Hello! I’ve just got home from the first two gigs of my tour, in Bristol and London. They were brilliant; I’ll write something more about them later. But for now – before I head on to Birmingham on Thursday – here’s a look ahead to the three shows I’m playing this weekend.
Saturday 5 October: Nottingham
I would say Nottingham is a second home to me, in terms of my music, but it’s more like a first home. Down the years I’ve probably played more fulfilling and memorable gigs there – solo and with bands – than at home in Sheffield. There’s nowhere in the world I’d sooner live than Sheffield, but there’s a sort of openness about music in Nottingham that suits me. It helps that I’ve got loads of dead good mates there an’ all.
This is an afternoon show at the Chameleon – a ramshackle ‘arts café’ where, latterly, many of those fulfilling and memorable gigs have taken place. And where the ceiling nearly collapsed when Standard Fare played the other year. There should be little danger of that when I visit next week, with a proper acoustic show in the downstairs room, beginning at 1:30 in the afternoon, but you never know.
Sheffield’s very marvellous Robberie are joining me for two gigs on this tour. This is the first. I’ll say a bit more about them in the final preview below. Great to see on the bill, also, the endlessly inventive Vom Vorton (also noted for fronting Lardpony, one of the most smile-o-genic bands of the Second Wave of UK indiepop). I haven’t heard Hawks & Other Birds yet but I have a good feeling about the whole thing. Nottingham!
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Saturday 5 October: Sheffield
After the Nottingham gig in the afternoon I’ll be travelling back to Sheffield by helicopter to perform at the New Barrack Tavern in the evening. Two gigs in two cities in one day!
OK, helicopter, East Midlands Trains, whatever. But the two gigs in two cities in one day bit is completely true! I was asked to play this only after confirming the gigs at the Chameleon (above) and Rutland Arms (below). So I looked at the times and thought, yeah, sod it, why not, eh? I don’t know any of the other acts and it’ll probably be plugged in instead of proper acoustic. So it’s like a throwback to the solo gigs I used to play back in the mid-00s. Should be fun! Let’s just hope the trains are running on time…
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Sunday 6 October: Sheffield again
Finally, fittingly, the Rutland Arms. The last night of my tour, in my favourite pub.
I’m thrilled that Nat Johnson will be playing this date, which is essentially the launch gig for The Glass Delusion. Indeed, I feel a little ridiculous going on after her, given Nat’s track record with Monkey Swallows the Universe and then with her erstwhile backing band the Figureheads. MSTU were perhaps the first local band I fell in love with when I moved to Sheffield in 2004. When I played a gig at their flat they were an obscure, quirky duo; a couple of years later they were a swish five-piece packing out the Leadmill and getting famous on the radio.
Monkey Swallows the Universe were one of the bands that came up the first time I spoke to Robin Byles about music. I became close friends with Robin when I worked alongside him for a year at the University of Sheffield recently. He told me he’d started playing acoustic pop in a band called Robberie and linked me to their demo. I was hooked. If you haven’t heard them, you must listen immediately. There’s a wide-eyed, guileless quality to their beautiful songs which is rare and precious in these post-post-post-ironic times.
(Curiously, Nat, too, has just started working for the same august institution that employs Robin and me. So this could scarcely be a more University of Sheffield-themed gig if we staged it in the Arts Tower and asked John’s Van to provide the catering.)
What possible reason could you have for not coming? It’s gonna be amazing!
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