Tramlines 2018 Review

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2018 sees Tramlines, Sheffield’s inner-city music festival celebrate it’s 10th birthday. To celebrate the occasion, it moved to Hillsborough Park for what was advertised as ‘Sheffield’s Biggest Ever Party.’ I’d have to agree.

Friday

The one bad thing about Tramlines 2018 was that there were just too many acts I wanted to see! With the likes of The Orielles and Everything Everything playing at the same time I found myself dashing between the stages to catch a bit of everyone.

Kicking things off for me were The Big Moon.

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Playing a selection of top indie bangers from their Mercury nominated debut album alongside a brill cover of Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart, The Big Moon again proved themselves to be a perfect, energetic live band.

A quick run over to the Leadmill stage for Sheffield locals High Hazels next.DSCN2254.JPG

Pulling in a big crowd for that time of day, High Hazels delivered a very pleasant set of their slick, old-school indie.

Another quick dash from Leadmill to Main stage now for the bold Everything Everything.

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You can always rely on Everything Everything to be a brilliant live act, and during the only rainy spell of the weekend, the lads pulled it off, getting the crowd going with older hits such as ‘Regret’ alongside tracks from their last album ‘A Fever Dream’.

Next up were The Orielles.

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Another Yorkshire act, The Orielles played a very tight, energetic show full of tracks from their debut album ‘Silver Dollar Moment’ – if you ever get the chance to catch them live please do as Sid is an amazing drummer.

Friday’s headline act was Stereophonics.

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Kicking things off with their best track in recent years, ‘C’est La Vie’, the Welsh rock legends provided the perfect soundtrack for the Friday sunset, with massive hits like ‘Maybe Tomorrow ‘ and ‘Dakota’ really getting Sheff singing.

Saturday

The second day of Tramlines kicked off earlier, with both music and comedy beginning at around mid day. I saw some great, innovative comedy acts in the Leadmill tent to start my Saturday, including the amazing Foxdog Studios, who got everyone’s phones linked up for an interactive experience, and the hilarious Barbara Nice.

Music-wise, for me first up were Redfaces.

Lighting up the main stage with their fast-paced tunes like ‘Kerosene’ – the Sheffield lads proved they deserved that place on a big stage, and they owned it.

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After that, I nipped over to the Library Stage to catch Self Esteem, the solo project of Rebecca Taylor, formerly of Slow Club.

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Rebecca and her band put on a great show, with songs such as ‘Your Wife’ being a perfect Saturday afternoon soundtrack, with the weather slowly getting hotter and hotter.

Next up were Sheffield legends Reverend and the Makers, who had the rowdiest crowd of the weekend, and for good reason.

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From the get go, Jon and Co got the crowd bouncing, and I mean the entire park was shaking, with massive tunes like ‘Heavyweight Champion of the World’ and ‘Bassline’ really kicking things off, with people of all ages going for it.

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Saturday was a big indie night out, with Blossoms next up on the Main Stage.

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From their first track, ‘At Most A Kiss’, the Stockport favourites played a blinder of a set filled with crowdpleasers from their first two albums, and the irresistible ‘Charlamagne’ got the crowd nicely warmed up for Saturday’s headliner.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds were the closing act for the Tramlines 2018 Saturday.

DSCN3257.JPG While I was obviously excited for Noel, he really surpassed my expectations. He was noticeably really enjoying playing in Sheffield, and his enthusiasm quickly rubbed off on Hillsborough Park, with many a mass sing-a-long to be had. Playing a great mixture of solo and Oasis material, the elder Gallagher really shone on Saturday night.

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Sunday

Sunday for me was all about T’Other stage. Opening up the Tramlines Sunday for me were quick rising Sheff band The Seamonsters.

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Pulling a big crowd for the time of day, the Sheff six piece played a great, energetic set that proved to be the perfect start to the day.

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Next up was Nina Nesbitt.

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Playing a selection of her recent singles and older tracks as well as teasing some upcoming new tunes, Nina really impressed me with just how good she was live, witha  great vocal performance and stage prescence.

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After Nina were Gengahr.

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Beautifully playing tracks from their first two albums, including fan favourites like ‘She’s A Witch’ and recent hit ‘Carrion’, Gengahr played to a pretty much full T’Other Stage tent on the Sunday afternoon.

Following on from Gengahr were Little Comets.

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Little Comets really had Sheffield dancing with their upbeat indie rock, playing a great, tight set despite being down a member.

Next up, Pale Waves.

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Pale Waves are perhaps the buzziest band in the country at the moment, and they played a set that showed just why they have risen up so quickly, with the tent packed out to see the Manchester band play their indie pop to perfection.

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After Pale Waves, it was to the Main Stage for the last time of the weekend for De La Soul.

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One of the liveliest acts of the festival, De La Soul definitely won in terms of crowd participation, really getting the crowd involved in call-and-response games in between their legendary tracks like ‘Me Myself and I’. Another act who genuinely seemed to really enjoy playing to the Sheffield crowd.

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The final act of the weekend for me were Teleman, over on the Library Stage.

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Another of Britain’s Tightest Bands™, Teleman played a brilliant set of tracks from their first two albums, as well as tracks from their upcoming ‘Family of Aliens’ album, with ‘Song for a Seagull’ being a set highlight for me. Closing with the absolute banger that is Dusseldorf, they were the perfect end to a great weekend.


 

Tramlines 2018 was definitely Sheffield’s biggest ever party, and there was a really positive attitude throughout the park all weekend, with literally everybody having a good time. With organisation, food and entertainment that good it’s hard not to.

You could easily tell the amount of effort and love put into the event by Sarah Nulty and her team, and it paid off in a massive way. Roll on 2019.

Check out my full photo gallery from the weekend here!

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You can buy tickets for Tramlines 2019 already here. I would if I were you.

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Gorillaz – The Now Now Review

I was quite worried when I heard that a new Gorillaz album would be coming so soon after the last, with the collab-heavy Humanz being released just over a year ago in April 2017. There was no need to worry.

A lot has changed since 2017 in the world of Gorillaz, with Murdoc currently in Jail and temporarily replaced by Ace, ex-traumatiser of the Powerpuff Girls. This has left 2D in charge of the music, and with the album we have got out of it I wouldn’t rush to free Murdoc.

Opening track and lead single Humility is a lovely, bouncy, summery song that features George Benson and is very catchy indeed; the song’s slick, shimmery production continues throughout the album and the quality of the tracks is consistently brilliant.

Second track Tranz is an album highlight, a complete contrast to the breezy Humility, it is a dark, groovy synth track that shows how varied and interesting a Gorillaz project can be without the need for an onslaught of features.  Hollywood is another groovy cut, featuring Humanz staple Jamie Principle and a great verse from Snoop that elevates the track. The half spoken/sung chorus really works well with the instrumental here as it’s not too over the top.

Another highlight on the album for me is Idaho. A country ballad of sorts, the track sounds amazingly peaceful and grand without being at all bland, being very simple on the surface, but with each listen you notice another little layer there.

Usually i’m not a fan of instrumental tracks, especially in an album context. Lake Zurich is just too much of a bop to ignore though, and instantly becoming one of the most memorable songs off the album.

The album closes with a trio of slower songs, each managing to sound different to the next, with One Percent sounding like a sad distress call from space and Souk Eye’s slow fade out xylophone giving me the feeling of the end of a great movie or gig that you don’t want to end.

This is the best Damon project since 2010’s Plastic Beach, and he has massively topped Humanz, which while I still enjoyed really doesn’t compare much to this.

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Best Three: Tranz, Idaho, Souk Eye

Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino Review.

This is by no means the most immediately catchy or banger-filled album of the year, but it was obviously never meant to be.

Featuring some of Alex Turner’s finest lyrics yet, ‘Tranquility Base’ is a brilliantly deep and masterfully constructed concept album, that after a few listens, might just be up there with some of the best things they have ever done.

Opener ‘Star Treatment’ sets the tone for the album perfectly; with lines like ‘What do you mean you’ve never seen Blade Runner’ this is a really charming and witty set of songs. Thankfully the Yorkshire is clearly heard on this album too, with phrases like ‘anorl’ thrown in for good measure.

Closing track ‘The Ultracheese’ showcases some of Alex’s finest and most personal songwriting to date, while mid album highlight ‘Four Out of Five’ is a real toe-tapper, with Beatles-esque harmonies on the chorus and an infectious groove throughout.

It’s certainly a bold move from the Sheffield lads, but it definitely paid off.

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Kali Uchis – Isolation Review

While the debut album from Colombia-American artist Kali Uchis boasts many impressive features from the likes of Tyler The Creator, Damon Albarn & Jorja Smith, it’s Kali’s vision that shines through.

The singles leading up to the album’s release, like ‘After The Storm’ and ‘Tyrant’ were all brilliant, with each of them having distinct different vibes while still showcasing Kali’s charm. This quality and variety carries through the whole project.

Standout tracks like the irresistibly groovy ‘Your Teeth In My Neck’ and the upbeat Gorillaz-esque ‘In My Dreams’ further showcase her incredible songwriting ability and just how good a performer she is.

Yet another effortless genre-hop comes in the form of the Tame Impala collab ‘Tomorrow’. There isn’t a single track that feels forced or out of place on in the tracklist. Every feature actually adds something to their track rather than just being there for the sake of it.

This debut album proves that Kali is here to stay, and we should all just embrace it.

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Tramlines 2017 Review

FRIDAY

Opening up the main stage for this year’s Tramlines were local band Liberty Ship, who definitely deserved that big slot, providing an upbeat set of crowd-pleasing indie rock that kicked things off proper.

Following on from Liberty Ship were Scottish rockers Twin Atlantic.TA9.JPG

Drawing a big crowd fairly early on, Twin Atlantic were one of the tightest acts of the weekend, kicking their set off with ‘Whispers’ from last year’s GLA album.

After a few songs from them however, I had to dash over to the Devonshire Green stage to catch US Hip Hop Legends The Pharcyde. PS2.JPG

One of the most high-energy, fun sets of the weekend came from The Pharcyde.

Getting the crowd moving and making noise on every song, and Bootie doing his part from Dirty Harry by Gorillaz was one of my highlights of the weekend.

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Closing the Devonshire Green stage on Friday was Mercury nominated grime legend Kano.  Alongside an incredible live band, Kano performed cuts from his latest album, Made in The Manor alongside some old favourites. Many big grime acts have someone else to fill in the gaps when they need to take a breath bars, but Kano did not need that at all, effortlessly spitting even through the rain.

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SATURDAY

Saturday was wet. But that didn’t stop Sheffield. The first act of the day for me were the ever-brilliant Estrons.

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As punchy as ever, Estrons delivered a great set to an upbeat Dev Green crowd despite the threatening weather, with big hitters ‘Make a Man’ and ‘Drop’ getting the slightly damp crowd moving.

Next up were another act that I had seen a few times before, and knew that they would be great; Spring King.

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I was expecting a good crowd for Spring King, but they had the liveliest crowd of the weekend, with most songs ending up with a mosh pit, much to the delight of Tarek and co.

After a short, very wet interlude, it was time for the Saturday night headliners, Primal Scream.

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A large amount of people had left before Primal Scream had even started, the weather was that bad. But those who braved the rain knew they had made the right decision as soon as the opening of ‘Movin on Up’ blasted out across the Ponderosa. A greatest hits set in the biggest way possible, massive track like ‘Loaded’, ‘Rocks’ and ‘Come Together’ did their best to shake away the clouds.

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SUNDAY

Having mostly dried off from the night before, it was out to the main stage for Akala.

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Akala drew a massive crowd for 3 in the afternoon, bringing his fire from the booth to the Tramlines main stage.

After Akala’s short and sharp set, Loyle Carner took to the (very smartly dressed) stage.

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Launching into his set with ‘The Isle of Arran’, Loyle played a blinder of a set, getting a great reception from the main stage crowd. Witty lyrics with great delivery made for one of the highlights of the festival, with set closer ‘NO CD’ going off in a big way.

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After Loyle, it was back over to Devonshire Green for The Big Moon. tbm13.JPG

Starting off with ‘Silent Movie Susie’ before ripping through most of ‘Love in the 4th Dimension’, The Big Moon were one of the best acts of the weekend.

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Closing Tramlines 2017 were Metronomy.m6.JPG

Despite it being another wet one, the main stage was rammed. ‘Back Together’ from ‘Summer ’08’ kicked off Metronomy’s hit filled set, with ‘Old Skool’ from the same album following that. The whole hour was filled with memorable synth lines that got Sheffield grooving in the rain, from ‘The Bay’ right through to closer ‘Reservoir’. The final, and best act of the weekend.

Overall, another great year for Tramlines. Very well organised with very friendly, helpful staff and one of the most diverse festival lineups I have seen this year.

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