richard Ashcroft’s band – it was clearly Simon Jones leading the show. The bassist clearly felt he has a lot to prove with his new project and put in a performance of exuberance that was never witnessed in any Verve show. One of that band’s strengths was its rhythm section, an attribute that both Jones and Tong have transplanted into The Shining. Jones’ basslines give the music the depth and energy, which was at times reminiscent of the Verve prior to their commercial chart-vehicle Urban Hymns, suggesting where the musical differences that led to The Verve’s demise may have occurred.
Aside from the obvious Verve comparisons, shades of Led Zeppelin could also be detected in The Shining’s music, a sound which is very much in vogue at the moment with bands like The Music and The Bellrays also paying their dues to the 70s rockers. However the festival crowd didn’t let the music’s origins hinder their enjoyment of The Shining’s set and danced vigorously throughout despite hearing most of the material for the first time. This is not an achievement to be belittled for a Sunday afternoon set, billed against current dancefloor darlings Layo & Bushwacka!.
Regardless of putting in a solid and tight live show, endless and inevitable comparisons with the Verve may overshadow the band’s merits. Their set hinted at a wealth of strong and dynamic tunes worthy of a second chance and proved that the talent in the Verve did not begin and end with guitarist Nick McCabe and Richard Ashcroft. This is an exciting new band with a talented line-up, who don’t deserve to be weighed down with history.