Sheppard at the BorderlineCultureMusicLive music
It’s often espoused by pop theorists that certain parts of the world excel at producing certain kinds of bands. Sunlight-starved parts of Norway and Finland have a knack for producing doomy goth metal outfits such as Nightwish, while former factory towns in northern England are famous for eloquently brutal social commentators like Pulp. Australia, a land that according to certain TV shows is populated almost entirely by bronzed surfer dudes and lovable kangaroos, is adept at birthing sunny, chirpy pop. For Sheppard, the Brisbanian sextet fronted by perma-smiley George Sheppard and his mermaid-haired sister Amy, chirpiness is their stock in trade.
“Let’s see some hands!” yells George during the first song. “Wow, you guys are awesome, Thank you so much!” George yells, after every song. The band are keen to let you know they’re having fun, and even keener to make sure everyone else is too. Though they nod to various styles – acoustic folk on These People, soul on Shine My Way, even a hint of calypso in Smile‘s bass line – everything is filtered through a sing-along pop prism, with nearly every chorus littered with easy-chant “woah-ohs” and “nanananaaas”. Constantly jumping, dancing, thanking individual fans, any hint of rock ‘n’ roll wildness implied by the beefed-up live sound is breezed away by their rosy-cheeked wholesomeness. This is a band you could take home to your mum – indeed, half the band’s own mum, Linda, is briefly in the spotlight when George persuades the crowd to sing her happy birthday. She blushes, then glows with pride.
At times, it seems like their boundless energy may be the only thing going for them. No amount of earnest grins and hand-claps can hide the fact some of the lyrics are overly simple and occasionally verge on the cheesy, and with most of the songs following the same bouncy-paced/big chorus/thunderous ending formula, they start to feel a little samey.
But the hard core of their flock didn’t seem to mind, with the chorus of Geronimo, the band’s best known song, turning the Borderline into a sea of raised hands. If you’re after enthusiastically cheery, relentlessly fizzy pop, and aren’t bothered about lyrical depth or credibility, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better band. “That’s passion!” beams George, indicating a small stream of sweat as he wrings it out of his t-shirt, “that’s what we do!” And he’s right.
Photos: Guifré de Peray
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Watch the video for Geronimo here: