Sharks, The Social, 31 August 2011

We still wonder whether the phrase ‘punk is not dead’ makes any sense. Who is a punk today? Supposedly a person with attitude and charisma, who breaks the rules and still listens to The Sex Pistols dreaming of an anarchist society. So Frank Turner is a punk. Green Day are punk and Lady Gaga is punk. More simply, punk is something related to youth and its freshness and, today, it comes from Birmingham.

Sharks are four impeccably groomed and quite good looking youngsters from Birmingham who have been listening to The Clash a lot. And when I say a lot, I mean it.

But what a noise, what experience, how mighty this foursome is no one could have predicted a year ago when they shyly supported The Gaslight Anthem on tour.  In a year they have grown impressively and their headlining slot in the tiny Social in Oxford Circus was proof there will always be room for colourful Vans, vibrant tattoos, chequered shirts and undercuts because punk is definitely not dead.

Opening with the bombastic Trains, sung along with by almost every single person in the crowd, Sharks made clear their gig would be short, poignant and energetic. You could tell the band have been working hard to get their place in the sun, and the resulting debut EP, Show Of Hands, is glorious and passionate.

The highlight of their performance came with a gem of a second track, Police On My Back. Sharks’ cover of this everlasting Clash classic was so perfect people might have believed it was better than the original.

Sharks clearly sound like The Clash, but they don’t mean merely to cut and copy – this is a young band who is so in love with their heroes that they want to keep the tradition alive. Only half an hour after opening the gig, Sharks are already sweating and drinking lots of water, but cheering to the adoring crowd.

The night ends with Glove In Hand after just 40 minutes, but how punk is that? You don’t need a whole hour to show your passion, enthusiasm and anger. In half an hour you can pretend London ’77 never left people’s consciousness – even if you weren’t born then. Tonight The Social hosted a rare talent, sure future cover stars of Rocksound and Kerrang!. It’s not just tattoos, it’s passion. And that will never die.

By Silvia Rucchin

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