My annual visit to Sheffield for Tramlines is usually for the entire weekend, but for financial reasons, this year I had to content myself with one day. A quick glance at the line-up made that an easy decision...Sunday and a nice leisurely 4pm start, seeing David J Roch at The Shakespeare and finishing six hours later with The Crookes at the University. Then things began to change...
A couple of fortuitous glances at Twitter on Friday revealed that two of my favourite acts from Tramliines 2013 had secured slots on the mainstage. The addition of The Payroll Union meant that my leisurely 4pm start became a 2:30 start, whilst High Hazels elevation to the main stage left a gaping hole in my evening, as their original slot was obviously cancelled. Opportunities abounded. The only downside was that there was no longer any chance of seeing David J Roch at 4pm, but more of him later...
The Payroll Union's rocking Americana works perfectly on the sun-kissed Devonshire Green and they will certainly have won some new fans here. The Beat engender nostalgia and THAT dance and High Hazels continue their ascendancy. Their forthcoming single, 'Misbehave' sounds like a hit and they announce the release date of their debut album as 27th October.
With some fast walking, I make it to The Shakespeare just in time to catch some of Tomorrow We Sail and will definitely check out more of their reverb soaked majesty. This is the start of the best couple of hours of the day. The crowd peaks as Neil McSweeney rocks up in the stable, with people finding any vantage point possible for his scintillating set. Paul Littlewood (when he can be bothered turning up on stage) proves that Sheffield is blessed by powerful voices. Travelling to Sheffield from Southend and back in a day might sound like a crazy idea, but M G Boulter and his band will do a lot for live music. His solo set in the afternoon is some compensation for me, given that I won't be able to catch his band, The Lucky Strikes at 10pm...
It is with something of a heavy heart that I depart The Shakespeare. The atmosphere is great and there are still some great acts to come, but the University is calling and Tramlines stalwarts, The Hosts. This band have become favourites of mine over the last eight years and they are the main reason that I chose Sunday for my Tramlines fix. They are still on their 'Softly, Softly' lap of honour and rightly so. This is truly a home town celebration for a band who have finally come of age.It is feel-good fun, with my only hope being that there are some new songs by next year's Tramlines.
Decision time, stay where I am, drinking Tetley smooth and watch local heroes The Crookes, who I saw just two months ago when their tour visited Manchester. Or, make the long walk back to The Shakespeare to drink locally brewed cask ale and watch David J Roche, who I have not seen since Tramlines 2013 and The Lucky Strikes. What the hell, walking is good for you, right?
I miss the start of David J Roch, as even my long legs can't achieve the walk in four minutes. However, I am there in time to be reminded of the power in his voice and when brass extraordinaire Duncan Vaughan appears atop a table, the decision to miss The Crookes is justified. Closing band The Lucky Strikes render the debate redundant with a sweat-inducing set that sees the floor of The Shakespeare under severe pressure. Southend's finest combine folk and rock 'n' roll like no others and Sheffield loves them.
In one day, I saw:
The Payroll Union
Tomorrow We Sail
David J Roch
The Lucky Strikes
The one that got away:
Best day at Tramlines ever and hat doffed to Craig and Neil.