The Shelters at Borderline Soho, London - live review

Tom Petty-approved rockers play their debut British headline gig

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(Image: © Katja Ogrin)

Three days ago The Shelters played their very first UK show, in front of tens of thousands of people in the sun at London’s Hyde Park. They were opening up for Tom Petty, the LA band’s mentor and co-producer of their self-titled debut album. As far as intros go, that’s hell of a gig to grab.

The Borderline wouldn’t even hold the queue for the Hyde Park toilets, but The Shelters still attack it like it’s the biggest thing they’ll ever do. There’s a fearlessness to them that’s missing in so many other new bands these days. It might be a Californian thing. Or it might just be the confidence that comes with having an A-list Amercian icon in your corner.

None of that would matter much if they didn’t have the songs, but they do. Rebel Heart and Gold sit in the Goldilocks zone between psychedelically inclinced 60s beat-pop and colourful 70s power-pop that’s at odds with the newly refurbished venue’s all-black paint scheme. There’s an unavoidable whiff of Petty’s no-frills heartland rock to it all too.

Co-frontmen Josh Jove and Chase Simpson are an unlikely pair: the quiffed Jove is James Dean to Simpson’s slacker Shaggy from Scooby Doo. Together they lift pages from How To Be A Guitar Hero playbook, peeling off the kind of solos you thought had been made illegal years ago. Only time will tell if The Shelters are 40 years behind the curve or way ahead of it.