Little Man Tate: Boardwalk, Sheffield; Friday December 22, 2006

Little Man Tate: Boardwalk, Sheffield; Friday December 22, 2006

Sheffield’s next big export are welcomed back with opened cans

It was either remarkable defeatism or cruel irony that Little Man Tate’s signature tune came to be named ‘Man I Hate Your Band’. Signed during the city’s post-Monkeys A&R scramble, it’s safe to say that if Little Man Tate were on fire, few sour-grape-gorging bands round these parts would bother to piss on them to extinguish the flames. Even mild-mannered Jarvis has said he can’t stand them.

Whatever, this hasn’t stopped them becoming the Sheffield gigerati’s second favourite band. A few months ago they sold out the city’s biggest venue, the Octagon, so tonight is something of an intimate homecoming – and all the more remarkable considering that, a year ago, lead singer Jon worked in the Boardwalk’s box office. Three Top 40 hits later and this ordinary-looking Yorkshire lad with a Jonathan Ross-style vocal affliction is morphing into an undeniable star.

Onstage, the band are met with a scene of utter pandemonium – like Spearmint Rhino with a Converse-and-polo-shirt dress code. Down the front, boozy lads lurch furiously to guitarist Maz’s guitar trills, while behind them brash lasses show their support by flashing their, er, baubles. Further back still, the people that inspired this nob-rot punk-pop – from Jon’s childhood sweetheart in ‘Sexy In Latin’ to the mythical Boothy of ‘House Party At Boothy’s’ – watch on with glee.

LMT’s trick, y’see, is to hold up a lyrical mirror to the boozy mêlée kicking off in front of them, bashing out sordid tales of bed-hopping (‘This Girl Isn’t My Girlfriend’) and cross-dressing football hoolies (‘Court Report’). ‘What? What You Got?’ and ‘Who Invented These Lists?’, meanwhile, sound not entirely unlike that other Sheffield band – if they swapped the grit for wit and the cynical sneer for nudge-nudge-wink-wink humour. “I’ve never been so bastard proud!” gushes Jon after a frenetic ‘Down On Marie’. Tonight, within these four walls at least, the feeling is mutual.

Rick Martin