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A Magazine for Sheffield

Tramlines 2012

Reviewer - Pete Martin.

This is an abridged, lightning stop tour of my weekend. My first band are Low Duo at the Forum. Leigh Greenwood's emotive voice is backed only by brother Adam's acoustic guitar but, though the accompaniment is soft and spare, it perfectly suits the folk-tinged songs. Most of the set is taken from their specially commissioned Tramlines EP and features a playful mix of harrowing tales and love songs about spiders.

Emily Ireland aka See Emily Play plays her beguiling songs at a jam-packed and enthusiastic Library Theatre accompanied not only by her usual band, but also by the 12-piece Sheffield Chamber Orchestra. Her songs are well constructed, quirky pop gems and they benefit hugely from the SCO's classy arrangements.

The Cathedral provides a serene setting for Nile Marr who performs without the rest of his band, Man Made. Though his slashing and screeching shards of electric guitar wouldn't normally be on the menu for this hallowed place, there is a certain purity in Marr's glacial soundscapes. His slacker look is incongruously offset with his usual gold sequined jacket which shimmers in the stained glass light.

2 great young beat combos impress with cocksure frontmen lifting them above their contemporaries - Dave Mapson with Goldsoul play to a packed Harrisons Bar, while Danny Makepeace and Vegas Child are on the main Leadmill stage.

Wet Nuns have always played with a shit-kicking bravado, but after a series of dates around the country their confidence has sky-rocketed, resulting in an awesome, ear-bleeding set at DQ. It has been a real privilege to see these guys progress from backwoods bumpkins to badass rock gods (their words, probably).

Sunday provides further evidence of the vast array of music and other entertainment available. Back at the Cathedral is Liverpool's Laura J Martin, who plays an engaging 30-minute set of looped flute, mandolin and vocals to recreate songs from her debut album The Hangman Tree.

The avant-garde is represented at the Memorial Hall by the improvisational Orchestra of the Upper Atmosphere playing on stage while the 25-strong antichoir Juxtavoices are positioned on the balcony. The mix of music and discordant whispers and screams is a powerful, disquieting experience.

Some light relief is provided watching the Buster Keaton classic The General, then it is down to the New Music Stage to witness a wired show by 65daysofstatic. The barrage of thundering drums, throbbing bass and grinding guitar is enthusiastically cheered by fans on the City Hall steps and also brings the outdoor moshpit to life.

Then it's down to the Leadmill for the Smoke Fairies ably supported by Low Duo, the hardest working band of the weekend - this was their 6th gig - who play another well-received set (wearing the same clothes for the whole weekend by the look of things). The Smoke Fairies lilting melodies are pleasant, but don't sufficiently hold the attention of a reviewer who has already OD'd on great music.


Reviewer - Jack Opus.

The Tramlines weekend began for me with Huwho's event at Bungalows & Bears, showcasing xxxy and Midland alongside local artists. I performed and was followed by local talent Squarehead. It was warming to see the home crowd coming out in good numbers to support his set, which showcased his new EP on Sheffield imprint 5ANDSEVEN.

Next for me was Plug for their Butterz Record Label event, featuring Ellijah, Skillam, Champion, Swindle and Logan Sama. I arrived for the last ten minutes of Ellijah & Skillam's set before Champion took to the stage, demonstrating clearly why he has played twice in the city in the last year - incredibly tight mixing and eclectic selection across grime and UK funky.

But my highlight of the Friday evening was Kabal, organised in celebration of Pipes and Ross Orton's 'Agitated' re-work of Toddla's recent album Watch Me Dance. Although not part of Tramlines, it was great to see Sheffield paying in during a weekend of free events to support a party that has been present in the city for over a decade. Long live.

Saturday began with the concourse event at Sheffield Uni. I arrived to Squarehead warming the crowd up with ease, followed by Oneman who will always be a DJ worth going the extra mile to see - New Order 'Blue Monday' being the unexpected highlight. The rest of the afternoon and early evening played host to L-Vis 1990, T Williams & Julio Bashmore. T William's was my choice of the remaining DJs. Playing with a huge smile on his face at all times, he delivered a set that was perfectly in tune with the party atmosphere, and his performance was a clear justification as to why he now has a regular slot on Rinse FM.

Next I went to the Octagon for the second leg of the University event - Toddla's T party, also featuring Mele, Benga, Jackmaster, Oris Jay and competition winner Autograff. I caught the Toddla T Sound show, which included a synced visual show, appearances from DRS, Serocee and a frankly breathtaking Shola Ama. It was a real pleasure to see a show that has been evolving since its first outing during Major Lazer's tour on its home turf with a very warm crowd in full support.

Later that evening, I travelled down to Signals at Yellow Arch Studios for my back-to-back set with Walter Ego. This event was funded by the Arts Council and run mostly by volunteers who clearly had a true passion for the music and event they had curated. Having been present in the afternoon for their panel discussions, I had hoped to see more of the acts appearing at Yellow Arch, but it was a great pleasure to see the building at capacity for the unique line up held within.

As bed time approached and passed, we went off to DLS and were greeted by Chris Duckenfield starting his set in the main room of Snow Lane. It was the perfect resolution to the night, played out by a characteristically smooth and expertly crafted sequence of music from the man himself.

Sunday was all about South Yorks in a warehouse on Sidney Street. This event hosted the premiere of the animated series Zebraface, performances from the cast, and sets from a host of talent which included Chester P, Trellion & Sniff, Walter Ego, Pipes, the mighty Forgemasters and many others. The personal moment for me was the chance to see Elliot Holbrow's photography exhibited on equal pegging alongside Shaun Bloodworth's work. As a personal friend, and someone that I always aim to work with on my own projects, it was warming to see his work at this great celebration of Sheffield art and music.

Until next year.


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