Live Music

Review: Inspiral Carpets at The Leadmill

Despite not being the only big name from the Madchester music scene in the 1980s and 90s, Oldham’s own Inspiral Carpets are veterans to the alternative rock scene of the time, having links with the Happy Mondays and Stone Roses, they are truly influential British legends.

Their Leadmill gig on 6th December saw fans young and old gather together to celebrate an extraordinary act. It was a flawless gig with a killer combination of old and new tracks, giving everybody something to love.

After seeing the Happy Mondays a year ago this month, there was a distinctive contrast between the two groups despite coming from just around the corner from each other. It was very evident throughout the Mondays gig that these guys had hit it hard over the last 30 years. In contrast, no spark had been lost from the Inspirals, a perfect sound and charismatic performance that sounded as enthused and energetic as I imagine it had done the first time they were on stage.

An unbeatable blending of dance and indie that made standing still impossible. The new single Spitfire should be purchased by anybody with any taste immediately.

Review: The Horrors, Leadmill, September 30th

Some of you may have read my less than favourable review on the new album from The Horrors (Luminous) and how I had concluded that I was sincerely hopeful that the gig would make at least some kind of impression.

Well… although I still am yet to be even slightly moved by their latest effort, the new tracks gave a relatively enjoyable “hold music” while I waited for their better tracks.

The Leadmill was absolutely busting at the seams and even when I found myself at times less than enamoured there were a considerable amount of people that clearly were. Despite a slightly awkward amount of interference, there is no denying that the group as a whole delivered a fairly wonderful performance.

My appreciation was given mostly to the Primary Colours tracks (Scarlet Fields, A Sea within a Sea etc.) which just had much more energy and substance to them than the new songs which, as I say, felt more as if they acted as interlude music until the next “proper” track was played.

As the Horrors have gradually appeared to have toned things down since Strange House (the album that nobody talks about) it may very well be possible that I was expecting just something a little more exciting and perhaps shouldn’t have been. I understand that there comes a time for a band to mature or perhaps even explore a new path, it is just unfortunate that for me, The Horrors have lost a lot of their uniqueness and magic along the way.

Review: Kids in Glass Houses at Corporation

The main room at Sheffield’s finest alternative nightclub was filled to the brim for Kids in Glass Houses on the 12th October.  The silence broke and a familiar yet unusual tune began to play. It was “Non, je ne regrette rien” by Edith Piaf – and it halted every conversation in the room. The tension skyrocketed after the classic had come to an end and there was a brief silence before the excited cheers and squeals of fans.

On came Kids in Glass Houses and began one of the most fun gigs I have attended in quite some time. Aled Phillips (lead singer) addressed the audience and kicked things off with Artbreaker I from the 2010 album Dirt. I was surprised and elated at the pure talent he possessed singing live with each track sounding like a recording taken from a studio perfected album.

I was wooed by impressive showmanship, Aled climbed on stage equipment and hung on to metal bars. There was absolutely no barrier between audience and performer as he responded to peoples’ shouts and made jokes with the crowd. When Aled pointed the microphone towards us, the entire room sang back, it was truly delightful. There was a perfect mix of songs from old to new as the group conjured up a near perfect set list containing songs from four studio albums.

Not once did it look as if performing that night looked like a chore and in return the crowd reciprocated the same passion and energy, when the band said bounce, the room moved in unison. It was an extraordinarily exciting gig, upon arrival I wouldn’t have expected myself to have been dancing and shouting lyrics along with everybody else but it was irresistible. It was clear that the band and the audience had the same agenda – to have a great time, and this was exactly what happened.

Towards the middle of the night, the group slowed it down a little for an acoustic song which promoted a sea of waving arms and a couple of cheeky lighters in the air, then things exploded to finish on a wonderfully high note. It is a huge shame that this will be the last time that Kids in Glass Houses will be playing with the announcement of a breakup in February 2014. These guys are not normally my cup of tea musically but if I left every gig I went to with that same level of happiness and excitement the world would be a better place.


The Rusbies review

Sheffields’ own rock and roll group The Rusbies styled one of our best loved live music venues, The Plug, on 22 August.

The very first thing I noticed was that The Rusbies have a wonderful supportive following who would chant and scream which gave the atmosphere an exciting edge: when they threw out a free t-shirt to the crowd it went down a treat – I wouldn’t have minded one myself!

There was one point during the gig where a slightly inebriated gentleman was given permission to come on stage as it was allegedly the fella’s birthday. I don’t know if was a relative or close friend and although some people in the crowd seemed to love the gimmick, for me it really took away some of the shine from the performance.

Despite this interesting interruption it there were many wonderful things about this gig including the vocals. These were spot on sounding very Doherty-esque – emphasised perhaps by lead singer Nathan Keeble having a few beverages previously.

The band also threw out a cover of Tainted Love and they did a superb job of this! The drumming was excellent and it was clear that the group have a passion for what they do, and that others share the passion with them.

At the moment they’re a very rough and ready group who are incredibly down to earth and more than happy to interact with a crowd, destroying any barrier between audience and performer, which is one of the reasons local groups can grow to be so popular.

Missed this gig? Not to worry! The Rusbies will also be playing local venue The Rocking Chair on November 28th.

The Sonik Seeds review

This four pieced performed beautifully (at The Leadmill, 16/08/14) with just the right amount of modesty and showmanship which made them very charming and endearing.

It was a short but superb set but it certainly left the audience wanting more. These guys have a delightful raw rock and roll sound with a sixties vibe. It is remarkably refreshing seeing bands explore older sounds from previous generations and give them a new lease of life, and this has been executed perfectly by The Sonik Seeds.

You may have already heard the band, either featuring on a video for popular cosmetic brand Rimmel with Georgia Jagger, or after they had their first play live on BBC Sheffield Introducing… with their single Shine On. They play as beautifully live and have a chemistry together which is rare and wonderful.

Once again Sheffield and the surrounding areas have done us proud. I firmly believe we are still trying to make our voices heard in Sheffield, being a smaller city than our neighbours Leeds and Manchester and not always being first choice with bigger artists, but with bands like these coming off our Sheffield streets and on to the stage people have no choice but to hear us.

Rolo Tomassi at Tramlines – review

Returning to Sheffield for their first live performance of 2014, Rolo Tomassi tore up Corporation for the Tramlines festival.

The show follows a period of creative hiatus for the band as they have locked themselves away writing their fourth album, four years since their first, Hysteric (2008).

Eve Spence and the band did not disappoint, playing with true exertion and energy to a crowd of dedicated and surviving festival goers on the third and final day of Tramlines.

Rolo Tomassi played their half-hour midday set like they were headlining the bigger rock festivals such as Download and after thanking fans for their continued support they indulged the audience by playing a few new unreleased tracks during the set, unfortunately due to the sheer energy of the crowd (not at all a complaint) I was unable to hear the titles.

These new tracks followed the same winning Tomassi formula as their previous work, using a mixture of vocal registers with complimenting heavy instrumental thrashing and softer building up pieces.

The songs weren’t the only new things Rolo Tomassi had to offer either: mid-set the band introduced a new member, drummer Tom Pitts, to the group noting it was his first show with them. Something a casual listener might have overlooked as the band played with a united harmony as if they were still all the original members from when they formed in 2005.

Looking back at the previous Tramlines that Rolo Tomassi have been involved in one thing is always a guarantee for their shows and that is the energetic crowds. Whilst the scene might have been different in the dark Corporation main room from their sunlight shows in front of City Hall, the ‘pit’ emerged loyally again in front of the band.

Not many bands evoke audience participation in the way Rolo Tomassi does. There’s a sense of passive adrenaline that comes with the sight of all those bodies being thrown about to beat of their music. With the crowd being constantly combed over by an intense industrial light display, and the strobe lighting flashing in unison to the music, you can’t help but feel energised and pumped even if you daren’t enter the ‘pit’ yourself. During ‘the scales of balance’ the movement in the crowd was so electric there was a moment I almost forgot what I’d come to see, the band or the crowd.

Sadly there are currently no more confirmed shows for the rest of this year although Eve ended the set with a very promising and exciting “see you guys later in the year.” Personally I hope to see them again next year at Tramlines, as it’s become some sort of a ritual for me. Rolo Tomassi were followed onstage by London’s instrumental trio Three Trapped Tigers (Sunday’s Corporation Headliners), who brought their own unique captivating noise to round off the show – and round off Corporation’s live contribution to the festival.

The Jezabels at The Plug: review

I’d not heard of The Jezabels until relatively recently when I stumbled upon a huge poster in the city centre advertising their new album The Brink; later the same evening I decided to stick it on Spotify and have not looked back!

Quite often I need to hear an album in its entirety several times to be able to make what I believe would be an informed opinion but it became evident immediately that new release was completely saturated in magic.  Much to my delight I was notified that the group were soon to play the new release at one of Sheffield’s renowned live music venues – The Plug. With regret, on this occasion I was unable to attend in time to see the support act Shermer however, I keep my fingers crossed that I will catch them on another occasion.

The Jezabels were outstanding, and there were so many factors that contributed to it being such a wondrous evening. At this point I feel that I must confess (if it has not been evident already) that I am very fond of most music that involves a keyboard, so having Heather Shannon looking beautiful beside one gave them a slight advantage.

After reading that they had described themselves as “intensindie” I was curious to find out what this meant. I think those who see themselves as ‘serious’ music critics could  perhaps cast this off as just another pop group but to see them perform I think it’s evident they have a lot of depth.

Hayley Mary has such haunting vocals, she possesses a voice that seems to get inside your head as well as your ears, and there is a particular element of ‘moodiness’ that seems to hold genuine emotion.

I particularly enjoyed the aesthetics of the band, all in dark clothing which made them eerie in the best possible way, I was especially happy to see the women fully dressed and looking smart which for me helps me to take them more seriously. It’s clear they care more for the art of their music than taking the route a lot of female musicians do by wearing as little as possible to sell records.

It was plain to see that the band were serious about what they do and that showed with the pure emotion that came from all of the members, Hayley especially, who was dancing with genuine emotion along with the crowd. The band manifested a breath-taking atmosphere and I would happily see them over and over again.