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A Magazine for Sheffield
Live / stage review

Peace / Roderick Williams & Ensemble 360

9 May

I’d just started university when Peace came to my attention. My life seemed destined to become a weak brew of student debt and unattributed Wikipedia knowledge. Luckily a new band had burst onto the scene, one who adopted a more flamboyant persona over macho posturing, one that could gift me the perfect soundtrack to my much-needed reinvention. Seven years later, while I’m still somehow in higher education, Peace have moved on, releasing their third album and once again playing UK shows.

Lead singer Harrison Koisser comes draped in the same loungewear for tonight’s gig that he posed in for the cover of the latest LP, Kindness Is The New Rock And Roll. There is a noticeable decibel swell as the band’s members appear one-by-one. Perhaps he’s this generation's alternative heartthrob. Perhaps he’s simply been missed.

The band take no time to fire into ‘Wraith’. Together, nostalgia and euphoria fill whatever space was left in the absolutely brimming Leadmill. The plethora of evocative stimuli sends me back to first year, back to that night when my Spanish friend persistently asked for high fives before falling asleep on my bedroom floor.

Expecting to see a crowd of younger faces, I found comfort in the realisation that most of the audience, like me, had also aged. The newest songs went down best among the fresher-faced attendees, especially ‘You Don’t Walk Away From Love’, a number Harrison jokingly describes as “Talking Heads, with more walking than talking”.

Sheffielders have waited four years to see the boys from Birmingham back in their city. Playing plenty from In Love, their much-loved debut, and introducing some promising songs from their latest effort, most would agree it was worth the wait. Although I’m about to finally finish university, I hope that Peace are just warming up.

Tom Josephidou


11 May
Crucible Studio

Across two packed concerts in one evening, baritone Roddy Williams first joined Ensemble 360 to sing Mahler’s ‘Songs of a Wayfarer’, then presented the third of his survey of Schubert’s song cycles with Swansong, a sequence of 13 posthumously published songs from late in Schubert’s life.

Before Williams took to the stage, Ensemble 360 performed Mahler’s ‘Quartet in A minor’, followed by Wagner’s ‘Siegfried Idyll’. The latter was originally composed by Wagner for his wife - as a surprise, performed on their staircase at home - and latterly incorporated into his opera, Siegfried.

Both performances were absolutely superb. The quartet was beautiful, truly Romantic and played with the infectious enthusiasm at which Ensemble 360 musicians excel. The Mahler was a splendid affair, with ten musicians in the round. I recognised music used by Buñuel in the classic short film, Un Chien Andalou, a reminder not just of the wide range of uses to which classical music is put, but also the power of a composer whose music is recognisable in very different contexts.

Williams’s and the ensemble’s rendition of Mahler’s songs was absolutely perfect. The late concert, completing Schubert’s song cycle, was also outstanding. Not only was the singing and interpretation perfect, as was Iain Burnside’s accompaniment on piano, but the presence Roddy Williams brought to his performances added hugely to the experience. The way he used the space in the round, making sure that he sang directly to every part of the audience, and at charming moments directly to individuals, was captivating. His introduction too, in which he spoke about the ways every concert is a rehearsal, showed humility and a profound understanding of the music he performs, reminding us of the benefits for performer and audience alike to always being open to learning something new, even from familiar works.

Samantha Holland


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