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Live Review: Sheppard – 26 July 2014 – Big Top Luna Park, Sydney, Australia

3 min read

Sheppard, consisting of siblings George, Amy and Emma Sheppard along with friends Jay Bovino, Michael Butler and Dean Gordon, is on the rise following Geronimo and its current album Bombs Away.

Last night’s performance at Luna Park’s Big Top is the second show on the Brisbane-based band’s debut headlining tour, after it opened for Keith Urban on his Australian dates.

The all ages show began with New Empire, whose selection as the opening act was fitting as its hopeful, palatable and harmonies-stacked pop-rock sound went down well. Frontman Jeremy Fowler’s earnest enthusiasm was apparent, particularly on Say it Like You Mean It, Left Behind and closer, In a Breath (the title track off the Sydney-based band’s new album). The pre-programmed synths were forgiven whenever Fowler spun excitedly across the stage.

Apart from the countdown to liftoff as Sheppard stepped on stage, there were no such pre-recorded sounds during its set. The Best Is Yet to Come was just at the right tempo to kick things off, already showcasing those glorious harmonies over inoffensive country pop-rock akin to Lady Antebellum.

Lead singer George Sheppard only committed a few concert no-nos like barely opening his eyes during the opener and running off towards the side of the stage at the end of Electric Feeling. Apart from those hiccups, he kept the energy up as he hopped like a bunny and delivered strong, grunting vocals on Hold My Tongue (during which acoustic guitarist Jay Bovino somehow took off his jacket mid-song without missing his queue). His acknowledgements of the crowd elicited the inevitable screams of teenage girls.

Amy Sheppard, the other lead vocalist, had a big voice to match that shock of turquoise hair. A Grade Playa, a rockier angry f— you to a cheater, showed off her talents the most. She also engaged well with the audience, by running from side to side on stage.

Something’s Missing was particularly infectious, generating spontaneous barn dances towards the back of the crowd. Breakthrough hit Let Me Down Easy was an obvious, effortless sing-along for the crowd.

As the songs began to sound samey-samey, Free and Find Someone changed things up. The former unreleased track waltzed on through a sparse band arrangement. The latter took out the F-bombs for the younger viewers, but still managed to sound seedy, irate and even therapeutic as George Sheppard grunted some more.

The beach balls came out for Geronimo. Although it closed the main set on a triumphant note, it really should have been an encore instead of the unnecessary cover of Lorde’s Royals. George and Amy Sheppard killed off any build-up for the young crowd who clearly had no idea what an encore was, by asking what the next song would be. As a result, the initial reaction to Geronimo was rather muted for a number one single.

The final song Halfway to Hell showed what the band was capable of, suggesting it saved the best til last. Amy Sheppard even waved her hands and hips suggestively on this rousing, fiery track, which ended with euphoric percussion.

However, the quality performances were spoiled by the poor sound mix. George and Amy Sheppards’ vocals were too loud, overbearing and almost distorted during long notes. Hopefully, the band’s next gig will sound both loud and clear.

Setlist:
The Best Is Yet To Come
Hold My Tongue
Smile
These People
Something’s Missing
Let Me Down Easy
Electric Feeling
All in my Head
A Grade Playa
Free
Find Someone
Geronimo

Encore:
Royals
Halfway To Hell