Just two weeks after the release of their third album The Official Body, dance-punk trio Shopping are in town and tonight is a sell-out in the Eagle Inn – it seems we are in some need of some retail therapy and everyone who made it in tonight has bagged a bargain. Tonight we are Shopping til we’re dropping. Yes folks, this is a Shopping spree.

Ok, that’s that out of the way. In a sense it’s a little disappointing that after three such strong albums they are still playing venues on the scale of the Eagle Inn, but of course as anybody familiar with the Salford pub knows, what it lacks in capacity it makes up for double in passion. And love is in the air tonight for sure, especially considering how damn good the new record is.

Tracks from it dominate the set and quite right too. Opener ‘The Hype’ is about as good as it gets, with frontwoman Rachel Aggs and drummer Andrew Milk swapping call-and-response vocals over a tight, jumping, dancefloor-jerking rhythm. This is Shopping’s musical home territory dating back to 2013’s brilliant debut album Consumer Complaints and they just keep getting better at it. Angular, wiry lead guitar, melodic, dancing, high-in-the-mix bass and unfussy, staccato drums, all enhanced by arch, politically savvy and playfully confrontational lyrics. Think ESG, Gang of Four or The Slits, a collision of sharp, political punk and heady, minimal dance funk.

One can tell when listening to Shopping that they are destined to be a great live band and that is certainly proven true tonight. Rachel Aggs is never once without a Cheshire cat grin from start to finish, her head bobbing and spinning like one of those little dashboard dogs. It is infectious for sure and several times I look around me to find similar ecstasy written across the faces of the majority of the room. Bassist Billy Easter throws out the best basslines to fill Manchester’s ears since Andy Rourke’s, and when the bass dances, then so should we really. Bands as economical with their sound and as tightly strung as Shopping absolutely rely on their bassists but few get one this good.

Issues of body shaming, social acceptability and tolerance are the order of the day, including one impassioned plea between songs for everybody to support queer spaces which Aggs feels are increasingly disappearing. They care, it’s obvious in everything they do, and they avoid their politics becoming preachy or polemic, which is welcome. Everything they do tonight is in service of a celebration of life and by the time they finish – far too soon – they leave their audience glowing with joy and ready to spread the positive energy as far and wide as possible.

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Max Pilley

I'm a refugee in Manchester, having successfully escaped Birmingham in 2007. I'm a soon-to-be journalism student, used to edit the music section of the Manchester Uni paper, and have done a little radio production to boot. I've been adding bits and pieces to Silent Radio since 2012, mostly gig reviews, but a few albums too. Also hoping now to get involved with the brilliant radio show. When doing none of that, you can usually find me at some gig venue somewhere around town.