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Reviews / Ryder in good spirits and rude health

A swaggering Shaun Ryder on stage at Mareel on Saturday night. Photo: Dale Smith

SHAUN Ryder finally made it to Shetland on Saturday and he put on a great show with his band Black Grape at Mareel, writes Kennedy Stewart.

Having had to cancel two scheduled Lerwick performances previously, Ryder arrived in good spirits and rude health this time around.

He looks and sounds sharp at Mareel, a far cry from the man with form for giving shambolic, drugged up performances where he has had to rely on an autocue to deliver his own lyrics.

He is now leading a clean life and from the moment he comes on stage to the opening harmonica riff of In the Name of the Father it is clear Ryder, vocal partner Kermit and the rest of the band mean business.

The 200 or so strong audience, having been warmed up by a limb loosening set from Subtronic DJ Saul Day, are clearly out for a good time, stomping around from the off and throwing all sorts of strange and wonderful shapes during the band’s second number Tamazi Party.

The group then slow things down with Get Higher before returning to full throttle with an excellent version of The Reverend Black Grape, which includes a detour into The Rolling Stones classic Sympathy for the Devil – the crowd “whoo wooing” along in delight as the musicians launch into the first of several lengthy instrumentals.

The Black Grape show was third time lucky for promoter Alan McLeod after previous efforts to bring Ryder north were thwarted, and the 200+ crowd got the good time they were hoping for. Photo: Dale Smith

The band rely on a host of samples and overdubs throughout to cover a number of parts that can’t possibly be filled by this minimalist version of the group. The sound is as full as ever but this is a noticeably more rockier and less funkier incarnation of Black Grape.

Ryder introduces Yeah Yeah Brother with a playful dig at his sibling and Happy Mondays bandmate Paul Ryder, before the band get the Mareel crowd bouncing with Tell Me Something.

A Big Day In The North is next and Ryder acknowledges where he is by observing, “You can’t really get much further north than this.” The group then draw their set to a close with Shake Well Before Opening, a dreamy number that is one of the musical highlights of the night.

The crowd want more and it isn’t long before Black Grape are back on stage with a three song encore. Kelly’s Heroes sees Kermit and Ryder playing off each other expertly as they put down those who would make false idols of men.

The less well known Rubber Band follows and the band round things off with a booming version of Little Bob, leaving everyone satisfied they got the good time they came for.

The absence of any new material from the band is the one disappointment of an entertaining night. Perhaps Ryder needs the drugs to deliver that?

It may have taken a few attempts and much persistence from Klub Revolution promoter Alan McLeod to get Shaun Ryder here, but in the end it was worth the wait.

Kennedy Stewart

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