I am a veteran of 9 Leeds Festivals and in my younger days I would plan my whole year around 5 sordid days at Branham Park. As the quality of the line up declined and I got older however, Leeds fest became less and less appealing. I never thought another festival would fill the Leeds fest shaped hole in my schedule but 2016 is my 6th Tramlines in a row and the fact that I have organized my honeymoon around it suggests that it has become pretty important…
Day 1 began in a unfamiliar way at a venue that is new to the Tramlines roster but an institution in Sheffield generally. Showrooms cinema kicked off their weekend shenanigans with Night Thoughts – a conceptual film paired with the Suede album of the same name. Director Roger Sargent has produced a film that fits perfectly with Suede’s latest album and it was genuinely exciting to hear the record through cinema speakers. A Q & A with Suede members Mat Osman and multi instrumentalist Neil Codling was illuminating and they kindly agreed to pose for pictures and chat with audience members afterwards.
From there, it was over to the Leadmill to catch the highly tipped InHeaven. The South London band have recently released a single on Julian Casablancas’ record label, so they obviously mean business. The band seemed genuinely delighted with the turn out and their Jesus and Mary Chain meets classic rock sound went down well with the Leadmill crowd, particularly on new single ‘Baby’s Alright’.
One of the best things about a festival is randomly discovering new bands, something I must admit I haven’t had much luck with at Tramlines. Following InHeaven at the Leadmill were Zuzu. After spending ages lurking near a table, waiting to get a seat, it is a testament to the Liverpool band that they had me back on my feet after just one song, and with my bad knees as well. Impressive. Zuzu sounds a little like a more sweary Courtney Barnett but with a Rilo Kiley country twang. The singer has a great voice and I will be watching their progress with interest after a strong set.
Lastly, it was over to The Enemy for their last ever Sheffield gig. It is easy to sneer at The Enemy with their complete lack of self awareness (Music For The People anyone?) but I revisited their first album in the run up to Tramlines this year and I had forgotten just how good it is. The music industry seemed to dismiss The Enemy as Paul Weller copycats for idiots in football shirts but you know what? Go and watch them live. There are tons of much more critically lauded bands who would kill to get a crowd reaction like the one that Tom Clarke and co. received on Friday night.
The Coventry band wisely played a We’ll Live And Die In These Towns heavy set, with ‘Away From Here’, ‘Had Enough’, ‘It’s Not OK’ and the title track all rapturously received by an adoring Sheffield crowd. I’ve never properly seen The Enemy until now. I saw them supporting Oasis but the sound was terrible and I think I saw them at the Doncaster Dome but if I did I must have been so drunk that the night is lost in the annals of time forever. I am glad that I had the chance to see them at the peak of their powers before they call it a day.
All in all a quality start to my new favourite festival. Bring on day 2.