Blood Sport

9 December
Leadmill

The shock announcement that Sheffield’s Blood Sport would play one final show before disbanding was met with disbelief. For a band that seem to be in a state of perpetual creative motion, it felt somehow unnatural for them to ever stop, let alone now, while they’re on such blistering form.

Over their seven-year lifespan, Blood Sport have blended guitar-driven post-punk experimentation with electronic dance and techno to create genre-defying sounds, winning fans across the musical spectrum. The addition of a drum machine to accompany their complex polyrhythmic live drumming, and the discarding of gaps between songs, has led to live shows that capture the journeying progression and ocean-deep immersion of a DJ set, while retaining all the frantic energy and punky noise of a live band.

After a set of eclectic and brilliant support acts – dark ambient techno from Isis Moray, seventies-style stoner-fuzz-meets-dreamy-synth rock from LOGS, and shadowy electro from EŞYA – Blood Sport take the stage to a packed room full of fans, promoters and musicians from Sheffield’s underground scene.

There’s little discussion or ceremony. The drum machine is booted up and Nick Potter, Alex Keegan and Sam Parkin take us on one last mesmerising journey. It’s an incredible final performance from a band in complete command of the unique sound they’ve developed.

The heady heights of the evening are matched only by the forlorn sense that a unique band is leaving us. For anyone who never saw Blood Sport live, it may sound derisive to say their last show was like any of their others. Everyone else will understand. For a band this reliably brilliant and unanimously respected, it’s nothing short of glowing praise.

Joe Ashe

Moulettes

14 December
The Greystones

A pre-Christmas tour by this infectious collection of talented individuals was just what was needed to warm the soul on a cold winter night, with the setting of The Greystones quite apt for what felt like a mini festival.

The night started with the multi-talented Moulettes vocalist and guitar player Raevennan Husbandes, this time armed with acoustic guitar to deliver a collection of three songs. The most striking thing about her set was how eerily quiet it was in the venue, as a full room listened intently to sublimely strummed chords and incredibly soothing vocals that washed over everyone. It was a testament to the quality of Husbandes’ artistry, who herself noted how quiet the audience were.

We were also treated to local songwriter Avital Raz, who started with a bittersweet and at times dark selection of songs, before her mischievous side took over and she tackled every taboo she could in the space of a few tracks. The Jerusalem-born singer covered anal sex, the peace process and prostitution within a few minutes, all with brilliant comic and musical timing.

At this point we could have expected Moulettes to be an anticlimax, as the warm-ups had been so good. It turned out they were just the starters, as the foursome led by Hannah Miller and Husbandes combined in perfect harmony to deliver an incredible set, underpinned by tracks from their 2016 album, Preternatural.

The group took the audience on a journey that was immersed in lush atmospheric sounds, topped off by a polished performance that often engaged with the crowd. It’s been 15 years since Moulettes formed and six since I first saw them play at Standon Calling. Without doubt they’re a true evolutionary force that encompass art, performance and music, and we need more like them.

Andy Tattersall

Skream

1 December
Code

Skream’s Open To Close tour was born out of his desire to play as much of the music he enjoys as possible over several hours. As the name of the tour implies, he played from when the venue opened its doors to when it shut, an opportunity for the DJ and producer to showcase the music that he’s amassed over the months prior to the tour.

Skream isn’t like most DJs. Not only because of his status as one of the forefathers of dubstep, but also because of his palpable love for music and specifically the lengths he goes to to share as much of it with as many people as possible. Open To Close delivered as advertised. Skream brought house, disco and techno, as well as other subgenres within the four-to-the-floor arena that aren’t as easily defined but fitted well within his set, which as well as being progressive in tempo also reflected the energy of the dancefloor. It felt like a marathon that got faster and faster as the night went on. His track selection and stamina were impressive, as well as his technical ability as a DJ, and it was unreal to see him perform for so long without ever making an error or appearing fatigued.

Open To Close wasn’t dissimilar to events where multiple DJs play similar music, but Skream created the sort of consistency that often isn’t found in those other nights. With him on the decks all night, everyone at Code knew that for the next few hours their night was in more than capable hands, and that the DJ playing was having just as much fun as everyone else.

Akeem Balogun