Shrinks Extravaganza !
May 3rd 2002 at Dom Kombatanta, the Polish Ex-Servicemens' Club, Bristol

The 'warm-up band': (L to R)

Pete Atkin (ac gtr, kbd, lead voc)
Tim Fish
(el gtr)
Dave Lewis
(bs gtr, voc)
Simon Fish

Click on any picture to view an enlargement

The Shrinks and friends: (L to R)

Pete Atkin (keyboard)
Martin Solomon
(fiddle, accordion)
Dave Lewis
(bass guitar, vocal)
Hilary Steven
(backing vocal)
David Brown
(acoustic guitar, lead vocal)
Tim Fish
(lead electric guitar)
Guy Prichard
(electric guitar, banjo, harmonica, vocal)
Simon Fish
(drums, stool)

Review by Leslie Moss

If you'd had an evening and five nicker to spare last night, you would have had a treat in store for you at he Polish Club in Bristol at 8.30pm (well, 9pm actually, since one of the artists was late, having to be in court - the legal side of the bench, not the criminal side!).

Pete was performing in two capacities - as a member of the Shrinks and as front-man for the warm-up band. As Pete previously posted, this was the first occasion on which he was playing his own material with a real band since the seventies tours. The warm-up slot (for that is what we are talking about) lasted around half an hour. Pete was accompanied by three Shrinks members, Dave Lewis (bass guitar), Tim Fish (lead guitar) and Simon Fish (drums). For me, this was a real treat as the only time I had seen Pete perform with a band before was on the A&R stage at the Donmar Warehouse.

Fellow Voices Andy Love (thanks for the lift, Andy - sorry I fell asleep on the way back), Janice Sim and Steve, Carole and Alexis Birkill were joined by Janice's friend Dawne. Janice noted down the set list which I did not, so I am relying on my memory here.

Pete's set was all taken from the Lakeside Sessions albums. With no introduction except a "one two three four" from Pete, the band headed straight into a powerful opening rendition of Sudden Arrivals. What a great sound! Dave Lewis' creative driving bass lines perfectly supported by a furious Simon Fish, and tasteful lead lines from Tim Fish enabled Pete to focus on a strong rhythmic keyboard, allowing him the unusual freedom to concentrate on his vocals. Shrinks fans who were unfamiliar with Pete's own material sat up and paid attention.

The set closed in equally strong fashion, with My Brother's Keeper getting the feet tapping all around the Club. Pete varied the pace a little during the set. On Over The High Side (one of my personal favourites) he swapped the Roland for Shrinks frontman Dave Brown's electro-acoustic guitar and the three guitars plus drum combination was just what the song needed. The rest of the set was on the keyboard: a great performance of Dreamboat where you could hear the schooner rolling in the waves. The set was completed with Get It Out Of Your Head (great walking bass from Dave Lewis) and Canoe, the only song I felt was slightly smothered by the arrangement.

Pete Atkin band setlist:

Sudden Arrivals (kbd)
Canoe (kbd)
Over The High Side (gtr)
Get It Out Of Your Head (kbd)
Dreamboat (kbd)
My Brother's Keeper (kbd)

The Shrinks set was a full two hours, much of it good-time country-rock. Pete played a solid keyboard groove in most of the material, not detracting from the frontmen (special mention to Guy Prichard for some delicious finger-picking). For my taste, there was a slight lack of variety in the sound that made the set lose a little interest towards the end. Maybe the vocal duties could be shared around a bit more - Dave Brown's voice is excellent but we didn't hear enough of Guy Prichard (not to mention Pete Atkin!). But that said, what a tight outfit! A great live sound that had many of the audience on their feet dancing.

All in all a really good time - two-and-a-half hours of quality, highly professionally-performed music for a fiver fer crissake! Pete with a backing band is an entirely different experience from his solo work and, judging from the audience reaction, more engaging to the uncommitted listener. Let's hope that it's not the last time we have this opportunity. Maybe if next year's XoD were to be held Bristol way the Shrinks could be persuaded to come and play too?

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