A Shining light or a mere flash in the pan?

Review by Heather Metherell

THE Shining, brainchild of ex-Verve members Simon Jones and Simon Tong, played to a packed venue at London's Mean Fiddler, on Thursday, October 10, in a gig that will probably have appealed to their fans, but which still left a little to be desired.

Formed two years after The Verve's highly-publicised split, the band is also comprised of drummer, Mark Heaney, guitarist, Dan Macbean and newcomer, Duncan Baxter, on vocals.

Boasting a heavy rock and blues-based sound, and citing influences such as Led Zeppelin and The Buzzcocks, there's nothing subtle about their approach to music; in fact, they burst forth with incredible energy, stirring a crowd of hopeful young rockers with a sound much livelier than the more orchestral Verve tracks.

The band has not escaped the influence of clubby dance music, either, with their driving beats and pulsating bass lines.

The Shining have picked the perfect time for their debut; when the pop music that forced rock and roll out of the charts is beginning to lose its sparkle, and British music is losing its reputation for quality song-writing and originality, the need for fresh new sounds has never been greater. So, just as we were starting to look elsewhere, a promising new band has emerged.

Lead singer, Baxter, bowled onto the stage with a swagger that Liam Gallagher would be proud of. His soaring and overpowering vocals totally dominated the first few tracks, including former single Quicksilver (the first track on the debut album, True Skies), while the other members faded into the background, allowing him to bathe in his newly found limelight.

I would be interested to see the band perform without the safety net that Baxter's bravado supplies, however, as the sound is more balanced when the vocals are lower, especially during tracks such as Crest Of An Ocean, where we are allowed a glimpse of what they could really achieve.

It's easy to be blown away by the sheer energy on show, the weight of raw musical talent and the dynamism of their cocky young singer, but it's a shame that these talented musicians, with so much experience and knowledge on their side, haven't managed to push the musical boundaries set by their predecessors.

Despite confident live performances, The Shining have chosen to tiptoe onto the music scene, in an almost apologetic way. Simon Jones seems overly wary of comparisons with The Verve, choosing to release their first single, Quicksilver, on limited 10" vinyl, and downplaying his past in a bid to make a fresh start - even though tracks such as Young Again, with lyrics such as 'And I know I can make it, just like I did before', perhaps provide the best insight into his aspirations.

That said, their music will undoubtedly appeal to all those rock and roll fans that have become disillusioned with the British music scene and hanker after the sounds of yesterday. They will find popularity, but I doubt whether their album will have any lasting effect, or influence, on the music industry.

RELATED LINKS: Click here for the band's official website...
Click here to buy the debut album, True Skies...
Click here to listen to the former single, Young Again, in our A/V Room...