Friday, 31 July 2009

Tramlines Festival - Sheffield

So, Sheffield has its very first ‘proper’ festival. Based over thirty venues and with different ‘lines’ to suit each taste it looks like curators John McClure, Matt Helders and Toddla T have had their work cut out.


It's Saturday night and first on the must see list is the should be, would be, could be folk legend Carl Woodford down at the Rude Shipyard. Known more for its pastries and poetry, the building is busting at the seams as we arrive. With around fifty people cramped into a hot, sweaty room that resembles an old persons lounge more than anything Mr Woodford finally takes to the stage.

The show is free of microphones, PAs and any kind of wire giving the proceedings an intimacy that you would struggle to find elsewhere. Woodford sheepishly introduces himself before falling straight into ‘The Love Laughter And Money Show’ with an extra addition to his line-up - an extra guitarist named Ralph has been drafted in for the occasion and aptly strums in the background to Woodford’s furrowing finger picking.

His guitar work is incredible to say the least and the songs are buried deep within a world of alternative folk with each song subtly displaying the span of the man’s talent. It’s not until the end when Woodford introduces what is clearly a hotly anticipated number and as he strums and drums (yes drums, on his guitar) his way through ‘Coloured Walls’, Woodford’s arms become a blur and fifty people are staring agape as the Scarborough born singer/songwriter becomes the first human to successfully turn themselves into a cartoon. www.myspace.com/carlwoodford

As we roll back onto the beaten track and into town we find the Steel in a world of mayhem with people scattering every street corner trying to get glimpses of anything that might be going on.

As we walk past DQ there are huge queues of people just trying to get a look at ex Milburn front man Joe Carnell making a live debut with his new band Joe Carnell and the Book Club.

We fight the crowds to get into the Grapes where neighbours from Rotherham, the Heebie Jeebies, are stomping their way through a sweet blend of jangly guitars and popping bass in front of a riotous crowd. Their jibber jabbering drifts through the sweat and stench to deliver a lively set with enough energy to power a small town. www.myspace.com/theheebiefuckinjeebies

Then back off the beaten track and down to the Red House where trumpets are a-blazing and skanking is ensuing. The Hostiles aren’t playing to many and by one o’clock people are paying more attention to the 17 stone bald man stood at the bar, celebrating his birthday by drinking 18 shots in a row than their jumpy and expertly executed jump-along ska. www.myspace.com/hostileska

Back into town for Sunday and as we arrive at the main stage our spirits are high, if a little over-hung and despite the never ending rain clouds that sit over Sheffield’s seven hills there are still plenty of bands to be seen.

As we enter the main area to have a gander at the Hallam FM stage Sheffield’s own Oblong are offering up something lost between rock and electro to a sparse crowd. Their sound is tight, if a little lost to the size of their stage and front-lass Tracey Deakin’s vocals are delivered clinically for ‘I AM The Noise’.

As their set comes to an end a kiddie conga lines skirts the perimeter and the rain threatens to get ever harder but anticipation is in the air for the next band.


The Violet May are fronted my none other than Chris McClure, the man who appeared on Arctic Monkeys' controversial album sleeve for ‘Whatever People Say I Am...’ and of course, brother to festival curator and Makers’ front man, the Reverend.
Despite the junior sound engineer turning up for their set the Violet May chug through a glam induced orgasm of noise which rips through the growing crowd. The vocals are not sharp from McClure but he’s entertaining as he saunters between his dark horse of a band. www.myspace.com/thevioletmay
A couple of hours later we return to the main stage and back into the bleak to see Lord of Flatbush summer it up. With Steve Edwards (Bob Sinclair) and ex-monkey Andy Nicholson riling the Sheffield crowd with dance floor classics such as ‘World Hold On’ the rain turns into a forgotten aspect of the day as their summer anthems consume an ever growing crowd. www.myspace.com/lordofflatbush

With the absence of the scheduled La’s the thousands of brollies form a tortoise formation on Devonshire Green waiting for the festivals headline act. As Reverend and the Makers take to the stage and open with new single ‘Silence Is Talking’ the huge Sheffield crowd starts to bounce along and it doesn’t take long for the Reverend to address the crowd with comments such as “fuck the BNP!” and having a word with the over exuberant teens at the front, “I don’t care if you’re a Blade or an Owl, it’s all Sheffield,” before he gets emotional on his home town mob, “This is the point innit? Together!”
The band pound through hits such as ‘Heavyweight Champion Of The World’ and display many of the songs that feature on their new album ‘French Kiss In The Chaos’ to wind up a successful weekend for Jon McClure. http://www.iamreverend.com/
As we cram into the Frog and Parrot to warm our sodden shackles the Century Kids are taking out their troubles on an unsuspecting crowd rather than their parents for a change. While they stamp their feet around the tiny stage passers-by look through the windows to see what the ruckus is all about until the door opens and the lacklustre harmonies creep out into the night air giving themselves and ourselves a perfectly good reason to leave, leaving us with a slightly submissive end to a weekend of good music. www.myspace.com/centurykids

http://www.tramlines.org/

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