The concept of Tramlines is a fairly simple yet musically brilliant idea which is the brainchild of Matt Helders, Jon McClure and Toddla T – the idea? Well, basically music takes over Sheffield for a whole weekend, from the massive outdoor stage on Devonshire Green to various venues in and around Sheffield. After looking over the colourful program which is adorned by the familiar image created by Pete McKee we decided to head towards the Frog and Parrot, after all there is so much to choose from but the bands who were performing at that venue were too good to miss.
We got in the packed out to the rafters Frog and Parrot just in time for The Cartels, it was manic in there, I haven’t seen the Frog and Parrot so busy in years! The Cartels started their set with a good guitar riff which impressed the on looking crowd so much they received a good round of applause instantly, the music was very listenable and very catchy, so catchy I found myself singing along without even knowing it. Looking around you could see everybody nodding away to the solid drum beat and bass. Their song ‘Shout It Out’ for me was their most memorable track, what with the excellent drum and bass start and hair curling riffs, this song was obviously a winner, and the applause and cheers which followed proved that!
The next band to literally squeeze into the small performance space was the fantastic Dead Like Harry who I’d seen only a couple of weeks ago. Again the crowd like last time evolved into a more mature following with friends of the band standing right at the front to offer their undying support. Instantly Samuel J Taylor the vocalist encouraged the crowd shouting and clapping “make some noise!” whilst everyone else in the six piece band created a dramatic musical start to their set which then developed into a wonderful dancy tune which got everyone dancing and clapping. Their feel good sound affecting everyone around them, the pleasure on everyone’s faces as the performance unfolds is just so obvious. The vocal of Alice Faraday is just amazing and compliments Samuels so well. I have to say their set seemed a lot more rockier than when I last saw them and I would have made more notes but I was so engrossed with the performance I didn’t! Dead Like Harry are amazing performers and everyone were genuinely disappointed when Samuel announced their final song of the evening ‘Satellite’ which really ended their set well an inspiring band which I’d definitely see whenever I can
Next up was the northern soul/performance poet Skint & Demoralised who I’d heard and read about so much recently so having the pleasure of watching Matt Abbott and MiNI dOG do their thing was an interesting experience. Again the crowd evolved into a more studenty/young adult following which is quite amazing in such a small space! There was a slight technical hitch but it was soon put right and everything continued. Matt explained that he’d messaged Cheryl Cole on Twitter which inspired his next poem which he then recited with such enthusiasm and everyone in the crowd listened intently and applauded with some vigour. Matt gave us performances about Blackpool, the BNP, which was an anti racist rant (done in a witty way) which began something like this (which I might have got wrong in some places due to my messy scribbling..!?) “In a Turkish kebab shop, served through Swedish armchairs and Belgian beer and ended in the back of taxi built by Germans and driven by a Pole.” and of course their début single ‘Red Lipstick’. I have to say Matt Abbott is such a wordsmith with the well written lyrics and really just listening to his words and wisdom is entertaining in itself he reminds me of The Streets mixed with The Jam if that makes any sense? Skint & demoralised to me are hard to describe which I think is what makes this act so brilliantly unique, if you haven’t already seen these lads do their stuff make sure you do, because believe me you won’t see another performance like it!
The last live act of the night at The Frog and Parrot was Orange 38. It took a bit of time trying to fit everyone in and to get their sound system going but after the initial delay Orange 38’s Paddy really let rip on the crowd with the surprise on so many faces his ‘in your face’ performance was still a surprise to some apparently! Paddy was bouncing around shouting “I want to see you bounce…” obviously some of the crowd obliged but others needed more persuasion, and paddy was the man to do it! The start of the set was quite unusual because usually they start with ‘Be Aggressive ’but this time they started with a track (which I think was called ‘I lost my lady tonight’) a newly written track which has the promise of becoming another crowd pleaser. Then came their famous ‘Be Aggressive’ track without its usual introduction, then more new material – which is a delight to hear because the older material are now becoming classics with their regular fans, now we have something else to listen to and enjoy. Then more crowd pleasers which is the reason I try to see this fantastic band as often as I can they are entertainment personified, a great night, and its obvious to me that Tramlines should happen every year, lets make sure it does.