Fifth Action Shelter – Live Review

Fifth Action Shelter
Sugarmill, Stoke-On-Trent
29/7/4

Of all the bands who have formed and played in Stoke over the last year or so, no one has had to endure the sort of pressure that Fifth Action Shelter have. Pulling themselsves out from under the reputation of their former band meant that their debut gig at the sugarmill was packed, almost to capacity, and there aren’t many bands who can lay claim to that, never mind face-up to it and take it head-on. But that’s what they did at the time and they’ve carried on without looking like it has unsettled them at all. They’ve been playing a steady stream of gigs at the sugarmill, and one at smaller local venue the glebe, since, and althought they haven’t quite managed the kind of crowd they had at their debut the results have been nothing to be ashamed of.

They’ve been compared to the heights of the britpop days when four-minute, guitar-pop tunes ruled the world, but to say that this sounds like anything that has gone before is neither fair nor accurate. Their were plenty of bands around in the mid-nineties who wrote shiny pop-tunes like this, but Fifth Action Shelter have none of the art-school affectation that seemed so modern at the time but looks so shabby in retrospect. Singer Ryan Dooley is everything Graham Coxon wishes he could be. Guitarist Saul Lovatt looks so relaxed on stage that he is almost lying down, at odds with the way he appeared on the cover of Agent Blue’s “Sex, Drugs and Rocks through your Window” single.

Their tunes are emotive and full of feeling but that doesn’t mean that Fifth Action Shelter wet the bed every night. For all the sentiment, they can write a tune as exhilarating as anything by the Pixies or the Cure but they don’t feel that they have to be oddballs to do it. Fifth Action Shelter do their job without feeling like they have to make excuses for themselves or anyone else.

Review submitted by Felix

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