Tonight a half-full auditorium awaited the return of Shy, who've spent the last couple of months or so in the States. They've just emerged with a new album entitled Misspent Youth, a reference to the band's past perhaps! Of course, Shy are still relatively youthful but they've been doing the rounds since 1983. In that time the band have promised much without really living up to expectations. Will it be different this time around?
Shy were given a lukewarm reception as they took to the stage. They launched straight into a new song called Burning Up taken from their new platter. This one was a taut, hard-edged rocker, which was to give a firm hint of Shy's new direction.
These days Shy have acquired a welcome injection of urgency and energy. Vocalist Tony Mills has cut down on his speeches inbetween songs and just gets on with it. This new approach was very noticeable in an old favourite Emergency as Paddy McKenna's atmospheric keyboard intro set the mood before we were besieged by the breathless vocal attack and the frantic chorus.
Shy sound slicker and more professional probably as a result of all that time spent in L.A. recording studios. They have always been striving for that classic big American sound and their brand of melodic rock with its emphasis on strong vocal harmonies certainly lends itself to it. When You Need Someone, another new song, is typical of that west coast sound. It's probably the most commercial song they've done; a radio-friendly ballad indeed!
Thankfully, the other new songs have a bit more edge to them. Take Shake The Nations, a song about world politics according to Tony Mills. This one is a real rabble-rouser with a feel very remiscient of Judas Priest. Make My Day is another stomper. Although a little derivative of Kiss's Heavens On Fire, it works well alongside the other numbers.
However, on the night, my personal favourite was Give It All You've Got, which was recently a single for the band. A special mention here for axeman Steve Harris who is a completely underrated musician. His guitar breaks always have a welcome fluidity, and the growling, mean riff displayed here was no exception. this was one of the few songs that really got the audience buzzing.
Shy encored with the old favourites, the uptempo Telephone and the moody and soul-searching Reflections (Ed. - My personal favourite). They brought proceedings to a close with a cover version of Cliff Richard's Devil Woman. Your granny would have loved it! Fortunately we were spared a special guest appearance by Cliff!
What does the future hold in store for the boys from Brum? They've got a greater variety of material than ever before, including some top notch songs. They look lean and fit and are certainly on their way to attaining that charisma that separates the men from the boys. Despite the low turnout, Shy's performance was first rate. They certainly don't deserve to disappear and I strongly suspect that the best is yet to come!