Little Man Tate: Sheffield Academy

To be honest it wasn’t too much of a surprise to their fans, when Little Man Tate announced their split in mid July this year As soon as the tickets went on sale for their final gig, it was sold out in a matter of minutes. Then another date was added almost immediately to accommodate those fans who didn’t manage to buy tickets in the first place. As the dates approached it was obvious most fans viewed the gigs arrival with some very mixed feelings.

On the Friday at the ‘not quite full’ O2 Academy, Artery kicked off the night with their trade mark alternative sound, and I must admit, I thought Artery was a surprising support choice for Little Man Tate. Artery got together in the late 70’s, and at the time, had healthy support by the likes of John Peel. Unfortunately they split in the mid 80’s. I have to say seeing a band where the musicians are actually older than me was a real treat; their maturity really setting the benchmark for talent, especially with their carefully written lyrics. The most memorable song they played was ‘Unfaithful girlfriend’ the blend of 70’s and 00’s really made the song stand out. I’m glad Artery are back together and playing live venues again, because to be honest due to my age I don’t remember them the first time around and if this set is anything to go by, we will be seeing a lot more of them.

Little Man Tate entered the stage for their penultimate gig to an amazing sound of cheers and applause, and to be honest it was like any other gig – like they’d never been away. I noticed Jon’s hair was slightly different and somehow he looked more mature (I suppose that’s what being married does to you..!), Dan’s drum kit boasted the first/original logo and he wasn’t sat in the dark this time! The lads instantly piled into the traditional start to their set with ‘Man I hate your band’ and even more cheers and applause filled the O2. The crowd was reminded it was one of their last performances when Jon told the crowd in a tongue in cheek way that, they were on telly earlier in the evening and then said something like, “isn’t it amazing the band has to split up before we get on TV ?!” The set was a generous 16 song extravaganza, including a 4 song encore. The crowd surfers were quite minimal really considering it was the last time some fans were ever going to see Little Man Tate again. The lads finished the evening with ‘Boothy’s’ which stirred some fans emotions, because looking round there were tears, cheers and screams as the lads left the stage.

Saturday brought the last ever Little Man Tate show, and you could tell that’s exactly what the notice on the front of the O2 Academy displayed just in case there were any doubts. A queue had started forming about an hour or so before the doors opened. Many Taters had arranged to meet at pub in town so they could catch up with each other. Personal friends of Little Man Tate the RepoMen were tonight’s support; again a more mature band with an alternative sound. Their energy grabbed the attention of the crowd instantly, and my personal favourite tracks were the ones where Howard Price accompanied the band with his amazing trumpet playing. Denzil asked the crowd if they thought Little Man Tate were too good to split up and obviously the crowd answered a very loud “YES”. The Repomen finished off with one the best songs of the night ‘Parallel Schizophrenic’ with the sound of spiralling guitars and singable chorus.

The crowd waited with much anticipation for the last ever Little Man Tate gig. And as the crowd waited, Bish (Fan of LMT/King of the Taters/Santa Tater) gave out the stickers he had made to as many people he could, which said ‘man I loved your band – Little Man Tate 2005 – 2009’ and the people wore the stickers with pride! Again the lads entered the stage to an euphoria of applause and cheers. The set began in pretty much the same way as the day before – opening song being ‘Man I hate your band’. But that’s where the similarities ended because, even though there was some duplication of songs from the previous night, there were more fans favourites added to this set list.

The crowd surfers came thick and fast even though security had put up more NO CROWD SURFING signs since the day before, obviously hoping that would stop them but it didn’t and to be honest it never did! The crowd kept surging forward and there were some crushing against the barrier similar to their night at the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool. Jon spoke to the crowd a few times – he urged people to get together and make a band he thanked everyone and said they wouldn’t be stood there now if it wasn’t for the amazing support Jon even looked quite surprised and emotional when the house lights went up and he looked around and commented about all the familiar faces “I can see everyone Everyone’s here!”

To be honest, one of the things I never quite understood about Jon was the way he often portrayed himself, especially when he so often seemed to consider himself to be unworthy of fan adoration why I suppose we’ll never know (because to the fans of Little Man Tate – Jon and the rest of the band are viewed to be very talented and are very much adored!) and it makes you wonder if the split had anything to do with just that – his/their apparent lack of self belief? Of course everyone was there, Little Man Tate has a major following (and not just in Sheffield) and right up until the very end they are very much supported by their fans.

The end of the gig marked quite a bit of emotion from the hardcore fans – one person a few days later commented on the Little Man Tate forum that she was quite tearful at the end of the gig and Dan the drummer’s dad said to her (obviously to try and cheer her up) something like “I don’t know why your upset, they are all reforming again next week!!” – Let’s hope that wasn’t a joke! And without trying to sound too much as if someone has died Little Man Tate will be very much missed – the gap they leave in the local music scene is a very large one and it begs the question – who’s going to fill it now?