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FESTIVAL PREVIEW – TRAMLINES, 2022.

When my eldest daughter recently got her first proper job and uprooted herself to Sheffield, on t’other side of the Pennines, my initial sadness was quickly tempered by the thought that, ‘At least I’ll have somewhere to stay for Tramlines!’.

Some of you will already be planning your weekend, dusting off your Fez or pith helmet for Madness, or planning your route to get on stage with James when invited to do so by Tim Booth (put that phone away). However, some of you may posses a more laissez faire attitude towards your festival going experience, or perhaps you’re looking for a helping, shepherding hand. If the latter is the case, then here’s a little guide to some ‘gonna be highlights’ of Tramlines ’22.

The Lottery Winners (Sarah Nulty’s Main Stage, Saturday).

Rob, Thom and Katie from The Lottery Winners at LEAF

Guaranteed to bring the party to Hillsborough Park are Leigh’s finest –The Lottery Winners. Their latest, fantastic album Something to Leave the House For is choc full of sing-a-long anthems like 21 and The Meaning of Life, and their Frank Turner collaboration – Start Again – is surely one of the most uplifting, resonant tunes to come out of the recent pandemic. Bassist Katie Lloyd has taken over lead vocals on a few songs on the new album, so may figure more prominently, and frontperson Thom Rylance is a natural entertainer who as well as having a serious singing voice, has an amusing cache of in-between song banter.

Working Men’s Club (Lead Mill Stage, Friday).

I first saw Working Men’s Club in a corrugated metal shed on a light industrial estate next to a Birkenhead shipyard. It was a hot August day and a bare chested Sydney Minskey-Sargeant stalked predatorially through the crowd searching for signs of weakness. Quite the introduction. Songs like Suburban Heights and Bad Blood had a ‘post-punk X early indie guitar’ feel to them, but it was the abrasive, pulsating Teeth that seemed to signpost the direction Minskey-Sargeant wanted to travel. New material Circumference and Widow have a stark industrial sound reminiscent of the early pioneers of electronic dance music – DAF, and Cabaret Voltaire. I can’t think of a better place for Working Men’s Club to showcase their talents than Sheffield, the spiritual home of British electronica.

Brooke Combe (The Lead Mill Stage, Friday).

Brooke Combe at EBGBS

Edinburgh singer-songwriter Brooke Combe was catapulted into our consciousness with her social media performance of Baccara’s classic Yes Sir, I Can Boogie. Since then she has signed a record deal with Island, recorded at Parr Street Studios with Wirral’s answer to Phil Spector – James Skelly, and with Charlie Salt from Blossoms. She has also bagged prestigious support slots with Courteeners and The Snuts. Combe has a beautiful soulful voice, writes catchy sing-along tunes, with hooky basslines – evidenced in her latest single, Miss Me Now, and her cover of the Arctic Monkeys track Why’d You Only Call Me When Your High is a joy to behold.

Self Esteem (T’Other Stage, Saturday).

Singer/songwriter/performer Rebecca Lucy Taylor is definitely one-to-watch. When she headlined Sound City 2022 in Liverpool a few weeks ago, queues snaked around the block hoping to get in. A great many were disappointed that they didn’t manage to see the show. And it was a spectacular show. Her shining 2021 album – Prioritise Pleasure – was one on the most eagerly anticipated releases of the year. It quite rightly garnered a plethora of accolades – Sunday Times and The Guardian ‘Album of the Year’ and BBC Music Introducing Artist of the Year‘. One not to be missed!

Reverend & The Makers (Sarah Nulty’s Main Stage, Sunday).

Reverend & The Makers, Leeds Academy.

This one feels like stating the obvious – Reverend & The Makers at any festival are a must-see. In hometown Sheffield it is a no-brainer. Their hybrid mix of indie-guitar, Madchester, funk, and electronica is irresistible. They are another band that always brings the party with songs like Shine a Light and Bassline. I guarantee that when Reverend Jon asks of you to bounce – just as the beat drops in Silence is Talking – you will dutifully obey (and like a brass playing Pavlov dog, you’ll involuntarily make the trumpet noises too!).

From a personal point of view I’ll be hoping for big performances from my big-hitting neighbours The Wombats and The Coral, but I’ll also be rooting for some newer Merseyside talent.

Crawlers.

Crawlers Holly Minto at EBGBS

Coming off the back of supporting My Chemical Romance, and touring North America (including a sold out show at New York’s Mercury Lounge) I fully expect Crawlers to be on top form. Along with bands like Gen and The Degenerates, Crawlers are at the forefront of Liverpool’s Alt Rock scene. Lead singer Holly Minto is a live-wire frontperson and the band have a hatful of killer tunes like the grunge-tinged epic Statues, the autobiographical I Can’t Drive and new single Fuck Me (I Didn’t Know How To Say). I recently saw Crawlers electric headline set at the dungeon like EBGBS in Liverpool. At one point my neighbour turned to me and said, ‘Enjoy this. This is the last time you’ll see these in a venue this small ever again’. He’s right. And I did enjoy it. And I’m sure you will too.

Pixey.

Another one to get you moving. Mix together dancey melodies, big break-beats, a few trip-hop samples, jangly guitars and euphoric vocals and you have Liverpool singer-songwriters Pixey‘s infectious brand of pop.

Have a good time, take care of one-another, and see you in the park.

Ian Dunphy.

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