Bill Ryder Jones (formerly of The Coral) is an artist in stark contrast to Spector vocalist Fred Macpherson. Where Jones mumbles to the crowd, Macpherson takes photos on his phone and chats away in between songs. Spector’s hook heavy sing-along’s are a world away from Ryder Jones’ more introspective ballads. It is this contrast that makes Ryder Jones work so well in support of Spector though and the sheer quality of the former Coral guitarists songs wins the crowd over early and by set closer Satellites everyone is on his side.
Spector emerge a half hour later to rapturous applause and launch straight into Lately It’s You which still sounds strong after a successful airing at Glastonbury earlier this year. Starting with a slower song is always a risk but it just means that follow up Never Fade Away is even more well received than normal with the crowd hungry for the first big sing along of the night.
It’s hard to pin down a Spector crowd. Perhaps too poppy for the snobbier indie kids, and the lack of aspirational lyrics, replaced instead by forlorn longing, make Spector uncomfortable bedfellows with footy fan ‘lad’ bands such as The Enemy or Kasabian. What’s left is a strange mix of students and solicitors, trendy haircuts and Rivers Cuomo glasses, those out for a drink and a good time and the music geeks hoping to pick up a limited edition 7″. As Macpherson himself noted half way through the gig ‘the right side of the crowd know more of the words but the left side seem to be having a better time… maybe the more you listen to the album you worse time you have’.
A strangely subdued Bad Boyfriend is the only slight low point of the gig but Stay High had the crowd bouncing again with its fist pumping anthemic chorus. Spector’s entire back catalogue is awash with fist pumping, anthemic chorus’ and it is this combined with their stage presence that makes them such a force on the live music scene.
By the time Twenty Nothing‘s bridge of ‘ONE you started coming over, TWO you started sleeping over, THREE you started taking over, FOUR YOU TOLD ME IT WAS OVER’ kicked in the crowd were completely won over and from here the show at Sheffield Leadmill became by far the best live performance from Spector I have seen.
Having witnessed Spector at both tiny Sheffield venue Queens Social Club and packing one of the bigger tents at Leeds fest, it is clear that Macpherson is at home at any level, probably as a result of continuous touring with Spector as well as with previous bands Les Incompetents and Ox. Eagle. Lion. Man. This gives Macpherson a comfortable stage presence and with the crowd on side the whole band are an engaging spectacle, particularly bassist Tom Shickle who looks like he might explode with happiness at any moment.
After the frenzied noise of Twenty Nothing, Spector slow things down with Believe, Kyoto Garden and Cocktail Party/Heads in quick succession. Cocktail Party particularly sounds great, and the repeated refrain outro of Heads is shouted back at the band with enthusiasm.
Then with little warning Spector drop Celestine… and the crowd loses its shit. Macpherson and Shickle are clearly impressed with the Sheffield audiences sea of utter chaos as the fans at the front sing along and those in the middle are pushed from one side to another. Having barely caught their breath it is straight into another fan favourite in Friday Night, Don’t Ever Let It End.
Using from new album Moth Boys gives the crowd time to pick up contact lenses, frantically try and find their shoes and go to the bar before Chevy Thunder makes it all kick off again for scenes usually reserved for a much heavier band with a circle pit even opening up a couple of times. After proclaiming ‘this is the longest Spector set ever’ at 17 songs, Macpherson thanks the Sheffield crowd and the fact you can tell he fucking means it makes it all the difference.
The London band save their best moment for last however with unstoppable single ‘All The Sad Young Men’ getting the sing along treatment it deserves. Why songs such as this are ignored whilst bands like Bastille and The 1975 continue to be played everywhere is a mystery but the crowd know they have witnessed something special .
As the knackered but happy audience files out you get the feeling that Spector at Sheffield Leadmill will be a gig that both the crowd and the band remember for years to come.