Witter on to a winner as Shed Seven play Doncaster Racecourse on Saturday night

Seven races and Shed Seven: Saturday evening’s double bill of the sport of kings and live music at Doncaster Racecourse

RICK Witter has never been to a racecourse, let alone fronted Shed Seven in a post-racing gig.

That changes on Saturday when the York band come under starter’s orders for a Live After Racing set at Doncaster Racecourse’s evening meeting.

“Weirdly, I’ve never been to York Races…though I have seen the fall-out afterwards! People dressed to the nines weaving their way back to the city-centre,” says Rick. 

“From memory, we’ve never done a racecourse gig, but it was literally as simple as Live At The Races, who put on these shows, asking us if we wanted to play Doncaster. They asked us in 2019, and it’s now third time lucky after what happened because of Covid.”

The Sheds suffered two false starts, first when their original August 2020 booking and then their rearranged May 2021 date had to be declared non-runners under the Government’s pandemic lockdown restrictions.

Rick cannot wait for Saturday’s kick-start to a summer diary full of outdoor Shed Seven performances. “The gates open at 2.45pm, the first race is at 5.15, the last one at 8.40, and we’ll be on at around 9.30, so everyone could be smashed by then! It looks like it’ll be a messy night!” he says.

The Sheds will be playing myriad festivals, seven in total, from Sign Of The Times at Hatfield to Kubix Festival at New Herrington; Tramlines in Sheffield to Belladrum Tartan Heart at Inverness; Camp Bestival in Dorset and Shropshire to Camper Calling in Alcester.

Where’s New Herrington, Rick? “It’s a good question! I’ve no idea, but I know I’ll get a ride there and sing some songs!” he says, as County Durham  awaits.

“We’re all over the country this summer. Every second year we tend to do our Shedcember tours, playing loads of shows in four of five weeks, but with festivals, you play over a weekend, have a few days to recover, then we’re ready for the next weekend.”

Not only festivals are in the Shed Seven diary for 2022. So too are recording sessions for the follow-up to their November 2017 “comeback” album, Instant Pleasures. “That one took us 16 years between albums [since 2001’s Truth Be Told], so if we could do the next one in six, we would be taking ten years off the gap,” says Rick.

“If we want to release it in September next year, everything has to be ready nine months before that these days, so we’ll have to crack on. We’ll be hammering away on that over the summer.

“We have four or five songs written already, so we’re getting towards halfway, and we’re working again with John Dawkins, who oversaw Instant Pleasures. Everything’s being put in place, but we probably won’t go abroad for the recording sessions this time. We’ll go to a residential British studio.”

Can Rick reveal any song titles yet? “The one that I’m enjoying the most is called Kissing California,” he says. “Weirdly, the lyrics I’m coming out with at the moment – and it must be subconscious – are about going somewhere, because for a while we couldn’t do that, could we, so Kissing California is a three-and-a-quarter-minute pop song spent travelling with the one you love.”

Shed Seven played three American concerts at the maximum high of their Britpop-era success, New York and San Francisco being among the locations, but the third one escaping Rick’s immediate recollection. “It’s a strange experience because you just go over there, just play the gig and move on to the next one, and that’s it,” he says.

“It looks like it’ll be a messy night!” says Rick Witter, centre, ahead of Shed Seven’s Live After Racing gig

“When we did go back, the record company flew us over just to photograph the artwork for Let It Ride in 1998, stopping off in Reno and Las Vegas and driving through Death Valley to film us, and giving us money to buy clothes. But no gigs! That wouldn’t happen now. They’d just photo-shop it!”

Thoughts turn back to racecourse gigs. If you are surprised that Shed Seven have never played their home-city track, Rick is even more so. “The fact that we b****y live here, it gets to the point, after so many years of not being asked, where you think, ‘is there any reason for it?’, ” he wonders. 

“But I would love to put a Shed Seven headline gig on the Knavesmire with loads of supporting acts, and that would take precedence now. We also need to play the new Community Stadium. It looks really good – and I’m following York City’s fortunes.”

Come Saturday, might the Sheds be tempted to do a cover version with a horse theme? Maybe The Byrds’ Chestnut Mare? Perhaps The Rolling Stones’ Wild Horses? Or how about the left-field screeching guitar rock of The Osmonds’ Crazy Horses?

“You might be on to something there! You could really make something of that Osmonds’ sound, but Wild Horses is beautiful, and Chestnut Mare is one of my favourite Byrds’ songs,” says Rick.

“Isn’t that the one about a man marrying his horse?” Well, Roger McGuinn’s lyric does say, “And we’ll be friends for life, she’ll be just like a wife”.

Anyway, back to The Osmonds. “At some point in the future, if we end up doing it, don’t come running for your ten per cent!” says Rick.

On a racing weekend when he will be chasing winners as much as Chasing Rainbows, he is already on a winning streak. “Did you watch it on Saturday night?” he asks? What? “I was on Pointless Celebrities.”

Did you win? “Yes we romped it at the end, me and Mark Morriss, from The Bluetones. We got the pointless score for charity. Mark picked three Jude Law films that got pointless scores as he’s a film buff…or he’s just some kind of mental case that stores information!” says Rick.

To book for Saturday, go to: doncaster-racecourse.co.uk/whats-on/music-live-featuring-shed-seven.

Copyright of The Press, York

An evening at the races: Shed Seven on course for Doncaster