THE reopening a year ago of The Greystones was not only an occasion for celebration among Sheffield real ale enthusiasts, but also music for fans.
Those of a certain age would be able to recall when performers of the calibre of Billy Connolly, Barbara Dickson, Ralph McTell, Al Stewart and Steeleye Span would make their way up Greystones Road to appear at the Highcliffe Folk and Blues Club.
Now the back room was back in business with a new roster of musicians as the pub gained a new lease of life, thanks to a pioneering deal between Thornbridge Brewery and Enterprise Inns.
The venue was imaginatively called The Backroom and has already witnessed a number of memorable nights. Many of them have been captured by music promoter and photographer Simon Hughes, who was raised in Liverpool before coming to Sheffield 30 years ago. He spent many years as researcher and management consultant before deciding to pursue more artistic ambitions.
It’s been a fantastic first year at The Greystones, he says. “Some early gigs have already passed into local legend, including the awesome reception for the seven-piece ensemble that was Abigail Washburn, the gig where Martin Simpson was joined on stage by Richard Hawley, Jon Boden and Roy Bailey, and the night Duane Eddy’s trademark twang could be heard reverberating across the city.”
Colour and black and white photographs seek to encapsulate the atmosphere of the venue.
“One of the wonderful things about The Greystones is the opportunity to see fantastic musicians up close and personal. Many of the concert photographs you see these days are taken in huge arenas with complex lighting systems and the overall impression is of a stage-managed event and remote, untouchable performers.
“I wanted these photographs to show the artists as they really are – wonderfully talented – but also rich and intriguing personalities. If these images achieve that then I’ve succeeded.”
Simon praises Thornbridge Brewery for investing in the place, both as a community pub and a live music venue, and for promoters who have worked hard and taken risks to ensure Sheffield does not miss out to places such as Leeds and Manchester.
“It would be a real shame if the spirit and vitality of the place, and the people involved, wasn’t documented, so that’s been a driving force for me.”
Good Evening Sheffield: The Greystones Live, Photographs by Simon Hughes, £11.99, available from bookshops, Thornbridge pubs and www.boohoomusic.co.uk.