Sound of music takes over city

The main stage on Devonshire Green.
The main stage on Devonshire Green.

IT will be difficult to avoid live music in Sheffield this weekend.

Bands and solo performers will be heard across the city centre, in scores of pubs and clubs across Sheffield, in parks and even on a buskers’ bus as the fourth Tramlines festival is staged.

New locations are being added this year – in Tudor Square, the City Hall, at the top of Fargate and the Weston Park bandstand.

As usual city centre shoppers can broaden their musical tastes by taking a breather in Devonshire Green, where the main stage is located, Barker’s Pool and the Peace Gardens.

Organisers like to think of Tramlines as an “urban Glastonbury” – except that it is free and hopefully without the mud. (The weather is predicted to improve over the weekend).

They certainly have the support of the council, which is looking to lift spirits in these austere times.

“Tramlines embraces exactly what we are trying to do as a council,” said chief executive John Mothersole,” allowing people who know the business, in this case the music business, to do what they are good at. We provide the core funding and the road closures.

“I think it is remarkable that within four years it has become a pre-eminent festival in the country with a spirit you can’t find anywhere else.

“It’s the same spirit that Sheffield displayed during the Olympic torch relay. There is a huge community that comes out and knows how to have a good time while respecting other people.”

With experience of working in the arts in London, Mr Mothersole said Tramlines had created a reputation for being full of originality. “It will stay forever in Sheffield!”

Around 150,000 people are expected to go to at least one of 74 venues this weekend. The spin-off in terms of extra spending in the city is estimated at £2.5m.

To non-music fans, the names of many of the performers will not be known.

“People always ask why we don’t have Pulp or the Arctic Monkeys or other big Sheffield acts playing, but the bottom line is that even if money was no object, the festival couldn’t cope with a crowd at that capacity,” said festival director Sarah Nulty.

“I think this year we’ve got the best line-up we’ve ever had and most of it has been pitched just right. Credible artists and enough variety that keeps the crowd moving across the whole festival site.

“There’s no point having everyone in one place at one time. We try and create valves if you like so that if you go to one place and you can’t get in you can move on and find another great act a few doors down.

“Maintaining that flow of people is really important rather than people pitching up to one venue or stage and staying there all day.

“Variety helps people move around. It also means that people get to stumble across acts that are new to them – and that is exactly what we want. If everyone goes home seeing at least one new artist or band, then we’ve done our job.”

lTramlines preview, page 22 & 23.