Review: Tramlines Festival 2019

Following a rain-swept opening day that was still blessed with the likes of Two Door Cinema Club, Manic Street Preachers, Circa Waves, Sea Girls and Easy Life, festival goers awoke to positive sights as the sun rose in defiance for day two of Sheffield-based Tramlines Festival. With Courteeners, Shame, Johnny Marr, Jade Bird, Miles Kane and local heroes Reverend and the Makers gracing the four stages on offer, punters were left with a variety of viewing options.


Casey Lowry’s prolific blend of dreamy indie pop gathered a large crowd early on, with the likes of Trampoline, a track the singer-songwriter wrote at the age of fourteen, and Boyfriend, his most recent release proving instant crowd favourites. The Laura Hayden fronted London indie-rock quartet Anteros treated fans to a hit-laden set from debut record When We Land, many of which took a gleaming new form on the live set-up, but all provided apt entertainment from a band reaching new heights in creative drive.


Catrin Vincent’s lurching vocals have made Another Sky an enticing prospect over the past six months and their haunting show on T’Other Stage was encapsulated as the soaring vocals and guitar of Apple Tree and set-closer Avalanche came crashing down over a dumbstruck crowd.


Miles Kane has always cut a striking figure on stage, whether that’s alongside best mate and Sheffield local boy Alex Turner with The Last Shadow Puppets, or on his now blooming solo career. Following the release of shimmering third record Coup De Grace last year, Kane’s main stage show was as pompously stylish as you might expect for a man regularly used to promoting the fashion world’s most extravagant names. Too Little Too Late was swiftly followed by an electric Inhaler whilst a cover of Donna Summer’s Hot Stuff proved fitting as the sun glared down upon an ecstatic crowd.


Despite the complete contrast in global status, it’s not far fetched to dub Cassia’s sun-kissed tropical-based melodies as a British strand to Vampire Weekend’s early material. The bouncing, light-hearted drum frills from Loosen Up and 100 Times Over proved easy pleasers for a crowd slightly devoid of the New York skyline that inspired Ezra Koenig and co. over ten years ago and their thirty minute set of calypso-laden tracks flew by as quickly as a subtle breeze on a July summer’s day.


With her highly resonant voice and R&B influenced style, mass collaborator Becky Hill has provided the vocals for some of pop’s biggest recent hits. Now starting to wield a deserving solo career under her own game, Hill’s set on T’Other Stage was crammed with rowdy teenagers and filled with wall-to-wall bangers as the likes of Piece Of Me and Gecko (Overdrive)got a rejuvenated crowd dancing.


Over on The Leadmill stage, the Cambridge-educated and London based six-piece Sports Team highlighted why they have been hailed as one of British rock’s future lights by many leading publications. Fronted by the charismatic and flailing Alex Rice, Sports Team are a destructive yet invigorating presence. Bounding across the stage, Rice’s screeching vocals illuminated the likes of M5 before the frontman scuttled up a lighting rig to watch over his devout and sweaty followers as the set then closed with a sea of limbs being carried away by the mosh pits.


Currently one of the globe’s most exciting talents, Welsh-based singer-songwriter Jade Bird’s music traverses Americana, country, folk and rock, making the 21-year old’s set a blistering delight. Performing a range of tracks from her self-titled debut LP, Bird took to stage with her band and her now-iconic red jumpsuit before launching into the likes of Good At It. Whilst the likes of Lottery and My Motto showcased Bird as a figurehead for the new-generation, Ruins was performed with a serene level of mature artistry that is rare to find in an artist of her youth. A cover of Walk Like An Egyptian riled a growing crowd and Bird’s set was a rollicking success from an artist who already looks to be exceeding expectations laid upon her after the release of her debut record.


If Shame frontman Charlie Steen has on off button, you’d have to look extremely hard to find it. Rejecting the chance to see headliners Courteeners on what seems to be another honeymoon period for the swaggering indie rock titans on the premise that we’ve seen their flare-filled foot-stomping set three times in as many months, we opted to see a band who over the past eighteen months have been obliterating stages across the nation with their sleazy brand of punk-inspired rock. Alongside the likes of IDLES, Fat White Family and Cabbage, Shame are leading the battle charge for a resurgent punk-dominated scene. Playing a catalogue of tracks from 2018’s industrious debut Songs of Praise, the Fall-inspired South London upstarts gave a wildly unpredictable yet utterly exhilarating performance. The Lick‘s churning chorus commanded hysteria amongst the crowd as Steen’s sweeping vocals opened mosh pits instantaneously. One Rizla and Concrete were notable highlights whilst the hour-long show offered time for the five-piece to showcase new material.


As day two closed in blistering fashion, punters poured out of Hillsborough with high expectations for Tramlines’ finale. With day three headlined by the illustrious CHIC and Nile Rodgers, appearances from Rag’n’Bone Man, Lewis Capaldi and Tom Grennan will orchestrate the crowd in mass singalongs rather than contagious mosh pits. Here’s to another day of heightened expectations and good weather.

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