Midlake and John Grant at the Leadmill, Sheffield, 29 June 2010

Since we’ve moved to Sheffield, I haven’t been to see any gigs up here, which is sad for me because I love seeing bands play live. So I was really looking forward to seeing Midlake, who had just come from playing Glastonbury.

The support act, John Grant formerly of the Czars, won over the crowd immediately by saying that he had always wanted to come to Sheffield as he’s a fan of Cabaret Voltaire – although his music couldn’t have been more different to the electro-punk pioneers. Rather, it was very piano- and guitar-based, backing up his incredible voice. His set was short, but I loved it, and definitely wasn’t the only one of the audience who was left wanting more. I hadn’t encountered Grant’s work before the show, but it’s very intense, with wry, bittersweet, self-deprecating and often very funny lyrics. ‘Sigourney Weaver’ made me laugh out loud. First thing I did when I went home from the gig was to download his album The Queen of Denmark. It’s great stuff.

Here’s ‘I Wanna go to Marz’, the video’s kind of disturbing, just to warn you.

I liked Midlake a lot before I saw them play but I love them now. They clearly enjoy playing together, and their music has a lot of depth and texture that works best when played live. They’re also unashamedly unfashionable, and not in a knowing, ironic sense either. I got America and Fleetwood Mac in the harmonising vocals, but more organic and folksy. Hard to properly pin down.


Taken with my mobile, and not a great photo, I’m afraid, as it doesn’t really give you the scale of the band (there were seven onstage) but hopefully gives you a flavour of what they’re like – the guitarist at the front also played the flute, in fact, there were often two flutes playing at the same time. Here’s their video of their best-known song ‘Roscoe’, they played a blinding version of it on the night.

A problem with Sheffield is that the bands I want to see usually go to Manchester or Leeds. Steve doesn’t want to go so far afield to see bands on a week night, so I’ll just have to go by myself. The alternative is to resign myself to only seeing live music when it comes to town, and after seeing Midlake and John Grant, and enjoying the experience so much, I’m not sure I want to accept that quite yet.

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