Shader Review
by Jack Pearce and Kadir Guler

Review for Ay Up Duck Radio’s Sugarmill Show

As the September sun set on Stoke-on-Trent, the night was only just beginning at the Sugarmill as a reassuringly large number of punters slowly trickled through the doors into the atrium on Friday 17th September, making it clear that we were in for a treat as three local bands took to the stage.


First up were MARMA, a local five-piece band who opened with Polarity, a dark and melodic track which served as an excellent introduction to what the band were about; grooving renditions of thought-provoking lyrics over chiming guitars and an atmospheric synth really set the tone for what was to be an excellent set full of strong basslines, rhythm, and style unlike most bands in the local and national music scenes.

Drawing influences from the likes of Joy Division, Pink Floyd, and Oasis, it is clear to see why MARMA are so complete and diverse in their sound which ranges from Brit Pop to post-punk and everything in between. MARMA’s guitar music elevated by synth often felt like an ode to Placebo, though the band is keen not to be pigeonholed into one specific genre, rather hoping fans interpret their expressions in their own way.

This liberal approach to genre-fluidity imbues a real sense of identity and personality in the band, allowing each of the five members to express themselves individually across their set as their sizeable following watched on.

Often harrowing lyrics were excellently delivered by frontman and guitarist Brandon Stockley while rhythm guitarist Will White was given ample room to show off his incredible skills as a musician. The work of keyboardist Jack LB gave superb depth to the whole performance, elevating it to the next level of complexity while bassist Ike Reed and drummer Andrew Bailey did anything but sit back and keep rhythm, instead displaying their own flare and abilities with total freedom, Reed allegedly being the only bassist capable of playing the opening to introductory track Polarity.

Certainly a “watch this space” moment, I am very excited for what the future holds for MARMA and I hope to see them play at The Sugarmill again soon, I’m sure that they will somehow find a way to surpass their already lofty standards of performance.


The Ežys

Second to the stage were The Ežys, another band formed in Staffordshire with a unique sound to share. The trio treated fans to five currently unreleased songs amongst their usual repertoire, delivering an emotional performance which conjured up comparisons to U2 and The Killers, all while performing without a drummer in the band; the notable departure of the band’s drummer in May left The Ežys stumped, but the three-piece found this loss as an opportunity to experiment and shine in an untraditional way.

Frontman and bassist Daryl Parkin filled the auditorium with his soulful and tender voice, utilising his bass guitar to fill out any low-tones potentially missing due to the notable challenge of no percussion on stage. Parkin was not the only one to abundantly compensate for this, as the self-titled “key smasher” Dean Anderson displayed his ability to adapt onstage, utilising synth to lead the beat on stage while giving the set some diversity from the swirling guitar riffs provided by the very talented Martin Wilson on rhythm guitar. Wilson’s work was excellently displayed in The Heat and the unreleased Heart Attack via his abilities to perform impressive instrumentals, culminating in a crescendo of sound which made me thing of a steam train chugging along before reaching an electric apex on the track’s climax.

Very impressive on the night, especially considering the so-called limitations of the band which they quickly flaunted to produce an excellent and tight performance. While Memories at 5 states “we’re never gonna come back again.” I certainly hope the band is not singing about The Sugarmill, because I would personally welcome them back with open arms.





Headliners SHADER were quick to impress, providing a brazen and saucy performance with an immediately obvious band chemistry allowing for an energised performance throughout the evening.

Kicking off with a lively rendition of Streets Tell Stories, SHADER felt immediately like the lovechild of Franz Ferdinand and The Enemy, a bold yet accurate comparison to two very influential British rock bands famed for their swinging and addictive guitar melodies and profound messages in their work. Good company to have comparison-wise.

With the audience immediately onside, the four-piece kicked on through their set, delivering a mixture of their older and newer songs before reaching Blackholes (The World Eats a Weak Man) which sounded twice as good live as the band had freedom to experiment and deconstruct their own work, really displaying their love for their work and the vast musical knowledge they collectively hold.

SHADER clearly write with forethought and prowess with tracks such as Time is Right causing thought-provoking moments in absorbing lyrics, a track which made even the heaviest Carling drinkers pause for a moment in reflection and realisation at the powerful sound coming from the stage.

The versatile quartet of frontman and guitarist Stu Whiston, bassist Daz Edwards, guitarist Mike Lo Bosco, and drummer Tommy Turney flexed their abilities all night long, inviting the audience to be the fifth member of the band as they danced and sang along, creating an atmosphere of positive inclusivity and mild chaos, egging on the chants of “SHADER!” and impromptu mosh pits which were rampant throughout their set.

This review wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the talents of drummer Tommy “TNT” Turney, who provided a passionate performance throughout and whose energy could not be compromised; Turney provided an enslaving and almost tribalistic beat to the evening which I found myself missing immediately after the gig finished. It’s refreshing to see such active enjoyment from a band, and Turney was clearly feeding off the energy from the audience.

Ending with a sentimental cover of Simple Minds’ Don’t You (Forget About Me), a demand I’ll take seriously, SHADER proved that they are certainly ones to watch as they complete their UK tour and hopefully churn out more hits that rise even higher on the charts than they already have done.

This was certainly an evening to remember, with the band’s far-reaching following taking them out of Stoke and setting them on the world stage soon to receive rapturous reception. There is little doubt as to whether they went home satisfied, after a memorable, if not raucous evening with one of the Potteries’ finest bands.


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© Jack Pearce & Kadir Guler 2021
Contact: SugarmillShow@gmail.com







    Tickets: 0115 896 0163
    Telephone: 01782 243 104