Review: Tramlines festival – day one

A great first day at the Tramlines Festival in Sheffield with Sam Fender headlining a superb set in front of a bumper crowd.

Sam Fender at Tramlines festival. Sheffield. Picture: Scott Antcliffe
Sam Fender at Tramlines festival. Sheffield. Picture: Scott Antcliffe

Despite less than favourable weather conditions, the crowds flocked to Hillsborough Park once again for the opening day of the 2022 Tramlines Festival. With bucket hats and ponchos aplenty, the eager crowd arrived early to see the evergreen Shed Seven, who even after 32 years of playing live shows, still perform with energy and great gusto.

Headlining his first festival, Sam Fender delivered a superb 16-song set with stunning aesthetics – fireworks, flamethrowers, confetti guns and C02 gas – adding a nice touch to a flawlessly, polished act.

More subdued hits Mantra and Better of Me got an airing before Fender turned the intensity up a notch with Borders, Spice and Howdon- the latter a trivial song about shopping in Aldi. Fender had to abruptly halt Borders midway through the song due to fans in the mosh pit being a little over-zealous. An appreciative Fender took a moment to give a shout-out to the medical team and security staff and asked the crowd to, ‘Give it up for them’ – they followed suit with a genuine, heartfelt applause.

Tim Booth of James at Tramlines festival. Sheffield. Picture: Scott Antcliffe

The Brit-Award winner shared a story about when he last played in Sheffield a few years ago and lead guitarist Dean Thompson broke his leg at a trampoline park. He had to think fast and drafted in Joe Atkinson who has been with the band ever since.

Fender rounded off a memorable set with Saturday, Seventeen Going Under and Hypersonic- three smash hits to end a brilliant set, sending revellers home happy and re-affirming his reputation as one of the UK’s best live artists.

Manchester-rockers James also had a standout set with enigmatic front man Tim Booth crowd surfing and climbing the barricade to serenade the fans. Classic hits Sit Down, Laid and Born of Frustration were all crowd pleasers.

Declan McKenna was a crowd favourite. It was five years today that he released his debut album – What Do You Think About the Car? Giving several tracks from it an airing to his young, quickly-growing fan base.

Declan McKenna at Tramlines festival. Sheffield. Picture: Scott Antcliffe

On the smaller Leadmill Stage, Sheffield Singer Frankie Beetlestone particularly impressed. Sober Again and Everything is Changing were warmly-received by a receptive crowd, showing their appreciation for a superb up-and-coming local band.

Scottish singer Brooke Combe also impressed with her powerful soulful vocals and personal lyrics. It’s great to see the upward trajectory of Combe, considering she started singing covers of songs in her bedroom. Thanks to the internet, she has garnered a loyal following and well-deserved plaudits and recognition.

On the T’other stage August Charles was my pick of the bunch. His incredibly powerful voice and great crowd interaction impressed. Catchy number Blessed received a warm reception. The Zambian-born singer who now lives in Leeds certainly has a promising future ahead of him, reminding me a little of Michael Kiwanuka.

On Saturday Kasabian headline the main stage. Once again there will be lots of local talent with Sheffield four-piece Little Man Tate guaranteed to put on a great show- as they always do. The Everly Pregnant Brothers will no doubt prove to be popular with their parody-filled lyrics and hilarious humour, one of their many endearing qualities.

Jade Bird at Tramlines festival. Sheffield. Picture: Scott Antcliffe
The crowd enjoying the first day of Tramlines festival, Sheffield. Picture: Scott Antcliffe