Featuring ex-Mahumodo frontman Mehdi Safa, *Shels are a strange one to call for the uninitiated. They start with a slow, rolling and fairly ambient intro that takes a good 5 minutes to get up to speed and with no vocals to speak of (other than some high pitched wailing) it's an unusual start to the set. I'm already wondering where all of this is going when a guy dressed as a viking comes on stage to add some trumpet accompaniment!
The second song of the set sees the introduction of vocals and a more mainstream structure. There's some nice interplay between hard and light moments and the further they progress the more they create something of a hypnotic vibe and you do get the feeling that they could just go on for hours! *Shels are like a glacier, they take ages to get going but when they do they build an impressive wall of sound that just keeps on rolling.
Despite the odd injection of some aggressive vocals it does start to get rather confusing though as the tunes never really go anywhere or let loose and after 20 minutes they start to sound like one big jam around the same song. Every time they get a little heavy it lasts no more than a few bars before dropping back to a more ambient feel and whilst it's undoubtedly nicely done, it's also somewhat repetitive and a little frustrating. Having checked out some of their studio recordings post gig it's probably fair to say that *Shels would have a much bigger impact live if you're already familiar with the material. They get a decent reaction from the crowd today but looking around there seem to be a fair few people who aren't sure what to make of them and today at least I'm one of them.