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A Magazine for Sheffield

Magazine / Na Zdrove / Neil McSweeney / Yuck

9th November. Plug.

Reviewer - Pete Martin.

A near-capacity crowd greets post-punk legends Magazine on their comeback tour. After releasing five albums between 1978 and 1981, Howard Devoto dissolved the band and virtually retired from music for a quarter of a century.

Support on the tour comes from Doncaster's hotly-tipped In Fear Of Olive, who have just released their second EP Saluting Magpies. They are a young four-piece who are remarkably assured, deftly switching between various folk, rock and country styles. All four musicians contribute vocals, which add a real depth and maturity to the already beautifully crafted and executed songs. There are a number of very tasteful and expensively produced videos on YouTube where IFOO's more reflective side is shown, but they pretty much stick to their up-tempo songs here. They've played in Sheffield a few times already this year and if they return to somewhere more intimate like the Greystones, they'll be unmissable.

The Magazine musicians amble onstage and start blasting out 'Definitive Gaze' before Devoto appears to great applause. He lives up to (or plays up to) his eccentric reputation by producing two placards adorned with the phrases "Let's fly away to the world" and "You do the meaning" to the general bemusement of everyone present.

Devoto announces that this is "Magazine version 6.0", alluding to the defection/departure of several previous members. A number of songs from the new album No Thyself follow, all in the Magazine mould but merging into a similar sounding Magazine-lite. This situation was alleviated with two songs from their masterpiece The Correct Use Of Soap, 'A Song From Under The Floorboards' and 'Philadelphia', which gave the set a muchneeded jolt.

As with the PiL tour earlier this year, original members leave a void, and although Stan White and Noko play all the right notes in the right order, Barry Adamson's elastic, cinematic bass and John McGeoch's glacial perfection are sorely missed. Also, original keyboard player Dave Formula was pretty anonymous for much of the evening, making some bizarre and sometimes wayward contributions, though he played some great, funky clavinet on Sly Stone's 'Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)'.

The one-hour set concluded with 'The Light Pours Out Of Me', which perhaps receives the best reception of the night. The band then returns for a three-song encore, with debut single 'Shot By Both Sides' benefitting from Noko's best work.

This was a solid performance which pleased the majority of the 40 and 50-somethings who dominated the crowd but, like many old bands currently touring, Magazine are living off past glories.


5th November. Penelope's.

Reviewer - Tom Childs.

Europe. I don't know the finer points but it seems like the whole place is a bit of a shitstorm at the moment, what with debt comparable to...well nothing, because it's unprecedented. Po-faced newsreaders hate it, the banks of our capital city hate it, our politicians hate it, but a crowd of sweaty punters in Sheffield on a miserable Saturday night go absolutely insane for it.

Na Zdrove is something of a Sheffield institution. As soon as my party arrived on Saturday we were greeted with hugs from the fez-topped organizer and beaming smiles all round. Descending the stairs from just outside the outstandingly ugly Odeon on Arundel Gate, you may as well be crossing the channel and travelling a couple of thousand miles to a backstreet Eastern bloc club. Na Zdrove is about as far from an English clubbing experience as you can get.

One feature that ensured this authentic European atmosphere was the presence of the Amsterdam Klezmer Band, who played with a virtuosity seldom achieved by their English contemporaries. The band rattled through Baltic beat after Gypsy rhythm and the crowd jumped as if the floor was covered in hot coals. The seven-strong musical gang featured several brass-wielding maniacs, a mean double bass player, an accordion warlock and a chap whose entire evening was dedicated to shouting Yiddish and playing the finger cymbals. I've been to some pretty good gigs this year, but the only acts who come close to touching the enthusiasm of the Amsterdam Klezmer boys are The Hives and Iggy Pop.

This is their first tour of England and the Na Zdrove crowd was lucky to have experienced them at one of just three UK dates. But no less entertaining was the subsequent playlist of Balkan beats that the Na Zdrove DJs deployed to keep the packed dance floor bouncing. Whether the crowd was just excited to hear something different or if Eastern European Gypsy punk is laced with mystic power, the energy levels in Penelope's didn't drop until the lights came on and everyone reluctantly headed home.

Na Zdrove enjoys several unique selling points among a Sheffield club night scene that is of a competitively high standard. Firstly, there is the DJs' ability to make all who enter bounce around for hours on end. Secondly, the organisers create an actual experience, offering an insight into a culture removed from ours with their knowledgeable track selection, internationally-renowned bands and even Georgian cuisine, with a Khachapuri Café stand serving food considerably more wholesome than your standard takeaway kebab. Lastly, there is a real buzz that surrounds the night. My housemates and I were looking forward to it all week and all who attended left with a knowing smirk - "See you next time, comrade."



Reviewer - ebony nembhard.

Sold out completely, The Backroom of The Greystones was at full capacity. The much-anticipated event courtesy of Wagon Wheel Media marked five years of the company's promotions in the city and took place at what has in recent months become a local landmark for live music and comedy. Promoting shows and expanding their current fan base, Wagon Wheel work with a spectrum of artists, paying homage to great Americana and folk musicians across the board.

After taking off in the autumn of 2010 and unveiling a new, much more inviting look, The Greystones now brings in line-ups of a consistently high calibre. The venue has since opened its doors to many acts, notably during the Tramlines weekend and most recently for the Grin Up North comedy festival.

With a promising pre-show atmosphere, the music on the night lived up to the promise. My first trip to the Greystones was certainly a positive one.

The Payroll Union opened the show with their seductive and ever-infectious Americana sound. The band gave a slick performance alongside intervals of banter which managed to warm up the somewhat reclining crowd, playing a miscellaneous set of old favourites alongside tracks from their current EP Your Obedient Servant, which boasts a refreshing vibrancy.

Second act Torn Snail, fronted by singer-songwriter Huw Costin, were next to take to the stage and gave a heart-felt performance during which the audience were treated to an acoustic sound delicately entwined with a celestial romanticism. A reincarnation of The Cold Light of Day, the band are fairly new on the scene, having initially formed in 2008. Following a few more additions to the lineup, the five-piece released their first single 'Birds' in April 2011, the first song lifted from their forthcoming debut album on independent label Claremont56.

Concluding a strong night, headlining act Neil McSweeney & The Gents commanded the stage with a majestic performance. With two critically acclaimed albums under their belt, Remember To Smile and Shoreline, Neil & The Gents played a collection of intricately crafted ballads and melodic love songs infused with spirit and splendour.

Closing the show with solo acoustic number 'London Road', Neil played with a virtuous sincerity, displaying the sort of candor and honesty which is perhaps too much of a rarity.


16th November. leadmill.

Reviewer - andrew almond.

There's a prevalent school of thought suggesting that being a great band is all about investing your collective energies into experimenting with backwards effects loops, E-bows and alternate tunings. At the Leadmill on 16th November Yuck proved that rock and roll is a dish served best when played in all of its primal, feral, distorted glory.

Support came from fellow Londoners and power-pop quartet Fanzine. Ploughing a similar musical furrow to Yuck - right down to their shared weapon of choice in the Fender Jaguar - Fanzine play three-minute nuggets of melodic alternative pop-rock; the type that you would imagine saturated the airwaves of American college radio stations in the early to mid 90s. Tonight that is no bad thing; 'Roman Holiday' is a joy to behold even if it does perhaps bare more than a passing resemblance to the aforementioned Weezer's 'Buddy Holly'.

Let's cut straight to the point. Yuck - a band which features Daniel Blumberg and Max Bloom, formerly of Cajun Dance Party - have produced one of 2011's most raucous and admirably anarchic debut albums this side of the Atlantic. From the opening riff and whispered vocal of the gloriously euphoric 'Holing Out', it was plain for all to see that Yuck's updated take on Dinosaur Jnr/Sonic Youth grunge transfers as vividly to the Leadmill stage as it does to record.

Cutting an aloof figure, what with a tussled mop of auburn locks and slacker denim attire, frontman Blumberg clearly embraces the physical, aesthetic side of grunge as well as the musical. A band of few words, they rattle through the majority of their debut self-titled album, highlights of which included fan favourite 'Georgia' - arguably the most accomplished three-minutes of guitar pop released this year - the Vines-esque album opener 'Get Away' and the melancholy 'Suicide Policeman', with its mellow, obligatory lighter-in-the-air sing-a-long chorus.

The vociferous 'Operation' is also on show tonight in all its ferocious glory; the interplay between Blumberg and Bloom's guitars demonstrating a rare brand of telepathy that only comes from honing their live act over a number of years across various musical guises.

"I love you guys... especially you down there," Bloom exclaims, pointing to the minority cohort situated in front of the stage centre who have arms draped over each other, as they bounce along in unison. "I'm fed up of being young and free", Blumberg murmurs on 'Suck'. On tonight's evidence, this is not a feeling reciprocated by his fellow band members or those packed into the Leadmill, where we partied like it was 1991.


Next article in issue 45

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