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Cool Beans / STI / Saint Etienne / Peter Hook

by Now Then Sheffield

4th May.
Sheffield Students' Union.

Reviewer - Ebony Nembhard.

Beginning life as a freeform club night at the Raynor Lounge back in October 2010, Cool Beans have since hosted acts from throughout the country in the form of DJs, comedy, live art and performance. The event aims, in the words of organiser Chris Arnold, to 'play music that you might not usually hear in a club'.

Resident DJ and alter-ego of the brains behind the event Arnivore eased the crowd into the flow of the night, followed by the first live act to grace the stage, Sheffield five-piece Smiling Ivy.

Tipped as one of Sheffield's break-through acts, Smiling Ivy make music that comes alive with the presence of a crowd. A firm local favourite, the band played a compilation of tracks, including some from their most recent EP Party Shop Cartel. Apparently plans are afoot for new releases this summer.

Four-piece Manchester band Jeramiah Ferrari also impressed. Having introduced their reggae punk fusion at Tramlines last year, they were promoting the release of their latest single 'Mindless Riots', a somewhat political statement which seemed to encapsulate the event.

Musical interludes followed, with Arnivore being joined by The Legitimate Gentlemen. Sporting the self-proclaimed title of 'electro-swing persuasion', the house beats entwined with trumpet and sax eventually made way for headline act The Correspondents, who played tracks from their forthcoming EP after a 14-month absence from Sheffield.

Appearing on the Telegraph's Top Ten Highlights of Glasto two years in a row, these guys are known for their eclectic sound and insane live performances, drawing influence from jazz, 60s beat, dub and drum 'n' bass. There's something nostalgic and familiar yet vibrant about their sound.

Shepdog lived up to his mission statement of providing 'righteous party vibes', bringing the night to a close with a selection of popular favourites.

Cool Beans is undoubtedly a night for dancing, a night for laughs and a night with an atmosphere and line-up that would be as much at home in open grassy fields as it was in Sheffield Students' Union.

The next Cool Beans event will be a Peace in the Park fundraiser at The Red House on 4th June.


12th May.
Fez Club.

Reviewer - John Gillett.

With the bar being raised substantially in the past few months by the likes of Collect, Drumro[ll] and Cargo bringing some of the most talented artists in underground house and techno to our city, I wasn't surprised when Sheffield Techno Institute (STI) stepped up with their biggest booking yet @ the Fez club on Saturday 12th May.

Luke Slater has been peddling techno all over the place since the early nineties. Not much has changed. Over the years he's released tracks as Planetary Assault Systems, The 7th Plain, Clementine and L.B Dub Corp. As PAS, his two most recent albums on Berlin-based label Ostgut Ton have gone down a treat. Check out 'Temporary Suspension' and 'The Messenger.'

I'd been looking forward to this night since they released the line-up. With support from Nottingham's Ed Horsley and STI's residents Terry Dragatis, Cellar Dweller and Randy Lahey, I knew the music would be right up my techno alley.

Congratulations has to go to soundsystem wizard James Foulkes, with his Martin Audio rig set up to exactly compliment the style of music, it was one of the most well-defined I'd heard in some time. Warm bass tones were ever present, whilst punchy kicks, crisp hats and snares were never drowned out.

Slater's extended five-deck set had obvious Berlin influence. The loops were tough and relentless but with a funky tinge and the music was always building and progressing even when you thought there was nowhere else he could take it. The mixing, as you'd expect, was flawless, and the track selection and timing got everyone bouncing about.

With the friendly crowd that the scene in this city is so famous for, there was a nice vibe in the intimate setting of Fez, the club was full enough to create the party atmosphere but there was enough space to have a boogie and not feel claustrophobic. I had a great time. Anyone who's into this kind of music has to be feeling excited right now about what's happening in Sheffield. The likes of Leeds and Manchester should be worried.


22nd May.

Reviewer - Talie Eigeland.

Interesting choice of support. Rumer is better known than Saint Etienne, and the two acts have very little, if anything at all, in common. Originally from Pakistan, Sarah Joyce a.k.a. Rumer's voice is all but obnoxious. Oh, what a tone that girl has on her. Navigating somewhere between jazz and soul, she's backed up by a pianist, drummer and guitarist with a fine moustache. Apparently she was on Jools Holland recently. The venue isn't too full yet, because everyone's busy lounging around in the bar area, though they're all a bit tipsier on overpriced cans of Red Stripe than you'd expect. Classy.

Saint Etienne. Quite hyped once again as of fairly recently, even though this is their eighth album since 1990. The name comes from a French football team based somewhere in the depths of the Loire. This is where all the modern music comes from - electronic dance-pop featuring two dudes fiddling with buttons making it all happen, a somewhat reclusive guitarist, a blonde lead singer and a backing vocalist for your harmonic and percussive enjoyment. Sarah, our girl, is very charismatic but also quite ill on this first night of their 2012 tour, so she's chewing on some throat thingamabobs and sipping some 'medicinal G&T'. They've got proper haircuts - as opposed to scruffy fringe-in-face rats' tails - a white feather boa and a dazzling quantity of sequins.

As the set goes on, Saint Etienne play more and more of their new material. "It's like you're guinea pigs," they say. The group is clearly one big family and they tell us we're going to grow to like the new album, Words and Music by Saint Etienne, just released and indeed rather a contrast with their previous songs, the last of which emerged back in 2005. The people at the front seem to have memorized the band's entire discography, while the rest look a bit non-plussed, as though this wasn't quite what they left the house for. Sarah is both talented and charming. It's just a shame her microphone never got removed from its stand.


29th May.

Reviewer - Vienna Famous.

Joy Division sang for only children and other lost souls. Both siblingless, Ian Curtis hung himself the year I was born, a couple of miles down the road from where I grew up. "You're born alone/You die alone" etched into a toilet door on the Transpennine Express; everyone's fate, but felt more acutely by us only children.

Tonight though, I'm an honorary bro, here with two real ones. Tonight, I'm going to belong.

First up on the Leadmill stage, an ersatz Wendy James ventures into territory where love tears people apart. "All I need for sex and violence is you," she sings vacantly, missing the point.

Hooky & The Light charge onstage like Mancunians on the lash: Joy Division Re-Upholstered. Peter Hook is the pigeon-chested overlord of a generation of ex-disestablishmentarians; still got the spirit, but somehow lost the feeling. Ian Curtis' vulnerability is usurped by a Salford scally doing aerobics: arms up, out, and forward. He offers us tough love, a kiss that feels like a punch. The ultrasonic bass of Hook & son scans fans, illuminating pie-babies and half-digested dreams while he bellows like a late-stage Jim Morrison. Unlike Curtis, the idiot savant of alienation, Hook isn't an outsider (and he can sing better). He's a bona fide brother with a nostalgia-fits-all inclusivity, uniting cheeky chappies and aloof middle managers alike through a full rendition of the 1979 Joy Division album Unknown Pleasures.

An album played end-to-end demands a sustained, devotional concentration rare in the Spotify Age. This is the way, step inside; the Church of Memory admits all. "I was 14 again," a dad gushes later in the Rutland. "I re-mem-ber/When we were you-ung." The faithful reach out to be regressed (less hair, more problems), rocking with eyes closed like incubating penguins. A junkie-framed pogoer looks around and I glimpse the decayed face of Ian Curtis, creased like a paper bag.

Peter Hook is a chunk of moon rock; rough, grey, inauspicious, but symbolic of something bigger, better, incandescent. We don't expect his group to look or sound exactly like Joy Division. They're here as backing band while we sing along. Though The Light's skill is no substitute for Unknown Pleasure's soul, it's a team effort we're all in on, conjuring occasional transcendence. Final encores of 'Transmission' and 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' cast a lunar glow, but I leave hungry for the real thing.

For more writing by Vienna Famous, click here


by Now Then Sheffield

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