Saturday 9 May 2009

The Hours, Sheffield Leadmill

Things were a bit bleak in Sheffield in 1980. The steel industry was in steep decline and there wasn’t much future for the youth of Sheffield. Amongst this background, in a derelict flour mill in a rundown part of the city a mix of volunteers consisting of students, artists and the unemployed came together to set up a venue for people like themselves who had nowhere to go. The Leadmill was born.

Tonight, we are stood in that old flour mill sipping half pint bottles of Newcastle Brown and listening to London’s The Glasslights, who are very good. As seems to be the case with almost all support bands these days.

By the way, if you thought that pint bottles of Newcastle Brown were overpriced in clubs, wait until you get acquainted with these new measures. Frighteningly expensive. Anyhow back to the Glasslights. On first listen they appear to have some quality songs and I’m sure someone somewhere is touting them, along with all the other bands that are being touted, as the next big thing. It’ll be interesting to see what develops. The band release their first single this summer, entitled ‘Someone Like Me’ or as Andrew the lead singer kept telling us, you can get it now for £2 from one of their gigs.

So to local boy Anthony Genn, who together with pianist Martin Slattery are the nuclei of The Hours. Although the band have now been extended to a six piece live unit. Genn is a former member of Pulp but he gained notoriety when he streaked on stage with Elastica at Glastonbury in 1995. The band have just finished a support slot with Kasabian, now there’s an odd mix.

Genn makes for a confident and cocky front man who banters freely with the crowd, many of whom seem to know him personally. If you were not a Sheffield-ite or a football fan, you would have been well lost when the discussion turned to a certain Sheffield United striker who missed a sitter in the previous evening's play-off game.

They open with 'These Days' off the new album but the band are soon dipping into their ‘Narcissus Road’ album. ‘Narcissus Road’ was a hell of a good album and not just for its Damien Hirst artwork. The title track, third track up tonight, sounds particularly fantastic.

The new album also has artwork, as well as funding from Hirst. Can it be as good? Well, probably not. New numbers like ‘Come On’ are fairly predictable and inoffensive. Probably having too many soft-rock Coldplay or even Keane moments.

‘Car Crash’ is better. An ode to an ex-girlfriend, where Genn describes their relationship as a car crash and appears to regret starting it. He claims that he still thinks of her ‘sometimes but not that often’. Yeah right mate. You’ve been thinking about her so little you’ve written a song about it! Get over her, move on.

Slattery comes out from behind his keyboards to blow on one of those pocket organ type things for their new single ‘Big Black Hole’. A song about alcoholism. In fact there aren’t many uplifting songs in the Hours armoury; Genn seems to have had a somewhat colourful past.

So to ‘Ali In The Jungle’ which is simply brutal. Still one hell of a good record.

The place is almost jumping by now, although ‘Think Again’ slows the tone a little followed by ‘People Say’ which has been used in the opening scenes of Hollyoaks but we won’t use that against it. Then again what band hasn’t been featured in Hollyoaks.

By the time they close the set with ‘Murder Or Suicide’ there’s even dancing going on. Weird.

They encore with ‘Back When You Were Good’ and then close a near note-perfect set with last year’s single and title track of the new album ‘See The Light’.

For once it’s me, who doesn’t get their favourite played, no 'Love You More' tonight. Odd, considering it was a single.

Genn tells everyone to go home and spread the word, even if it’s only to the family pet. Well I’ll compromise. I’ll whisper it; if they got big we’d lose these intimate moments in the back room of that flour mill.

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