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A Magazine for Sheffield

Damo Suzuki, Frozac, Taste of Eden, Am Jam

9th December.

Reviewer - Clare Whitty.

The Harley rarely fails to deliver an eclectic range of musical events, making it one of the pillars of Sheffield's nightlife. And tonight's performer, experimental frontman Damo Suzuki, is certainly about as eclectic as you can get.

As we stepped into the gig with quiet, excited anticipation, we were met by the bustling atmosphere we have come to expect from this venue. The presence of Spiral Navigators and other musicians from Sheffield's psychedelic scene showed the creative influence of Damo Suzuki, the energetic singer who was picked from busking on the streets to join the German rock band Can back in the early 70s.

His stint with Can only lasted from 1970 to 1973, but his time in the band is seen by many fans as being their greatest. Now he prefers live performance over recording. He has set up Damo Suzuki's Network, a worldwide collective of musicians who come together without rehearsal to create improvisational music for the moment. When playing gigs, he utilises local musicians for both support and backing.

Tonight's support should have come from The Big Eyes Family Players, but due to unforeseen circumstances they were missing their drummer and bass player. Unfortunately, this meant they couldn't play as a support band. The remaining members did, however, provide backing for Damo Suzuki as he pounded out his amazing bluesy voice with powerful force.

The absence of drummer and bass player meant a strong beat was definitely missing throughout the set. Instead, the band used guitars, synthesizers, melodicas and various effects to create a platform for Damo. The entire set was one long song, with the backing changing occasionally. The sounds were spacey and floaty and this contrasted well with Suzuki's energetic voice.

His vocal style is similar to that of Captain Beefheart (RIP) and he growled, spat and sang down the microphone with the same kind of spot-on blues drawl. As a live performer, he has an edge that is rare to find. He interacts well with the other performers, always maintaining a stage presence throughout. Undoubtedly a performer worth seeing, although hopefully next time he will have some drums to back him up.


3rd December.

Reviewer - Barney Harris.

Despite quiet concerns about this event becoming more of a Snowzac than anything else, our lads decided that the show must go on whatever the weather, and aren't we (and indeed Sheffield Live radio) lucky that they did?

FroZac's informed and open-minded event programming means you'd be hard pushed to second guess who or what will pop up on the bill. But for December's Sheffield Live fundraising party, a well attended and equally well liquored-up Penelope's was treated to a selection of two bands and four DJs, not to mention a good old raffle and belly dance performance thrown in to boot.

I walked in on a well received live performance from the Sheffield-based Mother Folkers. Talented and youthful critters, they are fast earning a reputation for always delivering the folk-filled goods. Local crowds are undoubtedly feeding off their growing on-stage confidence. The lead lady holds a mighty tune whilst a skilful percussionist taps out beats on a number of interesting objects including an exotic-sounding cajón drum. Throwing in more traditional folksy sounds courtesy of the accordion, guitar and bass, the ensemble produced refreshing and innovative re-workings of groovy classics like Jurassic Five's 'Concrete Streets'.

This was followed by a truly rambunctious set from Newcastle's Maybe Myrtle Tyrtle, who, after a strong string of tunes, quite literally blew the roof off with their grin-inducing, Dylan-esque rendition of Bon Jovi's 'Living On A Prayer'. These guys have played from the highlands of Scotland to the highlands of Spain, presumably propelled by their limitlessly energetic stage presence and superb catalogue of original and mashed-up blues rock numbers. A top band, complete with an outrageously moustached harmonica playing frontman and quintessential Geordie-looking drummer.

Sandwiched between the live music was an expertly choreographed and visually delectable demo by the ubiquitous Boomshanka Bellydancers but, judging by a few reactions, they may have befuddled rather than bedazzled some of the more excitable FroZac revellers.

Following all the live action, Dill Zogg and resident DJs Tom Goose and Triffic carved out the soulful swing and psychedelic-edged breaks to accommodate a rich mix of party goers. Accordingly, Penelope's dance floor was put through the wash, proving that behind all the worldly, quality musicianship, FroZac always guarantees everyone a dirty great stomp to some pretty filthy tunes. More please!

The event raised a formidable £250 for Sheffield Live, a token of appreciation from the FroZac camp to a radio station that promotes good local and global music across Sheffield. Judging from their last event, this is something they seem to be pretty good at doing too.


11th December.
Yellow Arch Studios.

Reviewer - James Lock.

'Roll up! Roll up to Yellow Arch as you have never seen it before!' read the Facebook invite. So we do, and so it was.

The place was covered head to toe in absurd and abstract shapes, with large wooden mushrooms outside and handmade papier-mâché fruits hung from ceilings in sofa'd up rooms. Lots of respect goes out to the dedicated few who decorated Yellow Arches' conglomeration of differently sized spaces and repetitive red stone steps. The outside area seemed suitably haven-like, with a little seating available and canopies to prevent the rain running through rolling papers and hair alike.

The event, brought to us by Curious Oyster, was a taster of the annual Eden Festival in Scotland, which has won the hearts of many a Sheffield mad head and doer. Featuring a lengthy line-up of bands like Burleskimo, Mantra Rhythms and Jungle Lion, alongside DJs from Junglist Alliance, Sequoia and Nasty Finger to name but a few, it was always going to be a stormer. The live room pelted out ska, reggae and dub, while the two DJ rooms explored house, electro, dubstep, jungle, old school and way more. Significant chilling space was provided in the downstairs room.

I can't confess to having watched each act or to have been in a state significantly sober enough to recall exactly when and where people played. Safe to say, though, this was not your usual 'live gig'. Starting as it did at 10pm and finishing at 5am, it resembled more of a rave. I can say, however, that the event was sold out, that by about midnight some of the rooms were completely inaccessible due to the throng of bodies dancing within them - always a good sign in my experience - and that ultimately the atmosphere of enjoyment and mutual laughter prevailed to create an event that will long stick in my mind as being another Sheffield goodun.

Also worth a special mention is the loss of Olly Galvin from Sheffield to the Indian sub-continent. He will be back, or so we're told. This man of many trades and enthusiasms was one of the key organisers of this night's madness and has served Sheffield musical's endeavours well for many years. Keep safe, O lanky Jesus.


9th December.

Reviewer - Lucy Horwood.

Raising money and eyebrows for Human Rights Day, the Sheffield University Amnesty International student group hosted quite a shindig at the Washington pub. The intimate stage and spangly festive decorations offered the perfect venue for a low-key, relaxed jam for charity. A surprisingly dazzling bill of some of Sheffield's finest local talent was brought together by event organisers Hannah Renton and Lucy Meyler.

Starting early in the evening, I was just in time to catch a glimpse of the debut of Water's Enemy, a newly formed afrobeat band. Kickstarting the evening, the 8-piece ensemble of drums, bass, piano, trumpet, baritone sax, tenor sax and percussion are only just beginning to create their own material, but their vigorous instrumentals gave us a taste of their homegrown sound in the making, rooted in an eclectic blend of musical influences. The honest and vibrant approach captured a fusion of hip hop, soul and afrobeat, their energy fuelled by the funky rhythm section and complimented by punchy riffs from both horns and vocals. Their performance infused an exciting air for a new arrival on the Sheffield music community, and the gusto and flair that underlined this modest performance promised there will be more from these guys in the New Year.

The showcase of Water's Enemy gave way to the truly captivating vocals of Sheffield singer-songwriter Chloe Jade Simmons, a fair-haired Northern gem whose whimsical vocals recalled the sultry tones of Laura Marling. Her laissez-faire performance was ideal for a sociable crowd as people continued to arrive.

By the time Mantra Rhythms took to the stage, the pub was packed. Their intense dub beats infused the pub with a deep and mellow vibe. Their rhythms and rhymes got the crowd moving in no time at all. These cats are becoming pretty well known around Sheffield, after various performances across the city. Their sound was intense but chilled-out, enhanced by the lingering vocals of Joe Kriss, who stepped down from the stage and grooved on down with the crowds.

Next in line, gypsy-folk group Wholesome Fish were tracked down and hauled over from Nottingham after their recent 'alfresco set' in the hills courtesy of the Sheffield Folk Train. Their mad explosion of boogie-blues, bluegrass and Celtic bangers was undeniably cheesy but, with a washboard, a banjo and a fiddler as the prime instruments, they seemed nearly as bonkers as Eastern European gypsy-ska band Bell Hagg Orkestra, who topped the night off with a knees-up of flying feather boas and immense, burlesque vocals big enough to knock your socks off.


Next article in issue 34

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