Review: Mallory Knox at The Leadmill

It’s show number five of the Wired Tour. After covering ground around the Midlands/South, from Cardiff to Norwich, Mallory Knox arrive to the tour’s first northern date – Sheffield. The Steel City has done its bit as this was the quickest show to sell out, and the heat in The Leadmill suggests no touts have stolen this one. Only sweaty fans wearing MK tops.

Opening the night is Scottish alt-rockers Fatherson, who are on top form despite playing so early. They play a quick set of hits from both albums, starting with the latter’s title track, ‘Open Book’. Front man Ross Leighton enters the stage and kicks straight in, the others soon follow and by the second track the crowd has grown substantially. To say they’re the opening act the dynamics are tight as ever. The set has a fair balance of intricate melodies and distorted rock, and it is fantastic. The show is off to an impressive start.

Next is Lonely The Brave, a five piece from Cambridge. It’s bloody hot now. It’s considerably louder with this lot, and the reception isn’t far off a headline slot. The first song is ‘Black Mire’ from 2016 album Things Will Matter. Everyone shouts along “What if I said this ain’t the one…” and the good vibes continue. The band finish on ‘The Blue, The Green’ – a track with a really sweet verse line and an epic outro. The night has lost no momentum and everyone piles in up close for the awaited headliners.

Two giant red MKs flash on stage to the intro drum loop of ‘Giving It Up’ – the first track from Wired. The crowd’s screams grow louder as Mallory Knox walk on stage. Once the song properly begins, chaos ensues. Track by track the mosh pits grow bigger, and the set is well-rounded for new fans and all the old-timers. The new album’s title track and ‘Beggars’ from the first album is received with everything you would expect from a rock gig. Following this is ‘Falling in Love’, a beautiful sing-along that isn’t quite hard-rock but does allow the audience to hear front man Mikey Chapman’s amazing vocal. Although afterwards he says “Enough of the sappy shit” and they smash into new tune ‘Lucky Me’. In total there are seven new tracks and eight older ones – something for everyone. Before the last pre-encore song, ‘Saviour’, Mikey discusses how our generation has to pick up the pieces after the likes of Donald Trump ruining the world. An encore gives us two more songs plus Yorkshire Tea bags hurled into the audience as the band’s response to our “Yorkshire” chants.

An incredible line-up. A wonderful crowd. Who said rock is dead?

 

Words by Josh Levin

Tramlines 2017 artist preview

The Tramlines Festival is an annual music festival which takes place right here in the heart of Sheffield in venues such as the O2 Academy, Devonshire Green and The Ponderosa. It is an event which combines all forms and genres of music and this year will be held from Friday 21st– Sunday 23rd July. With so many amazing acts taking to the stage, here are just a few of the headliners.

The Libertines:

Formed in London in 1997, The Libertines first gained notoriety in the early 2000’s by spearheading the garage rock revival movement in the UK. Their 2004 self-titled album went to number one and sold over 70,000 copies in its first week producing top ten singles such as “Can’t Stand Me Now” and “What Becomes the Likely Lads.” The band’s debut single “What a Waster” led NME to name them as best new band in Britain.

The indie garage band continued success throughout the 2000’s headlining multiple festivals such as Leeds and Reading in 2010. They most recently released their third studio album Anthems for Doomed Youth which gave the band their second top ten album.

 

All Saints:

All-Saints burst on to the music scene in the mid 90’s as a part of the new girl group wave kicked off by the Spice Girls. Whilst most girl groups focus on girl power and pop anthems, the All-Saints stayed true to their roots in the R&B genre. Their 1997 debut album went to number one and landed the girls three number one singles on the UK charts, including songs such as “Never Ever” and “Under the Bridge”. This led to the band becoming five times Platinum in the UK and Platinum in the US.

The band reunited in 2006 and began working on new material under a new label. The band released their third album which became a huge success selling nearly 60,000 copies and producing another top ten single “Rock Steady”. After this All-Saints chose to go on hiatus before reforming in 2014 supporting the Backstreet Boys and releasing a newer sound for the band in the form of dance-pop track “One Strike” which was released early last year. This was soon followed by their latest self-managed album Red Track.

 

Metronomy:

Mercury Prize nominated Metronomy have been creatively blending rock and electronic music for nearly twenty years now and have been working as a quartet for nearly five following the introduction of bassist Gbenga Adelekan and drummer Anna Prior. The Devonshire natives have recently sold out the Royal Albert Hall and toured both North America and Europe following the success of their album “Love Letters” which earned the band their first top ten album in the UK and an NME Award nomination..

The band take inspiration from a variety of genres including artists such as the Supremes, the Zombies and the White Stripes, giving them a highly unique sound which is individual to them as artists.

The bands most recent album Summer 08 reflects on their twenties and the nights out era of their lives. Produced in Paris over the course of a summer, the album adds a funky melody to interesting lyricy and featured collaborations with the likes of Robyn and Erol Alkan. With the album’s release in July 2016 the band solidified themselves within the music industry earning recognition across Europe.

Outlines Festival 2017: Saturday’s Top Three

Day 2 of Outlines Festival 2017 got underway on Saturday 4th March, and it promised to be a big one! Here’s my top three.

Jagwar Ma

And so, to The Leadmill came the Australian the indie-house hybrid phenomenon, and Outlines 2017 headliners, Jagwar Ma. The demand for the trio saw The Leadmill at capacity to watch them close the festival with their unique, genre-bending tunes.

Impossible to stand still to the infectious beats being pumped out, Jagwar Ma soon had the entirety of The Leadmill bouncing and, I imagine, the street outside too. If there was a high level of energy throughout the weekend, it was raised further still before it was rounded out – a feat only achievable by a band of this caliber. A fitting end to a wonderful weekend of music.

Lady Leshurr

Queen of the grime scene, Lady Leshurr, took to the Plug stage Saturday night to meet her adoring public. The Birmingham native guided the Sheffield faithful through an unrelenting set bereft of a dull moment.

Warning the crowd her sets were like workouts, the MC delivered. With help from her backup dancers, the crowd were led through a variety of routines, ranging from the mannequin challenge to mosh pits, all set to her whip-smart bars. One of the most enjoyable performances over the whole of the weekend, Lady Leshurr left everyone a little healthier and, crucially, with a smile on their faces.

Trash

“Festivals are shit!” exclaimed Trash front man, Dan Longmore, upon hearing the band had reached the end of their allotted time. The short pause swiftly ended when the Chesterfield four-piece continued their set, much to the delight of the Plug crowd – and to the dismay of the of the sound engineer.

Those in attendance were fully immersed by Trash’s smooth indie-pop melodies, which gave life to jubilant mosh pits. By far one of the most fun performances over the course of the weekend, Trash were a band who manged to capture the spirit of Outlines.

 

Words by Ryan Newsam

Outlines Festival 2017: Friday’s Top Three

Outlines Festival 2017 got underway on Friday 3rd March with a bang. Here’s my top three of Day 1.

The Wytches

Casting a curse over the capacity crowd at The Harley was Brighton quartet, The Wytches. Polar opposites of Friday’s headline band, Slow Club, playing on the other side of the city, the grunge rockers conjured an unrelenting performance within the claustrophobic surroundings of the venue. With mosh pits and spilled drinks to compliment, this wasn’t one for the faint of heart.

Soon after The Wytches took to the small, dimly lit stage, the crowd was transformed into a swelling mass, bouncing and moving as one to the jarring riffs. With an unfaltering edge to their performance, the intensity and energy generated by the music was mirrored in the atmosphere. The show-stealer of a performance was more than fitting end to the first day of Outlines Festival 2017.

The Crookes

Despite the rain pouring outside, there was nothing that could dampen the enthusiasm for what was to come: The Crookes. The illustrious Sheffield quartet was set to take over The Leadmill with their vibrant brand of buoyant indie music, and the anticipation was palpable. Greeted by the warmest of welcomes when they took to the stage, the returning heroes treated Sheffield to a set no one wanted to end.

Gorgeous crooning vocals set against a backdrop of effervescent music dripping with euphoria was a combination that instantly captivated the entire crowd. Jubilant mosh pits were quick to form and didn’t stop; prompting front man, George Waite, to exclaim his disbelief that ‘Roman Candle’ sustained a pit. The set, and the atmosphere it created, not only drove away the rain, but captured the spirit of Outlines, leaving everyone wanting more.

The Seamonsters

Being the first band to perform at any festival is no easy feat, yet The Seamonsters made it look effortless. The all-female, Sheffield-based, indie band assured everyone their set would be a glittery one, and they didn’t disappoint.

Glitter adorning the faces of all six members, they captivated all in attendance with gloriously bright vocals juxtaposed against tight riffs. A set that truly got us in the mood for Outlines and all the music that would follow.

 

Words by Ryan Newsam

 

Preview: Outlines Festival 2017

Outlines Festival is just two weeks away! The second running of Tramlines’ winter-counterpart takes place on 3rd and 4th of March 2017. The line-up features acts both local and afar; renowned and recently found. With Sheffield venues The Leadmill, The Harley and Plug also confirmed for the event, it’s sure to be a lovely pick-me-up during the cold mid-semester period. Here’s who I’ll be seeing…

 

Jagwar Ma

Headlining the bill, flying all the way from Sydney, Australia to greet us with their psychedelic powers, it’s a no-brainer to see Jagwar Ma. Promoting recent album Every Now and Then, they’re sure to deliver a set filled with highlights including single ‘Slipping’ as well as older numbers like ‘Man I Need’. It’s no surprise that whilst on the rise Jagwar Ma supported legends like Tame Impala and The xx, and now with their platform at its current peak, a psychedelic party in the Steel City awaits.

 

Slow Club

Part of Sheffield music scene for over 10 years, with a 2016 album under their belts as well as an imminent sold out three-night residency at Yellow Arch – Slow Club are back. The ‘anti-folk’ duo played a wonderful slot on the Exposed Magazine stage at Tramlines 2015 and I’m sure their Outlines debut will be no different – except for having more great tunes to create a set from. Beautiful harmonies and euphoric vibes – there will be ‘Tears Of Joy’ all around.

 

Lady Leshurr

‘Queen’s Speech Ep.4’, uploaded to Youtube one year ago, has now reached over 38 million views – another example of the increasing popularity and success of grime music. Lady Leshurr makes music with a unique rap style, hilarious wordplay but serious skill. Her tunes are built for a live setting, including most recent single featuring Wiley, ‘Where Are You Now?’ which attacks those who “leave the scene” after a bit of achievement in the music industry. Judging from her rapidly growing success, she’ll be having little time for leisure in the coming years.

 

Clean Cut Kid

 After a year of touring the UK supporting acts like Shura, Fickle Friends and Circa Waves, Liverpool indie-pop quartet are discovering their own recognition. Having headline status at October metropolitan festivals Neighbourhood (Manchester) and Twisterella (Middlesbourgh) as well as near-enough selling out a current tour, Clean Cut Kid are smashing it. The We Used To Be In Love EP pulls on your heartstrings, whilst single ‘Make Believe’ lifts you up into a dreamy world of fun.

 

The Crookes

 When playing to a huge crowd at Sheffield O2 Academy for Tramlines 2016, this indie-rock four-piece told us they had played Tramlines every year, at pretty much every stage, so this was clearly a pinnacle moment for them. No signs of taking a long break then as The Crookes are now high up on the Outlines 2017 line-up. They have been compared to Vampire Weekend and The Smiths previously but there’s more to this band than just an indie label – ‘The World Is Waiting’ carries 2 minutes and 46 seconds of euphoria with an explosive chorus, enjoyed both live and on record. They supported Catfish and the Bottlemen earlier this year, and evidently they’ve got their own festival headliner status envisaged.

Making arrangements for the inevitable end

Stuck in the past

My beloved iPod Classic. I’ve been attached to it since finding it under the Christmas tree back in 2010, when I was just 16-years-old. In the time since, it’s been by my side whether I’ve been travelling the world or walking city streets; through ups and downs; big changes and small adjustments. And despite having 680 albums (or 7,586 songs) in my iTunes library, it’s barely halfway towards its maximum capacity – I doubt if I’ll ever manage fill it.

I don’t doubt that I’ll ever fill because I’ll never own enough music, although that is a distinct possibility, but more because I’m coming to the realisation that it can’t possibly last forever. Even though I take care of it (not as well as I have in the past to my discredit) I realise that its 160GB hard drive will eventually fail. With it being a case of ‘till death do us part’ between my iPod and myself, I fully intend to use it until the day it departs me. Yet, in the past month, I’ve been making arrangements for the inevitable end of our connection.

This past Christmas, I bought myself an iPhone 7 with little intention of using it to fulfil my musical needs. Almost exactly a month after owning it however, I somehow found myself compelled to use it for just such a purpose. Perhaps it was the lack of the age-old 3.5mm headphone jack which toyed with my curiosity – a curiosity which needed to be satiated the more time passed. And so, I gave in and bought myself some lightning headphones and began my 3-month trial of Apple Music.

A rocky start

For someone who’s owned three different iPods, including my Classic, since 2006 (a second generation Nano and a first generation Touch if you’re interested), streaming music to my iPhone was an entirely new experience. Having been so familiar with my entire library being at my fingertips, switching to having none of my own music on my device was a learning curve. I could still access most of the music in my library simply by searching for it within Apple Music, but this largely required remembering it – not an easy task with over 7,500 songs to my name.

Only music I have bought through iTunes is visible in Apple Music, and it goes without saying that not all of my library has been bought this way. I’ve purchased music through Amazon and Google Play but, just like every other millennial, the vast majority of my library has come through CDs. By and large, it’s not an arduous task to remember the music I’ve been listening to recently. The problem arises because I can’t scroll through my entire library and have an obscure song or an album that I added years ago take my fancy. Not off to a great start.

A more pressing issue was the vast difference in storage between my 32GB iPhone and my 160GB iPod. It meant that I couldn’t even come close to having my entire library on my iPhone, which otherwise would have negated having to remember my library. The smaller capacity also means I’m limited to what I download onto my iPhone, which is only an issue when I’m travelling but, given the quantity available on Apple Music, being selective isn’t an easy task. My way around it has been to download the service’s curated playlists – something I’ll touch upon later.

Learning to adapt

The more I played with Apple Music, the more fond of it I became. I began to realise the inherent advantages of the service. Gradually, my early negative impressions were outweighed. For most people, the main advantage of the service is being able to access almost all of the music in world with just a few taps – not for me. What I have been in adoration of is the service’s vast number of curated playlists. For a music lover like myself, it’s a phenomenal way to discover new artists, set the mood or just listen to collection of classic songs. My current favourite is Living in the Library, a gorgeous mix of invigorating electronic-indie songs.

That’s not to say that I don’t appreciate having millions of songs just a few taps away. The service has enabled me to visit albums I missed when they were first released and check out music I otherwise wouldn’t buy. As a result, I’m currently obsessed with Tame Impala’s Currents and was able to give Wiley’s Godfather a listen. From a more professional point of view, being able to listen to the music of bands who I’ll be reviewing is invaluable. It certainly proved its worth for my review of BlackWaters and Strange Bones.

The future?

Streaming services, such as Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal are the future. For music consumers and artists alike, streaming seems like the best possible direction for the music industry. The consumer gets to experience listening to a seemingly infinite number albums for a monthly fee. Meanwhile, artists can receive greater exposure and are encouraged to take greater risks to stand out. Going back to the curated playlists on Apple Music, and in particular Living in the Library, I’ve been exposed some incredible artists I’d never heard of and would not have listened to otherwise.

To say that this service is only £4.99 a month for students is reason enough to continue my subscription after my trial expires. Even at the standard price of £9.99 a month, it’s still only the price of a new album.

As for my beloved iPod, I’ll continue to use it. For as long as I continue to build my iTunes library, it will remain irreplaceable. Planning for its inevitable end isn’t such a bad thing though. Perhaps it will increase the longevity of my iPod – it’s far safer on my stereo than rattling around my pocket or my bag every day of the week. As for said stereo, I’ve recently discovered dongles which, via its 30 pin connection, will enable it to receive bluetooth. Who needs a shiny, new bluetooth speaker?

As I’ve just made clear, I am still slightly stuck in the past – perhaps its a sign that I’m growing older. Nevertheless, I’m making baby steps towards the future of music and, for the most part, I’m embracing the change.

 

Words by Ryan Newsam

Preview: The Pigeon Detectives at The Leadmill

When I think of The Pigeon Detectives, I can’t help but be thrown back to my secondary school years where the Leeds band formed part of my indie rock soundtrack – I even had Matt Bowman-esque hair to accompany it! Given that, it comes as no surprise that their first two studio albums, Wait for Me (2007) and Emergency (2008), are still firmly on my iPod and I can belt out a rendition of ‘This is an Emergency’ when prompted.

Admittedly, I never listened to their third or fourth albums, which came out in 2011 and 2013 respectively, and likewise my curly locks are no longer with me. Yet despite this, listening to the singles from their upcoming album, Broken Glances, suggests that in those years I missed they’ve had somewhat of a departure from the earlier work.

Describing the album, front man Matt Bowman said it will be “an ode to everyone that’s ever bought an album or turned up to a show.” It’s not hard to hear this shine through on the track ‘Lose Control’, a song which, upon first listen, will take you back to those late-noughties days. Take another listen and there’s a certain reflective element about it however. With a decade since their first album firmly under their belt, you can hear the journey they’ve been on coming through on this track’s lyrics.

The two singles which showcase the progression of the band are incidentally also my personal favourites. Both ‘Enemy Lines’ and ‘Wolves’ lyrically and sonically show their advancement as musicians, and highlight their capability to create beautifully moody, indie masterpieces. These tracks alone have convinced me to give The Pigeon Detectives another go once Broken Glances drops on February 24th – and you should too!

The Pigeon Detectives play The Leadmill on 7th March – tickets available here.

 

Words by Ryan Newsam

Review: BlackWaters and Strange Bones at The Leadmill

On the penultimate night of BlackWaters and Strange Bones co-headline tour, the two groups rocked an icy cold Steel City. With support from Bear Chest and Black Mamba Fever, this stacked show went a good way in proving that punk’s not dead – far from it, in fact.

The night got underway with the first support act, hometown boys Black Mamba Fever. Although seemingly not the most confident when talking to the crowd between songs, they were a completely different animal during them. None more so was this the case than for front man Louis Ashman, who became an unstoppable ball of human energy throughout songs, often ending up in a variety of places during their climax.

It’s really hard to take anything away from these guys: raucous, energetic and fun throughout. An impressive hometown showing which really did warm the crowd up, even despite the snow falling outside.

Second on the bill were Bear Chest – another band from here in the Steel City. This three piece really stood apart from the other three, with more of an old-school, heavy rock sound. The unadulterated, punchy riffs were a throwback to the 1970s, making it difficult to not draw comparisons to the likes of Black Sabbath. Their more serious demeanor on stage was in stark contrast to that of Black Mamba Fever, but it didn’t take away from their performance.

The trio put an grizzly, unflinching set which showcased not only their strengths but, more importantly, their potential.

First of the co-headliners to emerge on stage was the Blackpool rebels Strange Bones who knew exactly how to make a first impression. With their front man, Bob, clad in a t-shirt which read “Theresa is a terrorist” ushering the crowd forward through his megaphone, a tone was briskly set for what was to come.

Raw, unfiltered punk rock quickly followed. Within moments, the Strange Bones front man was in the crowd, belting out songs and trying to stoke an uprising against the Tories, the Queen and the establishment. This set was more than just a rude awakening for those sheepishly stood towards the back of the venue, it put anyone within the vicinity of The Leadmill on notice.

Regardless of your politics, it’s bands who have the same vigour as Strange Bones who are trying to pull rock’n’roll back to a time when politics was the norm for lyrical content. And whether you agree with it or not, it’s refreshing to see a band wear their heart on their sleeve and stand for something. Besides, the crowd at The Leadmill absolutely ate it up.

Lastly, top of the bill was BlackWaters. Pitched somewhere between Slaves and The Libertines, this young, Guildford-based quartet had a lot to live up to in following the carnage Strange Bones had just unleashed on the Steel City.

BlackWaters offered up an unrelenting, all-out assault, delivered with precision and passion to The Leadmill crowd. The band’s 1970s and 80s punk rock influence was clear from the off, but likewise was their own spin on the genre. It’s obvious that they’ve worked with Carl Barât of The Libertines, for example, but also that they aren’t afraid to experiment with different sounds.

Truth be told, I think their place on the bill did hurt them slightly. Strange Bones would have been a hard act to follow for almost anyone, especially when the crowd had heard three different bands by that point. But nevertheless, BlackWaters’ performance was bold and quite spectacular for such a young band.

Youth is clearly not a hindrance to BlackWaters, which only means they have time to keep developing and become something even greater than what they are now. Remember their name, you may be coming very familiar with them soon.

 

Words by Ryan Newsam

 

Preview: RedFaces at Queens Social Club

The amount of amazing music from Sheffield at the moment is astonishing. A city with so many artists you would think it’s all about competition and fighting to be in the spotlight. But it’s not! Like many other aspects of Sheffield’s creative hub, everyone has a chance. However some gigs end up more important than others. Like that time when Arctic Monkeys played at The Leadmill and they ended up playing to the whole street, or the recent reopening of The Washington with an appearance from Jarvis Cocker, there’s the odd “I was there” gig. Or if you’re not quick enough, “I wish I was there”

The next show in the Steel City that may steal the show is another homecoming gig from RedFaces, at the almighty Queens Social Club. The Indie Rock four-piece are making waves with recent release ‘Kerosene’, a fun and rowdy track on the topic of newness that benefits from an intense bass phaser.

Despite the band’s youth (the band itself and the lads’ ages!) they have a signing with RCA, nearly 20,000 views on Kerosene in under a month, and currently an extensive UK tour. A few weeks back the tour came to Sheffield for a sell-out show at Yellow Arch, and after Queens Social Club we may not be greeted with a return so quickly.

In other words, nobody likes missing out. Yet everybody likes to jump on the bandwagon about being there before an act gets “too big”. Don’t wish. Do your bit and buy a ticket!

 

Words by Josh Levin

Review: Bullet For My Valentine at O2 Academy Sheffield

Bullet For My Valentine have been taking their metalcore/hard rock around the world for over 10 years, playing venues of all sizes. Renowned for their ultimate riffs, double-bass drum glory, incredible solos and front man Matt Tuck’s changing hairstyle. And it all started from their debut album, ‘The Poison’, released in 2005. So really it’s no surprise that on select dates of this tour, rather than filling their set with tracks from less successful albums, audiences are pleasured with hearing their debut. In full. Start to finish. And a few extras afterwards of course…

The crowd aren’t a particular demographic – clearly this album has hit a wave of ages since its release. The band walk on stage to appropriately-titled ‘Intro’ in white shirts and ties: the clothes they wear in the music video for new single ‘Don’t Need You’, tactfully released just before the UK leg. Once Matt screams the start of ‘Her Voice Resides’, the show has truly begun. A fascinating light show complements the mayhem of the music. Impressively it sounds it does on record but louder, obviously. To say there’s a fill-in drummer on this tour (pun intended) plus a new bassist, extra credit where it’s due.

Three songs in, before starting ‘Tears Don’t Fall’ which BFMV usually play in encores, Tuck tells us the album was already doing great but that “this sucker” really did it for them (modest). It’s a massive sing-along and there’s clearly a lot of love in the crowd. Well. As far as love goes in a circle pit…

Hits like ‘All These Things…’ and great album tracks such as ‘Room 409’ resonate wonderfully. The show really has energy throughout and you can tell the band love reminiscing in the old stuff. Ending on ‘The End’ (Ha! I think they’re onto something…), we’re already expecting more as Tuck has told us they’ll return after “a little break”. A very short break and we hear the intro to recent album, ‘Venom’. The band celebrate post-The Poison hits in reverse, playing ‘No Way Out’, ‘Your Betrayal’ and ‘Waking The Demon’. A final encore delivers ‘Don’t Need You’, concluding a strong, fun and nostalgic show.

 

Words by Josh Levin