A cold Friday night, but a busy time in Sheffield for live music and I opt for the Bungalow and Bears. Its free which helps in this day and age and has a good looking line up of two fast rising acts in Mabel Love and Sarah Mac, and in Mike Hughes aka Lenders In The Temple, a man thought by many to have the best voice in Sheffield music.
Sarah Mac opens to a tough crowd of passing punters but immediately turns more than a few heads to see where the distinctive voice is coming from. Sarah’s emotive vocals on opener One More Kiss, and the accompanying keyboard she plays, create a fairly unique sound for these parts best evidenced by her audience growing steadily gig-by-gig. Since going solo earlier this year after being a mere backing singer, her career has blossomed and her gig listings are impressive, including an impressive gig at the 100 Club in London recently. She certainly gained a few more fans tonight and gets good applause when closing with ‘Everyone Knows’, telling the tale of a trusting woman who mistakenly believes her unfaithful partner.
After a good start Mike Hughes takes the stage as the growing crowd forward to catch another excellent set from the former Little Ze frontman. Mike accompanies himself with acoustic guitar mostly but gets a partner on electric guitar for odd tracks. The wonderful set finale ‘Girl In The Clocktower’ was perhaps the highlight, very Dylanesque but with Mikes own sound stamped on it. Before that though we also get a cracker in Shake The Shakes with his emotive vocalising of some intelligent lyrics that are easy to relate to. I always feel a bit disappointed when talented songwriters do covers but his rendition of Springsteen’s ‘Dancing In The Dark’ is so good I’ll have to excuse him. A great ovation at the end of his set tells how good the performance was.
Headliners tonight are Mabel Love, whose component parts have a very good c.v. boasting the likes of former Park Brigade, Gas Club and Rossman Frister members, so it bodes well for a good set. I’d seen the Mabel Love’s debut at one of those secret locations and really enjoyed it but tonight they moved up many gears and gave an awesome performance. Richard Rice, or Ricey as everyone knows him, took over the vocals when Jubby Taylor left the aforementioned Park Brigade and the band evolved into Mabel Love. From an understandably slightly nervy first gig a few months ago Ricey now has a charismatic stage presence that comes from developing an excellent singing voice as exampled on early track Barkers, which has the heaving crowd transfixed by the haunting drum driven melody. Sometimes there are, unsurprisingly, echoes of Park Brigade, but with a much fuller sound and deeper moody vocals. Shotgun City is another favourite along with Ha Ha People, both of which can be found on their MySpace page. The closer Gardenstown nearly brings the house down. So, what’s next? A tour to the likes of London, Dundee, Manchester and more, means those places are in for a treat. Now with Threads Management, the band have the style, sound and backing to make the jump to the next level, catch them now while you can.