Rolo Tomassi

12 April
Picture House Social

The dual-vocal, chord-heavy post hardcore of Sheffield band Elegies and the more aggressive, impassioned snarls of Terrible Love certainly warmed the crowd up nicely for the headliner's homecoming show, but in truth, no comparable band could prepare you for the explosiveness of Rolo Tomassi’s live set.

The band have always stood well apart from the math rock scene that they are usually associated with and there is no better way to experience the breadth of heavy sounds they peddle than in the flesh. Switching on a dime between the blistering blast of grind, the angular riffs of progressive hardcore and the triumphant melodies of post rock, there is never a dull moment.

Frontwoman and co-lead vocalist Eva Spence matches her wild body movements to the ever-changing mood, throwing herself into contortions for every churning breakdown and twisting her arms in the air during emotional choruses. Bassist Nathan Fairweather surveys the crowd with a stony, blank stare for much of the set, looking over his people from the front of the stage with stoic confidence.

At times, the garage-like gig space at Picture House Social swallows up some of the intricacies that Nathan and guitarist Chris Cayford are clearly laying down, their fingers blurs of string-crossing, the specifics of the corresponding sounds lost beneath Spence's ungodly howl and the smashing of the cymbals. But this is a minor complaint, as the nod-defying rhythms still cut through and the overall bewildering nature of the music connects in an infectious way.

With an encore of 2012’s ‘Illuminare’, a track carrying a more ethereal and straightforward weight than much of the set, a feeling of catharsis is palpable in the band and crowd, and the room is filled with nothing but fans by the final chord.

Richard Spencer

LUNAR’S FINAL DISCO ILLUSION

15 APRIL
MOOR THEATRE DELICATESSEN

Beautiful both visually and musically, Lunar’s Final Disco Illusion was a voyage through time and space. Lunar’s favourite talent from years gone by returned for their final space odyssey to the regenerated Woolworths building, a bizarre meeting of DJs, outer space and pick ‘n’ mix.

First up, the outgoing Alexander Nut. Nut has always been an avid promoter of originality in music and a strong presence on social media, where he keenly supports many up-and-coming musicians. Nut initially brought European tech house to the table, followed by a melange of relentless polyrhythmic disco and funk. The Theo Parrish re-edit of 'Never Gonna Let You Go' by Made in the USA got a much-celebrated pull up, and with Gwen McCrae’s 'Keep This Fire Burning' to conclude proceedings, everyone walked away bopping and smiling.

Theatre Deli was the ideal venue for unearthing the underground. The reclaimed Woolworths has been given a new lease of life, not through glitzy aesthetics or brash branding, but because of what it has given a home to: independent theatre productions, workshops, graffiti sessions and alternative music events.    

In a similar way to Theatre Deli’s modest rise to success, Dan Shake has made an impressive name for himself, not founded on sales or media coverage, but because his fans just can’t get enough of what he has produced. Casually scouted by Moodymann and signed to his label, Mahogani Music, Dan Shake has become an expert at working a crowd. His Detroit sound was simple and soulful with a true Mahogani essence.

Despite the possibility of Shake burning out from gig after gig, it seemed as though the adrenalin was only improving his groove. The youthful crowd beamed at his tunes and could not stop moving. It was a sad moment when the night was over and we had to come back down to earth.

Jennifer Martino

Dubcentral Presents Valv-A-Tron

22 April
Yellow Arch

Last month's Dubcentral was about giving tracks from reggae’s golden age and beyond a chance to shine and a space for hundreds to enjoy them. Further complementing this was the Valv-A-Tron sound system itself, a throwback to a time when all sound systems were built using valve technology. It was fitting to hear classic reggae tunes coming from a sound system that was identical to ones that would have played the same songs when they were released in the late 60s and early 70s.

Paul Axis’s track selection was sharp. He maintained a vibe that provided smooth listening, made up of reggae tracks that were ideal for a relaxed and emphatic dance, but Valv-A-Tron is not the most powerful sound system. The powerful, booming sound that’s emitted from other sound systems was less intense with Valv-A-Tron, but Dubcentral’s presence in the smaller side of Yellow Arch provided heavier sounds with varied sets by the likes of Yammi, Mr Meerkat, Fatta, Swami, Shakti, Will Tee, Junglist Alliance and Wheresnorth? that spanned the areas between reggae, dub, ska, drum & bass and jungle. And to add to the feel of the night, there was also the option of Caribbean food from the Cool Runnings Café setup, which added to the authenticity of the music and the event.

Dubcentral’s Presents Valv-A-Tron was a fair addition to the series of reggae-focused nights that have at occurred at Yellow Arch. Although it wasn’t exceptional, it was a smooth and musically-dedicated event that listeners could jam to.

Akeem Balogun

Money

20 April
Harley

Daniel Whitehouse is a familiar face of the Sheffield scene and, on this solo acoustic outing, really starts to come into his own by his third song, the country tinged ‘Broken Light’. An obvious and probably lazy comparison would be Richard Ashcroft, but this is no bad thing, especially as there is distinct lyricism at play to set Daniel apart. In fact, if tonight’s set is anything to go by, the follow up to his debut album, Stories For You, will be a welcome addition to the city’s musical output.

A recorded rainstorm beckons Bernard + Edith, a duo whose initial acapella and 90s beats capture the attention of the growing crowd. This impact is relatively short lived though, as the set descends into Edith’s approximation of a derivative house diva. Even the equipment despairs and packs up.

Money are a slightly perplexing proposition at first glance. Having recently released Suicide Songs, the follow up album to 2013’s The Shadow of Heaven, how they haven’t courted greater attention outside of their native Manchester is a genuine mystery, not least because frontman, Jamie Lee, is an enigmatic and uncompromising bundle of unpredictability.

This mischievousness, perhaps emboldened by growing inebriation, sees Jamie take quickly to the stage without informing the rest of the band, who are accompanied, to magnificent effect, by a violinist and cellist. His trademark soaring vocals, underpinned by this sublime soundtrack, elevate ‘You Look Like A Sad Painting On Both Sides Of The Sky’ and ‘Night Came’ to a level that is breathtaking.

Paradoxically, these songs of love, despair and addiction are punctuated regularly with light-hearted banter and forays away from the stage. Unusually, raucous set closer, ‘A Cocaine Christmas and An Alcoholic New Year’, is not the end of the evening for Jamie and the Harley, as he agrees to continue to take requests in a slightly shambolic but endearing fashion.

Wayne Hoyle