Just Mustard, Self Esteem, Inhaler, Little Man Tate and Kasabian performing at The Tramlines Festival Sheffield on Saturday 23rd July 2022.

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

It is that time of year again when the Tramlines Festival dominated Hillsborough Park in Sheffield and showcased some of the biggest talent across the UK and beyond, and this year the organisers excelled with an outstanding line-up.

Over on The Leadmill Stage mind blowing Irish visionaries, Just Mustard, took to the stage to play thirteen songs on what was at times a brooding but mostly dream like performance. Having released their second album, Heart Under in 2022, they showcased seven of the album tracks, as well as a trio from their debut album, Wednesday.

Opening with new song 23, guitarist Mete Kalyon used a violin bow on his guitar to obtain the dark turbulence that looms in the background of this song before they followed up with their latest single, I Am You.

The quintet is a stationary band and there was very little crowd interaction. Once Kalyon had put his bow down he retreated into the background to play the remainder of the set in the old fashioned way. His counterpart David Noonan was also largely stationary whilst bassist Rob Clarke never made eye contact. It was shoegazing of the best and most traditional kind.

Even vocalist Katie Bell hardly moved at all with the exception of hitting her tambourine and drummer Shane Maguire only moved because he has to. But all their engagement comes from their music.

All three singles released in 2019 were given an outing as the mournful sound of Seven engulfed the crowd and Bell’s largely sugar sweet yet ethereal vocals soared on October whilst the classic Frank sounded massive live.

There were beautiful melodies and soaring guitars on new tracks Mirrors and Early and the oldie mechanical Pigs were pure examples of why Just Mustard are a group that are immersive and deserve the audience’s full attention, which they got.

Closing their set with Still and Seed, two clear fans favourites from the new album, the set had been equal parts sweet and corrosive, their music and performance alike are a mesmerising experiences and not one to be overlooked.

The rapturous applause from the crowd was a testament to the band’s startling evolution as well as the excitement that can only come from watching a band just beginning to realise the full extent of their powers. They may not do much on stage but this unique band does it with breathtaking efficiency and volume.

Part of the Tramlines Festival ethos is to shine a light on its home town heroes and Saturday was no exception. So it was a walk to the T’Other stage to catch Self Esteem’s set who had arrived with her backing vocalists and dancers all donning matching Sheffield Wednesday foot ball kits.

With Rebecca Lucy Taylor who now prefers to be known as Self Esteem, her backing vocalists/dancers joined her on stage for opener from her second studio album, Prioritise Pleasure, her ode to liberation, I’m Fine and the crowd screamed at her to signal the arrival of Britain’s newest bona fide pop star.

Soaring harmonies accentuated her powerful voice perfectly which was in excellent form throughout but really stunned during the spirit stirring gospel of The 345 and on the chorus of break out single, I Do This all the Time.

Her momentum never waned and Taylor and her entourage never missed a beat as she treated the crowd to life affirming songs all paired with slick choreography. There were the older offerings that included Girl Crush and In Time, which were performed with such energy that they are now instantly recognised as huge pop anthems.

On this showing Self Esteem’s profile is bound to grow because she had delivered an amazing upbeat set. Whilst she and her crew are no doubt destined for Arena venues, her appearance at Tramlines allowed her to show off her astonishing vocal talents.

A trip to the Sarah McNulty Main Stage was necessary to catch the Irish band Inhaler. Front man Elijah Hewson, is the son of Paul Hewson, aka Bono of U2 fame and it is easy for critics and fellow artists to resent a band who have famous parents, near instant signing to a major label and early tours supporting the likes of Noel Gallagher, but with this band, it is very difficult to do just that.

The four piece band took to the stage to a crowd buzzing with anticipation for the band’s live performance; they opened with the title track of their number one debut album, It Won’t Always Be Like This.

Throughout their set they had showcased impressive musicianship, particularly evident in Hewson’s soaring vocals and Josh Jenkinson’s intricate guitar riffs. The band’s tight knit rhythm section anchored by Robert Keating’s driving bass lines and Ryan McMahon’s propulsive drumming, added a powerful backbone to their sound on the likes of Totally, When It Breaks and These Are The Days.

Finishing their set with My Honest Face, Inhaler had stood on their own feet. Their success will most certainly come from them being a tight band, and some great lyrics and catchy songs. They are a band to watch out for.

It was another Sheffield band to grace the Main Stage as Little Man Tate played their first Tramlines Festival. The four piece band were formed in 2005 and released two studio albums, About What You Know in 2007 and Nothing Worth Having Comes Easy in 2008. They took the decision to split in 2009 and they stayed out of the spotlight until early 2020 when they announced that they would be reforming for a show in their hometown of Sheffield after the end of the pandemic.

Such was the demand for tickets that they announced a second show and so the excitement to see this band amongst the crowd was palpable. Little Man Tate came onto the stage to rapturous applause and despite lead singer Jon Windle having laryngitis, they put on a superb set.

Opener Man I Hate Your Band was swiftly followed by European Lover, ensuring that the crowd were bouncing and nodding in unison to Windle’s delightful Sheffield dialect. Other crowd pleasers included This Must Be Love, their first single The Agent, and their second single What? What You Got.

Their latest single Boy In The Anorak was very well received, and Cheap Stolen Kisses and Sexy In Latin all signalled a sign of things to come, which is hopefully going to mean more singles and gigs on the way.

The lads well and truly finished on a high with the classic anthem, House Party At Boothy’s, which served to ensure a fantastically memorable festival appearance.

Headlining on Saturday was Leicester band, Kasabian, who were marking their first festival appearance since firing their former front man and founder member, Tom Meighan in the summer of 2020. If there was any pressure on Sergio Pizzorno who has stepped up to front the band, there was no evidence of it.

Entering the stage to a fantastic reception, 35,000 fans went wild on hearing the opening chords of mega hit, Club Foot. Having released their seventh studio album, The Alchemist’s Euphoria, the first album with Sergio as front man, it must have been very difficult to choose a set list from their extensive back catalogue. But their new songs blended effortlessly with the old classics.

New song Scriptvre mixed soft rock with mainstream pop and saw Sergio squaring up to the crowd, brimming with self belief. Anthemic tracks Ill Ray (The King), Stevie, Pinch Roller and Empire all sounded as fresh as ever, and a triumphant airing of Underdog feels more apt than ever before with its clattering opening riff.

You’re In Love With A Psycho, Chemicals and Shoot The Runner, all had the crowd singing and bouncing along, before they were treated to a three song encore of Bless This Acid House, L.S.F and the anthemic Fire which came complete with pyrotechnics a plenty and fiery effects, which was a pure spectacle and saw the crowd singing the spine chilling lyrics, the words echoing around Hillsborough. It was fitting conclusion to a sublime set.

Singing a little more nasally than his predecessor, Sergio was full of charisma. His stage presence was phenomenal, with the crowd hanging off his every word. His energy was nothing short of infectious making Kasabian an awesome live band.