OFF THE SHELF: Frontman turns new page at Sheffield book festival

The launch of the 'Off the Shelf' festival at The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. From left, Stephen May, Genevieve Carver and Tom Hingley
The launch of the 'Off the Shelf' festival at The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. From left, Stephen May, Genevieve Carver and Tom Hingley

HE WAS the frontman of one of the leading alternative bands to come to fame from the north of England.

And now Tom Hingley, the former frontman of Manchester’s Inspiral Carpets in the 1980s, is to tell the real stories behind his rock-and-roll experiences in Sheffield.

The singer is a star guest at the city’s upcoming Off The Shelf literature festival, which runs from Saturdays, October 13 to November 3, in its 21st anniversary year.

From appearing on Top of the Pops to headline festival gigs, Tom is set to describe life in the charts and what happens when the hits stop,

Tom was at the festival’s launch earlier at The Crucible this week.

He played an acoustic version of single This Is How it Feels, the band’s first top 40 success, and relived tales of legendary DJ John Peel buying his parents a pint of Guinness when Carpets first played Reading Festival.

Tom said: “It’s fantastic to be in Sheffield and be asked to be a guest at this festival.

“I think Off the Shelf is great.

“It’s been running for 21 years and you only get that kind of heritage if what you are doing is really important

“It’s important it is here, because we are at a real crossroads for literature where the written word, or printed word, is being replaced with the electronic word, so we are at a very interesting juncture.”

Literature might seem an unlikely second career for a former band frontman.

But Tom - whose father Ronald was a leading Russian academic translating Chekov - is also a part-time university lecturer interested in all kinds of culture.

As a youngster he used to collect glasses at iconic club The Hacienda, but also went to Manchester originally to study literature.

He kept crowds laughing at the launch, telling them he felt like he was returning to ‘the family business and the family shop’ and writing the book had been ‘extraordinary’.

When asked if he was nervous about the switch from playing on stage to reading to an audience, Tom, who still performs, said: “I haven’t played in front of thousands of people for a while.

“I do get a little bit nervous, but I think you should be.

“When people let go of fear it’s when they start walking across the M62 to buy a packet of crisps.”
See Tom Hingley on Wednesday, October 24, at Sheffield University Students’ Union from 7.30pm. Tickets cost £9 or £7 concessions and the show includes an acoustic performance.

There are more than 200 workshops, talks, walks and performances planned to take place at more than 80 venues during Off the Shelf. Visit for full listings.