If there’s one thing you can say about Sheppard it’s that they’re energetic. The Australian 6-piece were in London for one night only and gave a power-packed performance at Soho’s The Borderline to launch their album, “Bombs Away”.
Sheppard is composed of siblings George, Amy and Emma Sheppard, with Jay Bovino on rhythm guitar (Jay also co-writes with Amy and George), Michael Butler on lead guitar, and Dean Gordon on drums. George and Amy share vocals, with Amy doing percussion and harmonica, George on piano, and Emma on backing vocals and bass guitar. Initially formed in 2009, this current formation has been together since 2012.
Opening with “Hold My Tongue”, which was released in Australia in 2013, Sheppard let the audience know what we were going to be in for. An energetic song, it nonetheless has dark overtones, with lyrics such as,
“I’m hoping somebody’s gonna hold my tongue.
Oh yes I’m hoping somebody’s gonna hide my gun.”
More energy followed with “Smile”, which has just been unlocked on iTunes UK, and the theme continued with “Let Me Down Easy”. It has a very South Pacific feel to it, and I’m half inclined to think it’s a product of the Sheppard siblings’ childhood in New Guinea. Sheppard had the audience (by now filling the entire dance floor of The Borderline) clapping and singing along – it’s a rollocking sing-along tune which is still earworming with me this morning.
What struck us about Sheppard’s performance was just how much they held the audience in the palms of their collective hands. For most of us it was our first Sheppard gig (there were a handful who’d been to see the band a few times, one in the front row was their “first UK fan”), and yet we all got totally into the spirit of the evening with very little cajoling.
Sheppard took us through a total of 13 songs, including the powerfully percussive “Free” (it’s a beat-led song that lets Dean really show his stuff), the fun, if a bit naughty, “Find Someone”, and of course, the excellent “Geronimo”, which had the entire audience singing the chorus at the top of their lungs.
A brilliant night, finished with the moving, almost Gospel-style “Halfway to Hell”. The audience filed out exhausted, but happy. “Bombs Away” is out in the UK on 18 May and is available to preorder on iTunes and Amazon. Sheppard are continuing with their European tour: for details see their website.