Pulp’s 1993 Guide to Sheffield – NME Sheffield Sound City supplement

Sheffield Sound City 1993

In April 1993, Sheffield hosted the then annual Sound City event. This meant BBC Radio 1 came to town and there were live broadcasts, gigs, workshops and films.

Here is the NME supplement from that time, including Jarvis Cocker’s guide to the city.

Click or tap to enlarge.

Pulp's Guide to Sheffield Sound City - NME cutting 1/5

Pulp’s Guide to Sheffield Sound City – NME cutting 1/5

Pulp's Guide to Sheffield Sound City - NME cutting 2/5

Pulp’s Guide to Sheffield Sound City – NME cutting 2/5

Pulp's Guide to Sheffield Sound City - NME cutting 3/5

Pulp’s Guide to Sheffield Sound City – NME cutting 3/5

Pulp's Guide to Sheffield Sound City - NME cutting 4/5

Pulp’s Guide to Sheffield Sound City – NME cutting 4/5

Pulp's Guide to Sheffield Sound City - NME cutting 5/5

Pulp’s Guide to Sheffield Sound City – NME cutting 5/5


A Sheffield song called Seven hills

Robberie’s song about our city

Find out more on robberie.com. The single is available from Record Collector or Tonearm Vinyl, or digitally on iTunes, Bandcamp, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon and more.

TNB Indie Arcade, Sheffield

The Nichols building in Shalesmoor just got twice as good

TNB Indie Arcade

TNB Indie Arcade

Since opening in 2011 in a vast former wholesale grocers in Shalesmoor, the Nichols building has established itself as a destination vintage arts and crafts emporium.

A few weeks ago, TNB Indie Arcade opened on the ground floor. At the moment it’s all about independent retail but one day it could host gigs, cinema, theatre and club nights.

I spoke to Matt Abbott from TNB Indie Arcade about his plans for the space, the latest on his musical projects and moving to Sheffield.

1970s caravan in TNB Indie Arcade

1970s caravan in TNB Indie Arcade

TNB Indie Arcade has been up and running indoors on the ground floor of the Nichols building since July. Is it a separate thing to the Nichols building and owned or run by different people?

The ground floor did actually exist as TNB Indie Arcade before we took over on 1 July. It was run by the same person that still runs the first floor, although it was more of a secondary overspill than it’s own individual space.

So since we’ve taken over, we’ve really transformed it into a unique business and it’s already starting to gather quite a distinctive and intriguing style. I think the centre pieces so far are the fantastic 1970s pop-out caravan and the old church pulpit that we use as the sales desk!

Also we’re conscious that each unit has a really imposing style, so that it feels as though every corner offers something completely different whilst still fitting in with the style of the whole room. It’s a fantastic project and we’re really pleased with how much we’ve progressed in the first five weeks or so.

Yorkshire Tee at TNB Indie Arcade

Yorkshire Tee at TNB Indie Arcade

Tell us about the sorts of retailers you’ve got in TNB Indie Arcade and what they’re offering.

We have everything from mini retro £1.50 greetings cards to fantastic antique furniture and original artwork. The vast majority of our dealers treat their units as hobbies so whilst it does provide a little extra income, it’s also a labour of love. And I think this is really reflected in the standard and the quality of the products that they bring in.

A&D Creations have a workshop here and make some fantastic glass work and jewellery. Steel City Retro are constantly bringing in a diverse range of records into the vintage caravan. Reverse Gear Interiors has some amazing furniture, and other units such as Love Me, Heartily Homemade, Northern Sewn and Cute as a Button bring superb home made gifts and decorative pieces.

We also have original artwork by Tracy White, MJT Artwork and Simon Abbott, as well as original photography by Gordie Cavill.

Also, we’ve recently added Yorkshire Tee, who are currently the most popular t-shirt designers in the city.

TNB Indie Arcade

TNB Indie Arcade

How have the first few weeks been?

They’ve been truly fantastic. Seeing the space gradually evolve day by day is really satisfying, and working so closely with the dealers gives you an appreciation of the time and effort and also the care that goes into their products.

It’s great socialising with customers and meeting so many talented people. And let’s face it; turning up to work somewhere like TNB Indie Arcade doesn’t really feel like a proper job! We’re very lucky to be involved.

As well as the retail arcade, it sounds like you have plenty of other interesting spaces in the building. What are your plans for making the most of them?

We do have a shared courtyard which is currently used for fairs and events. However we’re running a few small events in the retail arcade, and our long term plans include extending into the cellar. It’s a superb space, reminiscent of The Cavern or a much larger version of Club 60, and there’s fantastic potential down there for film screenings and alternative club nights.

The evening events will be an extension of the cultures that we celebrate in the daytime retail space; vintage and alternative lifestyles, and particularly 1960s Britain. I’m a huge fan of the Mod scene and so I really want a few Northern Soul-driven Quadrophenia nights in here eventually!

The first event that we’re running is on Tuesday 18 September and will include spoken word sets, acoustic sets, ’60s DJs and most importantly, cheap alcohol.

The main Nichols Building has been open about two years now. How is it going – I expect there have been some ups and downs in that time?

I can’t personally speak from experience, but obviously a good proportion of our trade is down to the Nichols building having already been established as a great vintage space. People know about the Nichols; they just don’t necessarily know about the ground floor. But obviously we plan on dramatically changing that!

I thought I recognised the name Matt Abbott. Are you the same punk poet/frontman from Skint & Demoralised?

I am indeed. To be honest we won’t be writing or recording as Skint & Demoralised any more after the release of our third album The Bit Between The Teeth in April, although I still regularly perform punk poetry sets and have several new writing projects in progress.

I’m working on a new album and this time we’ve brought a third writer on board, so it’ll be different to S&D. Apart from that, I can’t really divulge much information at this stage I’m afraid!

Finally, did you think twice about moving down to Sheffield from Wakefield? And have your impressions of the city changed since you moved down here?

No, not in the slightest. Obviously I love Wakefield because it’s my home town, and I still spend a decent amount of time there, but I’ve been utterly infatuated with Sheffield since I started coming here at the age of fifteen and I’ve always wanted to live here.

I live with my best mate, who’s also the other half of S&D, which is obviously great fun. And to be fair I probably know as many people in Sheffield as I do in Wakefield because we were always considered a Sheffield band as much as we were a Wakefield band.

As you know; Sheffield is an absolutely wonderful city and I’m really enjoying my time here so far.

@TNBIndieArcade on Twitter

TNB Indie Arcade on Facebook

TNB Indie Arcade

TNB Indie Arcade

Found: Sheffield’s lost Britpop album

Download Speedy’s debut for free later this month

In 2008 I posted about Speedy, one of Sheffield’s forgotten bands. You may know them from their 1996 single Boy Wonder. It wasn’t a big hit but it did appear on a Shine compilation album at the tail end of the series:

Speedy – formerly Blammo! – released a few singles but they were dumped by their label before their debut album News from Nowhere saw the light of day.

The Speedy long-player has presumably been sat in a record company vault somewhere – until now. On 15 December when you’ll be able to download a copy of this lost album for free.

Nick from the Britpop Revival blog is full of praise for the album:

Oh boy. It is that good. I listened to the whole thing with a huge smile on my face. And then I played it again, and then again…It feels unjust that a band can take the time to craft such a fine slice of pop music and then not even get to release it.

It sounds good doesn’t it? And it seems Speedy are happy about it going out in this way, with former singer Philip Watson is appearing on Nick’s blog’s radio show in January talk more about the band and their great lost debut album.

Britpop Revival: a Speedy recovery

A guide to Sheffield Music City

Sheffield Publicity Department’s 16-stop photo tour

The Sheffield Publicity Department has already produced loads of good stuff, including their viewpoint guides and a tree rubbing kit. I finally got hold of a copy of their newest publication this week: a musical photo tour of the city.

Sheffield Music City was published in collaboration with Sensoria for this year’s festival. It’s a beautifully-produced guide to notable locations from Sheffield’s rich pop music heritage. Inside you’ll find photos of the defining landmarks and accompanying notes that tell the stories behind the locations – both fact and folklore.

I won’t spoil it for you, but as well as the household names, you’ll also find some of our less well-known music exports, all of which have been influential in their own genre and helped put Sheffield on the map.

You can pick up a copy Sheffield Music City for £5 from Rare’n’Racy and the Site Gallery.

Sheffield Music City by Sheffield Publicity Department

Sheffield Music City by Sheffield Publicity Department

In search of the Sheffield carols

A festive tradition that’s right on our doorstep

I love a local tradition, and the Sheffield carols is one of our best. It’s still going strong since it started in the late eighteenth century, when singers and musicians would gather in north west Sheffield pubs during November and December to sing Christmas carols.

The carols aren’t just the obvious ones that you hear everywhere at this time of year. Many of them mix church and secular material and are composed by local musicians, with variations of words, melody and tempo depending on which pub you are in. What’s brilliant is that some are still referred to by their local names, such as Bradfield, Stannington and Malin Bridge.

Although the basic etiquette for these ‘sings’ in pubs may seem a little daunting, tracking down when and where they are happening is easy thanks to the listings on www.localcarols.org.uk.

The first pub we tried was The Sportsman in Crosspool, on a weeknight in the run up to Christmas. Here we found the Loxley Silver North Band playing a mixture of local carols and a few of the obvious ones – someone even requested Jingle Bells.

The band sounded great, although with just a small gathering of people singing in one area of the pub, it didn’t quite feel like the full local carols experience. So it was time to try one of the village pubs further north.

The Royal Hotel in Dungworth is famous for its local carols. We headed over on boxing day and weren’t disappointed. The pub was rammed, with people gathered round an organ, singing their hearts out. This was exactly how we hoped it might be.

We were made to feel welcome, despite not really knowing the carols. We soon discover that many of the words and tunes are quite familiar. This is the end of Sweet Chiming Bells, one of the many variations of While Shepherds Watched (excuse the shaky filming on my phone):

The enthusiasm of people singing is infectious. Looking around, it seems like generations of families are in the pub, with nearly everyone drinking the tasty Bradfield Brewery beer, which is brewed just up the road.

Singing like this in a pub may seem a bit strange to some people, but when you think that this local carol, called ‘Stannington’, has been sung for hundreds of years in Sheffield public houses, it is hard not to be drawn in:

In fact, spending time with people who are part of a tradition like this is quite special. It’s heartwarming to be part of something that has been taking place for so long but hasn’t really changed.

I bought a Loxley selection songbook from The Sportsman (just £1) and now I know that many of the carols are quite easy to pick up, I would feel much more confident about joining in. What’s more, it seems silly not to make more of such a cherished tradition that takes place right on our doorstep, so I’ll definitely be back next year.

There’s more about the history of carols in this BBC documentary by Howard Goodall. The Blue Ball pub in Worrall is featured from 52 minutes, 18 seconds:

Iconic music locations in Sheffield

Rock Atlas

Rock Atlas

The Pack Horse pub and King Mojo club feature in new book

Sheffield is a world-famous music city, but where are the iconic music locations?

A new book called Rock Atlas features the stories behind 650 music locations. The publisher has let us post two of the Sheffield locations on here.

Arctic Monkeys’ champagne chart rundown at The Pack Horse

The Pack Horse pub in High Green is where the Arctic Monkeys, and as many of their fans who could squeeze in with them, first heard the news they had made their chart debut at No.1.

On a Sunday in October 2005, requesting the landlord to switch on the chart rundown on the pub radio, the band settled down to toast their success at whichever point I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor entered the Top 40.

The noisy gathering were not disappointed. As Monkey Alex Turner recalled when talking to Mojo magazine, “I think the Sugababes had a big tune out the same week and we just thought, “There’s no way this is gonna happen. It’s great if we even got Top 10.” And then they played the Sugababes tune at No.2 and everyone cheered. People were jumping on pool tables, and it were all champagne and nonsense.”

Soul and Hendrix at Stringfellow’s Mojo

Soul music’s Sixties popularity coincided with the opening of a new club catering for the very American style of music in a quiet road north of the city centre.

The Mojo club (or King Mojo) was situated in a Victorian bow-window-fronted house run by local youngster Peter Stringfellow, who later became the internationally famous celebrity night-club owner. Stringfellow and his two brothers would advertise a records-only night once a week and hype up the playlist in the local paper.

When hosting live acts, the place boasted Edwin Starr’s first UK appearance and attracted the cream of US soul and R&B to this innovative new venture, which made its debut in 1964. Soon attracting a dedicated and enthusiastic mod clientele, the Mojo hosted The Who, The Kinks and The Small Faces at the out-of-town address in Pitsmoor Road.

Much like Liverpool’s Casbah Club, this residential road venue was decorated inside with pop art wall murals and posters, and when the psychedelic era arrived Stringfellow switched the musical emphasis, renaming the place The Beautiful King Mojo.

Shortly after booking Jimi Hendrix, who was the subject of a botched drugs raid by the local constabulary, the club closed in February 1967 when some neighbours campaigned against the noise and nuisance caused by a hugely exciting venture in a rather inappropriate suburban location.

What I liked about Tramlines 2011

Some of my festival highlights

So it is all over for another year. In terms of numbers, Tramlines is now around the size of Glastonbury, attracting an estimated 150,000 people over the weekend. The crowds were treated to the usual mix of musical genres, with most tastes catered for in some shape or form. I’ve picked out a few aspects of the festival that I really liked this year…

Friday night

Kill your darlings Kid acne exhibition

Kill your darlings Kid acne exhibition

It was an inspired idea to schedule the free launch of Kid acne’s new exhibition on the Friday night of Tramlines. If you don’t think you know who Kid acne is then you will have certainly seen his work around town. The launch was the perfect warm up to the festival, with live music, drinks, a look round his exhibition and loads of familiar Sheffield faces. Then there was plenty of time after to go and see more music, including Heaven 17’s homecoming performance in Barkers pool.

The Folk forest

The Folk forest in Endcliffe park

The Folk forest in Endcliffe park

A haven away from the city centre and well worth a visit even if you weren’t a folk fan. What’s not to like about lying back under the trees with the sun shining, listening to live music while enjoying a local beer? The heaving centre of town over Tramlines weekend isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and the enchanting Folk forest in Endcliffe park did a good job of widening the appeal of the festival to an older – and younger – audience.

The Busker bus

The busker bus

The busker bus

A handy way to get around and also a venue in itself. Watching someone perform against the backdrop of a vibrant Sheffield through the window was a brilliant combination. Half the fun was just turning up and seeing who hopped on to perform: it could have been anything from big local names to great new music or even an X Factor boy band fresh from the main stage.

More people and more venues

This year there were even more venues involved across a wider area of the city, including some of the more suburban pubs and cafes. And seeking sanctuary in the cathedral for some lovely acoustic music was a magical experience (plus having a drink in the pews was also quite good fun). More venues over a wider area meant more people, although this didn’t stop Tramlines still being a good place to bump into random friends.

Great weather

The sun over West one

The sun over West one

There’s no denying that a weekend of sunshine makes all the difference and this year the weather was possibly the best yet. After a very light shower on the Friday night, the sun shone on both the main days which would have no doubt encouraged even more people out.

The Tramlines brand

This year the visual identity of Tramlines was given an overhaul and it was a big improvement. Sheffield agency Peter and Paul designed a new font specifically for the festival, which was used on all the promotional material and also picked up by other outlets. The poster campaign featuring familiar and unfamiliar Sheffield faces shot by photographer Sean Bloodworth also looked great around town. It all made for quite a distinctive campaign that communicated one of the main selling points of Tramlines; that it was free for everyone.

A boost for the city centre

A busy Soyo

A busy Soyo

The experience of a trip to Sheffield city centre is a bit patchy to say the least. Many of the shop units stand empty due to the recession or in anticipation of Sevenstone construction starting, which has left it all a bit in limbo. Tramlines resulted in the streets being packed with people and local businesses doing well out of what would otherwise have been a quiet summer weekend. Anecdotal evidence suggests that trade was busy – there were reports of one bar running out or beer and another making more over Tramlines weekend than they make in a month.

Good beer

With an official festival brew in the shape of Tramlines ale, other local breweries like Thornbridge taking part and many of Sheffield’s real ale pubs on the circuit, there was no reason not to steer clear of the keg lager, even in the main stage areas.

Same again next year?

Overall it seems like Tramlines 2011 was another success. Some people were wary of the impact of a big sponsor coming on board, although this didn’t seem to make a discernible negative difference. Others are still expecting to see a lot more bigger names playing, even though this would be hard to manage at a ticketless, free festival.

For me Tramlines isn’t just about seeing big bands, or even being regimental about the music you do try and see. The friends I know who enjoyed it the most are the ones who got out and about and threw themselves into what and wherever their weekend took them, whether it was a rammed and sweaty pub or the tranquility of the Folk forest.

How do you think it compared to previous years? And what would you suggest for 2012 – is there anything they should keep, ditch or should be doing?

The Radical departures What I learned from Tramlines 2011 blog post is a good read and has some useful tips for if and when the festival returns in 2012.

The main stage on Devonshire green

The main stage on Devonshire green

Sheffield buses sound like the KLF

Listen to the proof here

I’ve been travelling on First south Yorkshire buses for years, and over this period I’ve kept hearing an electronic noise from the driver’s cockpit that reminded me of something.

A few weeks ago I realised that these bleeps were just like noises on the KLF’s 3am Eternal, a number one hit from 1991. I mentioned this on Twitter, but was aware that I needed to record and prove this similarity. So with some time off work and a double-bus trip to Meadowhall planned for today, I bought my day bus pass and set about obtaining the evidence.

If you’re wondering whether this means I was sad enough to be spending most of the day sat in the pensioners’ seat behind the driver recording whole bus journeys on my smart phone, then yes, that’s pretty much what happened.

The difficulty was knowing what triggered the noise as it seemed to bleep at random. Was it something to do with the doors, the hydraulic suspension or even the ticket machine? Best to stay on the safe side and record the whole journey.

Luckily, on the leg from Meadowhall to town I managed to get a half-decent recording. Before you listen to it, here is a reminder of the intro to 3am Eternal by the KLF:


Here is my recording live from a Sheffield bus earlier today. I think we were in Wincobank:


And here is the mashup:


This kind of stuff is what time off work is for, right?

Anyway, next time you’re on the bus and hear the bleeps, close your eyes and think back to those acid house days of twenty years ago. Or alternatively, when you next hear the KLF, allow yourself to be transported on a journey through Sheffield on a First south Yorkshire bus.

Vex at Portland works


Vex: live electronics, acoustic ensembles, audio visual screenings and performance art at Portland works

Live electronics, music, screenings and performance art

There was a big boost last month for the campaign to save Portland works when the planning application to convert the grade II* listed building into flats was withdrawn.

People are now being invited to help purchase the building in order to bring it back into the hands of people that work there and the community.

The campaign has gained many friends along the way and as part of the efforts to raise the profile of Portland works some great events have taken place there including open days and the Steel city pulse event at the Sensoria festival (watch the drumming here).

On Saturday 11 June a new cultural night is kicking off at the Portland works. Vex promises ‘innovative live electronics, audiovisual work and performance art mixing accessible and exciting electro-acoustic music with light, film and other media.’

Vex is free and there is a cheap, licensed bar. Doors open at 7pm.

Vex Facebook event