Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Tramlines 2011

My contributions for SHUlife's coverage of Sheffield's free for all festival.

Dead Sons/The Crookes/The Futureheads/Ash – Main Stage, Sunday
As Dead Sons took to the stage early on Sunday afternoon a thundering bass took over the main arena. They’re another band that supported Arctic Monkeys at the beginning of June, though they sound more the part and despite rarely looking up through heavy haircuts, their jagged riffage set the scene for the afternoon.
Clad in trademark snappy suits and shades, The Crookes bounced across the main stage, throwing themselves at the task in hand at full throttle. As they came to end of their set they pulled ‘Backstreet Lovers’ and ‘Yes, Yes, We Are Magicians’ out of their ever growing back catalogue to rile up the crowd who vociferously asked for more.
The Futureheads don’t need any introductions. They opened with ‘The Beginning Of The Twist’ (the biggest hit played so far today) to the crowd’s jubilation before hammering through ‘Decent Days And Nights’ and finishing with ‘Hounds Of Love’ with their trademark Geordie hollers. 
The Lost Brothers – The Wick At Both Ends, Sunday
It was a quiet affair in The Wick At Both Ends with folk duo, The Lost Brothers, keeping things unplugged and encapsulating their awed audience. It was as intimate as it gets with even the faintest hint of chat getting shushed down immediately as their immaculate harmonies drifted from heart-rending to sublime.
Elephant Keys – Frog and Parrot, Sunday
Things were a little bit more hectic in the Frog and Parrot as Elephant Keys let loose their brash rock n roll to a packed house. Catchy melodies, riffs and licks stole the show as energetic front man Phil Goodwin threw himself between monitor tops and his microphone before they left the stage with puddles of sweat and smouldering guitars. 
Jersey Budd and Josh T Pearson – Leadmill, Sunday
It’s a shame that Jersey Budd had to battle the crowd for his husky voice to be heard. Shedding his band and keeping things low key, the singer/songwriter from Leicester showcased songs from his debut album ‘Wonderland’ with sincerity and personal triumph.
“You guys weren’t very nice to Jersey, y’all going to be nice to me?” Are the first words Josh T Pearson uttered as he brought the curtains down on Leadmill’s weekend. He held the crowd from conversation as he chatted idly for five minutes, laughing and joking, before playing songs from ‘Last Of The Country Gentlemen’ with a gruelling sadness.
It was his between song banter that saved his audience leaving the show as tear filled wrecks with the emotional songsmithery  touching nerves in each corner of the room with tales of alcoholism, infidelity and self loathing. A fitting end
Carl Woodford – The Folk Forest, Saturday
Carl Woodford’s reputation as one of Sheffield’s finest folk stars is growing, and so is his crowd. His finger picking croonery and tales of heartbreak build up to the 31 year-olds curtain closer, ‘Coloured Walls’, in which he fashions his well known strum n’ drum technique with an unmerciful attack on his guitar. 
Sarah Mac – The Library Theatre, Saturday
When SHUlife picked Sarah Mac singer as one of our Ones To Watch back in November last year, it looks like we may have been on to something.
As The Library Theatre filled up and Sarah Mac took to the stage there was a hushed silence before she swung into her jazz blues, twisted with a hit of pop.
“Have you been having a good time? I think it has been proper mint,” said the singer before introducing ‘Sessions’ which was delivered with smiles before her minimal band of drums and bass left her to complete the set with ‘Everyone Knows’, leaving everyone with a tear in their eye. 
The Black Flowers/The Tivoli/The Book Club/The Monicans/Mabel Love – Leadmill, Saturday
It’s a celebration of Sheffield’s finest down at the Leadmill and SHUlife’s November 2010 Band Of The Month, Black Flowers, jangled through some of their newer offerings to a packed Steel Stage.
The rattle and shake in newer songs such as ‘Lies’ show they still know how to write a tune but they’ve softened their edge, and they’re suffering for it.
The Tivoli have been a main stay on the Sheffield music scene for over five years now and as Lee McMahon’s throat shredding vocals ripped through the crowd they showed what a tight unit they’ve become. Despite this, their powerful guitar driven tunes provoked relatively little crowd response, unusual at a Tivoli gig.
The main stage was rammed to see Exposed Magazine’s voted Best Band, Book Club, but despite the anticipation, it was slow starting as they introduced tracks from their new album until Carnell said: “Alright then, we’ve changed the set a bit,” and they deliver ‘Somebody’s Daughter’ and ‘Mr K’ with a perfection that goads the crowd into frenzy.
The grunge sensibilities of The Monicans went down well on the Steel Stage as their their loyal faithful got their dancing shoes on at the front while the band dripped sweat through their screeching guitars.
After their support slot with Arctic Monkeys and growing reputation as an impressive live band, Mabel Love have been gaining admirers. It didn’t show though and what usually spits charming indie, stumbled and stuttered towards the night end.
Futures and Twin Atlantic – Leadmill, Friday
Emo scenesters Futures entered the fray with a their upbeat pop rock and a need to be noticed.  As they ran through crowd favourite, ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’,  things get going but it was noticeable the side parted haircuts and teen romancers were waiting for Twin Atlantic when singer Ant West piped up: “I’ve heard there’s a football team here called Sheffield Wednesday? They must be the greatest team in the world.”
It’s little wonder that when the Glaswegian quartet, Twin Atlantic,  do stroll on there’s an air of anticipation. After tour supports with Blink 182 and Biffy Clyro recently completed the publicity seems to have done the trick and it’s in no time that the crowd had their hands in the air as they ran through tracks from their recent album, ‘Free’, with guile filled licks and fizzing energy.
The Blackbirds and Lewis Floyd Henry – Frog and Parrott, Friday
This small pub on Division Street was splitting at the seams and as The Blackbirds (a concoction of Cut Your Wings and Shot Dead) filled the air with feral blues there’s little wonder people were craning their necks just try and get a look at them. It was loud and unforgiving as they played a mix of their own songs and covers with a visceral edge.
As Lewis Floyd Henry stepped on stage and began to unleash his blues psychedelia, things began to spice up. He’s best known for his raucous busking sessions on the capital’s street corners but the one man show hit another notch as people stood as close as a foot away when the venue closed in on over capacity.
After his debut album, ‘One Man And His 30w Pram’ hit critical acclaim with BBC 6 Music and Mojo, the London based singer already has a cult following that has spread to the Steel City.   

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