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A Magazine for Sheffield

Che Ga Zebra / Richard Hawley / Tramlines Highlights.

26th June.
Audacious Art Space.

Reviewer – Rob Aldam.

Audacious Art Space is one of the lesser known jewels in the Sheffield music scene. The Audacious Art Experiment are a not-for-profit art collective and record label who recently celebrated their tenth birthday. The venue itself is run as a community space and is a creative hub for local talent, putting on at least one gig every week in collaboration with local promoters. Tonight is a fundraiser for the space and features a showcase of some of the diverse talent Sheffield has to offer.

Opening proceedings are The Skipping Forecast. Sophia and Luke have the kind of easy chemistry that makes a duo stand out. Sophia is a familiar face from The Mother Folkers and she’s expanded her excellent solo material with this new venture. The highlights are a cover of Mark Lanegan and Isobel Campbell’s ‘Rambling Man’ and a beautiful rendition of ‘Swagger’.

Toucans have been making interesting noises for a while now. Adam has been sporadically prolific in his bedroom fiddling, and now joined by Lisa and Ben they produce music which, whilst grounded in a classic American sound, is suffused with modern experimentation. What would in essence be a deep acoustic sound is augmented by heavy vocal reverb, creating an off-kilter freak folk aesthetic. They have great potential and are perpetually evolving musically. It would be erroneous to even attempt to pigeonhole them.

Jim Ghedi is a familiar name around these parts. Whether as part of the Purgatory Players or performing solo, he’s renowned for his ability to delve into myriad musical styles. Tonight he is accompanied on vocals by Devon, but this is truly Jim’s show. It’s one of the best gigs I’ve seen him play and he seems completely relaxed and comfortable on stage. Jim isn’t one to rush his music, and some of the audience decide to take a seat to listen intently, enchanted by his magical spell. He is a musical explorer, searching the world for new influences and inspiration, throwing in a reading for good measure.

Che Ga Zebra are headlining tonight and the duo are in the mood to party. Gearing up for the release of their new EP What Girls Want (reviewed here), Loic and Ben (half of Wooderson) really go for it. Their music is intricate yet packs a punch; sporadic noise rock combined with more introspective moments. ‘Beach Bum’ is the song that instantly catches your ear; what the Beach Boys may have sounded like if they’d come from Cleethorpes. Their set is interrupted for a raffle draw, but tonight isn’t just about fundraising. They round off an impressive showcase of what real Sheffield music has to offer and it’s another great night down at Audacious.


13th July.
Graves Park.

Reviewer – Jordan Lee Smith.

The last time Richard Hawley played Sheffield he did so in the iconic but conventional City Hall. Tonight his homecoming has an altogether different vibe, due largely to its venue, a blue carnivalesque big top, complete with tacky fairy lights and a (very tempting) Bradfield Brewery sponsorship deal. Positioned on the large sloping lawn between the cafe and duck pond in Grave’s Park, the tent is guaranteed to draw the biggest crowds here since the glory days of the Sheffield Show.

After a slightly underwhelming set from try-hard Boatman’s Call-era Nick Cave wannabe Tom Hickox, Hawley and his band appear on stage amidst a crackling pre-sat-nav taxi radio urgently calling out “Graves Park, anyone?”, and slide into a brooding rendition of latest album title track ‘Standing at the Sky’s Edge’, the perfect moodsetter for what’s to follow. As the sun falls behind the trees of Cobnar Wood, it’s hard to imagine a more fitting location to hear the beautifully yearning ‘Seek It’, or the cigarette-stained wistfulness of ‘Tonight The Streets Are Ours’. While much of the setlist is drawn from his later career there’s an undeniable atmosphere of reminiscence beaming back and forth between the stage and the audience, which seems to have put Dicky in noticeable high spirits.

Crowds are not only treated to countless romantic tales of the city, random interjections like ”Thank God I’m from fucking Sheffield” and a Jarvis-indebted rallying cry for a socialist revolution - there’s also rare double-bass accompanied renditions of ‘Serious’ and ‘Rockabilly Radio’, serving as a real adrenaline shot to anyone drifting into a hypnotised lull following a particularly magical rendition of ‘Open Up Your Door’.

Indeed there are a couple of overlong instrumental outros (‘Down in the Woods’ and ‘The Ocean’ are undeniably victims) that get the crowd shuffling their feet irritably, and an impromptu departing yell of “Up the Owls” was never going to please everyone in such a passionate audience, but Hawley inevitably and deservedly triumphs here - although whether the rare breeds in Graves Park farm would agree is a different matter…


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