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A Magazine for Sheffield

Abe / Night Train / Folk Forest vs Wordlife / King Mojo 6th Birthday.

7th APRIL.


The Sheffield-based collective Abe sum up their music in five words - textural, under-produced, whirring, hypnotic and tropical. Abe is made up of brothers Tom and Oli Rogers and Matt Clubbs Coldron, who they have known since they were kids. Their music is a combination of samples and live experimentation, all altered and put into a new context to create new meaning.

I spoke to the band before their sound check. It was refreshing to see that these guys don't take themselves too seriously, yet performing live is something they are very serious about.

The set up on stage consists of each member being hooked up to a laptop to trigger samples. Tom is not your average drummer because there is no drum kit. Instead he is accompanied by a Roland Octapad percussion controller, a floor tom, a cymbal and a midi keyboard to create beats. Oli plays samples and adds acoustics to tracks with the use of live percussion. Matt plays piano chords whilst his vocals are intertwined among the layers of sound each member is individually creating. Each track often has a hidden process behind it and together they see themselves as a band rather than producers. It is clear from their performance that they place a lot of importance on putting on a show.

When I spoke to them they said 'Danaë' was their favourite to play live. With its yearning vocals and big beats, it has the workings of being the 'pop' song on their eponymous EP.

This band have many layers that they bring to life during their performance. Nothing is lost among the samples, sound effects and loops, reflecting Abe's care and craftsmanship. Intros, interludes and alterations help to mix things up a little during the live set and add to the material presented on the EP. Although Abe owe a considerable debt to such greats as Prince, Animal Collective and Tom Krell, their music is completely their own.


13th April.

Reviewer - Lewis Pendleton.

To call this the most sharply dressed night in Sheffield would not be to damn it with faint praise. This writer would wager that the standards of male grooming in this monthly appreciation of motown, northern soul and 1960s R&B are unrivalled in this city. And while it is a fine sight to see so many peacocks in one place, you would be hard pushed to find a poser amongst them. Pretence and affectation have no place here and that is what makes this relatively new addition to Sheffield's nightlife so refreshing. It is just a roomful of friendly faces genuinely enjoying some of the most exciting music ever made.

Brought to a grateful city by the fellas behind the Okeh Café on Abbeydale Road - if you haven't been there yet, the lasagne alone is worth the trip - Night Train is normally on the second Saturday of every month at one of our most charismatic little venues and is routinely opened by the six-piece Soul Faces, who ably warm the assembled feathercuts up for a few hours of swerving and spinning like it's 1965.

This third Night Train, however, had to be brought forward a day at short notice from its well-publicised established slot, much to the chagrin of organiser and all-round lovely bloke Russ, especially as this ruled out any live accompaniment. But even a rainy Friday the 13th couldn't stop Penelope's being packed with assorted mods, soulgirls and smoothies doing the Skinhead Moonstomp.

Soundtracked by the likes of Booker T, Sam Cooke, The Who and Desmond Dekker, this is about as authentic an experience of those long-gone days of the Twisted Wheel and Wigan Casino all-nighters as you will find. A testament to Russ and co's success in re-creating those heady times is the number of silvering zoot suited Ace Faces present, each no doubt with stories of purple hearts and rocker-bashing with which to regale the fresher-faced generations who have discovered this ageless music. And therein lies its charm; young and not-so-young in some of the shiniest brogues ever seen, just having a good time to good music. Get on the Night Train.


21st April.
the riverside.

Reviewer - jack unsworth.

Saturday's gig at the Riverside, organised by the Regather trade co-op, was a giddy blend of diverse elements. With music downstairs and poetry up, it had a lot going on.

The first musical act on was Joe Banfi, whose songwriting skill and delivery are formidable, even more so when backed so lusciously by Ben Eckersley on cello. Together they had captured their emotions and built them up impressively for the audience, taking seemingly simple ideas through giant steps into something sincerely moving. Well worth seeing again.

The strange and unusual Louis Barabbas followed, playing solo without his usual cohort, The Bedlam Six. His stage presence was fiery and theatrical. He jumped about on stage and sometimes from the stage to the crowd, guitar lead in tow, pulling off some of the greatest high kicks I have ever seen while still playing the guitar. His songs seemed dark yet candid and insightful, despite the unreal, avant-garde storytelling in each song. Other people there tell me that I once saw his whole band at a festival. I have never had such a good reason to curse my festival amnesia before.

By some happy serendipity, an audience member had brought a dog to the gig, and the dog found Barabbas's somewhat expressive voice either terrifying or antagonising. It began to bark at the singer just in time for a song that is - that's right - about a dog. 'No, you don't come in until verse two,' replied Barabbas, not missing a beat, showing me the finest piece of inter-species audience participation that I have ever seen. I never found out the name of the dog, but I predict great things.

Maybe Myrtle Tyrtle followed, albeit without their brass section, with a blend of so many genres that it seemed hard to grasp. There were a few points where it seemed that they were playing something inspired by Blur's Parklife album, but then the song would go into a bland 'fast bit' that just seemed like sped up Americana with an annoying punk rock beat. At other times there were guitar solos that sounded sweet like Santana, before going bland-fast again. But the crowd seemed to love their raucous energy, so they must have been pressing some people's buttons.

I'd like to have seen more of the upstairs events, but despite efforts to prevent the two rooms from overlapping, I did end up missing some things upstairs that I'd wanted to see, although that was partly due to the weight of the crowd that I had to wade through. However, I did catch some local poetry, including Sarah Thomasin reading some poems from her ambitious endeavour to write 100 poems in 100 different styles in 100 days. An impressive feat.


28th April.
Red House.

Reviewer - Jack Unsworth.

It was the King Mojo Collective's 6th birthday and the Red House's 6th year since renovation, so a pretty good excuse for a knees up. Not that we all need to wait for such excuses, but still...

Support was from Leeds-based Klezmer band Tantz. They were led by a fiddle player whose contributions electrified the crowd, playing melodies both precise and passionate as the tempo moved from slow and sensual to foot stompingly quick. The guitarist seemed to take his solos from a wider source, with some flamenco and jazz coming through, while the bass and drums, holding everything down with shocking accuracy, would then go wild with flare and style. Towards the end, Tantz brought a fifth member on stage who added samples in a way that made the sound yet more full without losing any of the initial charm, adding a modern thrust to a traditional style of music, which somehow worked very well indeed. I definitely want to see this band again and I would recommend them to anyone who like fiddlers, jazz, klezmer, dancing and good times.

K.O.G. and the Allstar Revolution were up next and they too were an excellent choice of band, playing lively afrobeat and soulful reggae with a funky twist. Front man K.O.G is a showman who can caddishly bring a room to life, backed by a full band and a chorus of supporting singers who compliment the sound massively. Their lyrics were optimistic and uplifting and they made a very impressive swell in the party mood. My only complaint is just how much the band was all about the front man. I bet that all the musicians could have stepped forwards and had their own moments in the spotlight, playing heartfelt solos of their own. But they were tight, they were polished and they were everything they set out to be - a really good band for a party.

The night carried on with DJs and drinks and lots and lots of dancing and I decided to actually unleash some of my own dance moves on the general public, which must be saying something about the atmosphere. The crowd were brilliant, the bar staff were ace, the bands rocked, and we all had a lovely time.


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