Hey Sholay, Neil McSweeney and David J Roch and Harley Likes Music: Library Theatre, Sheffield

Whilst the rest of the city took to the pubs and bars we were hidden away for a night at the theatre. Habitually at this time of the year and in this kind of venue, images of pantomimes and slapstick are paramount in many peoples imaginations, alas tonight we were expecting theatrics of a different kind, a more musical variety.

With Christmas songs playing in the interim we were soon lead into the bleeps and whips of Harley Likes Music. One man and a number of Nintendo DSs entertainingly powering through a 30 minute or so set, providing an interesting feat for the ears. As Harley concentrated on hitting the right beat we were set adrift in an instrumental orchestration of the power of the DS, it is amazing what some people come up with. Though all that was missing from the set was the fact that a ‘donk’ could have livened things up, as at times it felt a bit lacklustre.

Neil McSweeney and David J Roch both strong and independent solo artists in their own right, seem to always team up around the festive period, think Morecombe and Wise, Little and Large or even Statler and Wardolf. Nevertheless, we were treated to a five song set that blustered through the eaves of the theatre. Commencing with a breath taking version ‘Oh Come Emmanuel’ by David J Roch, it felt that we were in for a bit of an emotional ride but when Neil McSweeney steps in announcing that the next song is about a prisoner at Christmas and it’s about wanking it leaves a surreal picture in one’s head, still he continues this and follows with one of his own songs, London Road accompanied by the sound of ‘sleigh’ bells just to get us in the Christmas mood.

There’s banter between the two singers which flows into the audience as laughter fills the room, they talk about mad/black Friday to being alone at Christmas, as David follows with a song about slitting wrists, which leads into their final song a cover of Lonely This Christmas and a bit of a sing-a-long with the crowd.

There’s something rather special about this duo, collectively despite their songs being fuelled with deep emotions and occasional despair they provide a soundtrack to those feelings people get at this time of the year. They don’t dwell on these sentiments as with their frequent chatter and repartee there’s a light hearted feeling to the morose.

Our headliners, Hey Sholay, have had an amazing 2012 which came to a bit of a low a few weeks ago as their van and equipment was stolen. Not ones to be knocked down and with a little help from their friends and support from the masses, they’ve managed to get back on track in order to complete their live dates which conclude at this very gig.

Our hometown heroes enter the stage to cheers from an audience filled with friends, family and fans as they kick off with Shut The Devil At The Back Door/A Day In The Country, Berlin. They continue with The Bears, The Clocks, The Bees followed by Burning.

There’s something loveable about Hey Sholay and their music that provides a uniqueness in both audio and visually. Their eagerness to experiment with customised equipment and a stylised range of sounds shows influences from music and arts within their set and in effect they produce a ‘happy go lucky’ progressive sound that never seems to fade.

As they whisk through tracks from their debut album ((O)), including Wishbone and My Blood they come to a point where they address the audience and briefly talk about the ‘van thing’ and how it’s a ‘boring story’ but gracefully thank everyone who has helped them and dedicate Dreamboat to each and every person. As they end the night with Go Easy Tiger, there’s singing and dancing in the audience and a smile on pretty much everyone’s face.