Long known as a Sheffield institution and one of the Steel City’s most loved and longest running independent venues, the Leadmill celebrates its 30th birthday this year.
Having been at the forefront of Sheffield’s music and club scene for the last 30 years and being the city’s most famous venue, the Leadmill (actually a former flour mill) was born in a cultural wasteland of rusting steelworks and rising unemployment. Its existence was banded together between volunteers with the idea of cleaning up Sheffield’s cultural wilderness and providing not only a music and club venue, but a place for theatre, education and artist workshops.
The Leadmill is a venue known for championing new bands and often showcases early talent before it reaches the masses and other known entities such as NME which has earned it a glowing reputation for holding searing gigs to passionate crowds, something which has made it many friends. With the emergence of newer venues and chains threatening to snuff out the romance of the independent venue (ahem, 02 Academy), the Leadmill has stood the test of time and stands firm, with long running nights such as SHAG and Sonic Boom still hosting indie disco debauchery.
The humble walls of the downtown club have hosted many-a band over the previous three decades and it has seen the rise of many of Sheffield’s finest musicians and artists. With Sheffield seen as the ‘it’ city at the start of the 80s and with acts such as the Human League, ABC and Cabaret Voltaire moving through the ranks, the Leadmill was soon cemented as a trend setting and forward thinking venue after showcasing the city’s hottest talent.
Of more recent times, home town starlets, Arctic Monkeys and Reverend and the Makers have passed through their doors while bands such as Kings of Leon, Muse, Coldplay, The White Stripes and The Strokes all started out on the Leadmill’s famed stage.
Not wanting to stray too far from their roots, the Leadmill is running through a revamp in the build up to their 30th birthday celebrations (that will run from Fresher’s week before a very special shindig in November) and plans for a new assault on Sheffield’s night life are underway.
Rebecca Walker, Leadmill’s live promoter said: “We want the Leadmill to be seen as the alternative club to go to again. There are too many nights where you go out and hear the same songs, we want to move away from that and provide something different.”
Top of the list is launching new nights such as B-side night and bringing back the long lost DJs that graced the Leadmill’s sticky floor in the 80s and 90s:
“We want to stick to our roots, bring back the old school and get back to what this venue was all about in the 80s,” says Walker before adding: “That’s half the point of the Steel Stage, smaller bands can play in smaller surroundings, it has a really intimate feel but it’s keeping bands in the bigger venues without playing to empty rooms.”
The plans as to what is exactly happening for its birthday celebrations are being kept on the down-low with Walker remaining coy about the festivities, only revealing: “It’s going to be massive.”
While the rumours are rife (anything from Arctic Monkeys to the Human League if you believe the gossip mongers) concerning the birthday celebrations, one thing is for sure, Leadmill is here to stay.
Here’s to another 30 years.
Coming soon to the Leadmill:
Young Rebel Set – April 16
Feeder – April 18
Don Broco – April 24
The Futureheads – May 3
The Big Pink – May 8
Sarah Mac – May 15
Marina and the Diamonds – May 22 – SOLD OUT
Teenage Fanclub – May 28