Putting Richard Hawley, John Grant and Bill Ryder-Jones on the same bill was a unique enough idea. But their night together got seriously special, as they played at three venues around Sheffield on Saturday (October 8). They each played three small clubs, dashing from venue to venue in time to play their next set. There might not have been any trapezes, but there were plenty of hair-raising moments.
The 3-Ringed Circus was the brainchild of Richard Hawley and his manager. Hawley had known John Grant since they met when they appeared on [I]Later With Jools Holland[/I] together in October 2015, while Hawley has been a fan of Ryder-Jones’ music from his previous life as the guitarist for The Coral. “I thought the three of us would be a great fit,” said Hawley.
Pictured here facing off with his keyboard player Chris Pemberton, John Grant played a six-song show at each venue. Mixing songs from each of his three most recent albums, he performed ‘Sigourney Weaver’ in tribute to the [I]Alien[/I] star before finishing with the heart-stopping ‘Glacier’ from his 2013 album ‘Pale Green Ghosts’.
John Grant headlined at Upper Chapel, a beautiful and ornate chapel in Sheffield, near the Crucible Theatre – best known as the venue where the world snooker championships are held. Grant duets with Robbie Williams on the deluxe edition of Williams’ new album ‘The Heavy Entertainment Show’, and plays another off-kilter gig when he collaborates with Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor and veteran cult singer Scritti Politti at London’s Barbican on October 22.
Bill Ryder-Jones headlined at The Drama Studios, a club usually used by drama students at Sheffield University for their productions. It’s rarely held gigs before, but proved a suitably intimate venue for the 3-Ringed Circus performances.
Richard Hawley was the homecoming king of the first 3-Ringed Circus, the only local Sheffield performer on the bill. Hawley headlined at Trafalgar Warehouse, a 700-capacity converted industrial warehouse built in the 1930s.
Richard Hawley fitted in eight songs into his 40-minute sets at the 3-Ringed Circus venues, opening with ‘As The Dawn Breaks’ from his 2009 album ‘Truelove’s Gutter’ before ending with ‘Heart Of Oak’ from his most recent album, last year’s ‘Hollow Meadows’.
Having come up with the idea for 3-Ringed Circus with his manager Graham Wrench, Richard Hawley proclaimed the event a success, as all three singers just about managed to get between Trafalgar, The Drama Club and Upper Chapel in time. “What a night!”, said Hawley afterwards, while Bill Ryder-Jones tweeted after his Upper Chapel show: “This is a bit intense. Just got Ashcrofted into a waiting car and taken to the next gig.”