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A Magazine for Sheffield

Tramlines / Algorave / Julia McInally

17 July
Harland Cafe

When most people think 'gig', they imagine a bustling bar, full of sweaty bodies, packed in so close that you have to dodge elbows and pint spillages. But tonight's gig is a classy, sit-down do, combining the two best things in life – food and music.

Just off Bramall Lane, Harland Cafe has been turned into a cosy bistro, with diners sitting at tables topped with candles dripping over wine bottles. Although I haven't opted for the meal and music ticket, I am assured the Greek feta pie, tiramisu and cakes from the counter were particularly delicious. I sit on a bar stool with a glass of wine and get in the mood for a relaxed, intimate performance from bubbly Sheffield singer-songwriter Julia McInally.

Looking the part of sophisticated serenader in a black floral dress, Julia's folk-tinged vocals and strumming is joined by the beautiful boom of band mate Shaun's double bass. Laughter erupts as violinist Ian turns up mid-song. He joins in for the second song, 'Dirty Little Secret', which has a similar riff to Oasis' 'Wonderwall', only with airy yet strong vocals more reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac. Julia delivers an atmospheric solo performance of the title track of her new album, Flying Solo, to an attentive audience, before a brilliant, upbeat sing-along of Dolly Parton's 'Jolene'. Then, in theatrical style, there is an interlude.

Julia returns with a sad song, giving Ian's weeping violin a chance to shine. Her smooth and deep vocals are perfect for a cover of Peggy Lee's 'Fever' and it's easy to imagine we're in a jazz bar. Julia plays a few more country-inspired and feistier originals before an encore of Meghan Trainor's 'All About That Bass' and Spandau Ballet's 'Through The Barricades' on a diner's request.

Tonight has been a welcome change from the usual gig down the pub. Though Julia has plenty of material to impressively span two 30-minute sets, she doesn't shy away from putting her own spin on some pop classics.

Phoebe Seymour


11 July
Access Space

The Algorave movement, based around live music created through improvised computer code and algorithms, was only born in late 2011, but the collective have already made four excursions to Sheffield, further proof of the city's inexhaustible enthusiasm for experimental electronic music.

After previous trips to the Audacious Art Experiment and the late Penelopes, it seems to have found its South Yorkshire home at Access Space, even if the tiny venue only offers room for a few dozen revellers. For a pop-up club the size of an inner city bedsit, the musicians were backed up by some serious firepower, thanks to two intimidating speaker stacks from Danger Noise Audio that wouldn't have looked out of place doing damage at a warehouse party.

The title is a bit of an in-joke – Algoraves are more MS-DOS than MDMA – with a curious mix of code kids, beard strokers and adventurous clubbers in attendance and, crucially, they don't take themselves too seriously. The drinks table was labelled 'Algopops'.

Minutes into Joanne + Greta's set their software crashed, helpfully demonstrating one of the pitfalls of improvised laptop music, leaving live drummer Greta to fill time frantically while the program was reset, as much to their own amusement as the audience's. New York's Obi-Wan Codenobi, complete with tunic, introduced some much-needed visual silliness, sending hundreds of rainbow-tailed Nyan Cats flying joyously across the screen to his melodic big beat music.

Iceland's Thor Magnusson and Alexandra Cárdenas from Berlin brought more serious techno to the table, though it was difficult as an outsider to connect the changes in the music to what was happening on screen. The only obvious link was when players abruptly ended their sets by typing the word 'STOP'.

The band Introducing have found a niche in recreating electronic LPs live, but instead of Discovery, the Algorave players seemed determined to re-imagine Autechre's entire output in one night. Renick Bell's set, closing the show at 11:30, was like Gantz Graf extended to a punishing half-hour, while Norah Lorway's dancefloor-orientated performance sounded like Amber at double speed.

Sheffield resident and enthusiastic host Yaxu pulled a big crowd for the most accessible set of the night. Samples of early 90s house piano riffs and soulful female vocals were triggered over a throbbing 4/4 bass kick, with bursts of handclaps escaping from an 808 buried somewhere in the code. Ten minutes in he dropped his secret weapon, the Amen break, and hands were thrown into the air with wild abandon as chopped up, relentless breakcore bludgeoned the small space into submission.

Sam Gregory


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