The Rev christens Sheffield’s newest venue in typical fashion. Carling Academy, Sheffield (April 11)
The Rev christens Sheffield’s newest venue in typical fashion “This, ladies and gentlemen,” booms Jon McClure, pointing at his pint, “is bullshit!” The Reverend’s talking about Carling and, in keeping with his band’s acronym, he’s certainly raging against the (corporate) machine tonight. This might be the first gig at Sheffield’s brand new Academy, but The Reverend isn’t about to pander to its sponsors. No sir. His next target is the signs on the wall instructing the audience not to crowdsurf, an edict which has, surprisingly, been obeyed
up until… now, when he rips the notices down and tosses them into the throng, signalling open season.
Most of those grinning, sweating, tumbling youths won’t remember this place as it used to be: The Roxy, infamous local nightspot in the ’80s and, further back still, the Top Rank Suite, host to gigs by the likes of Bowie, The Clash and The Jam. Jarvis Cocker’s old enough to remember, though, and later he’ll get behind the decks to roll back the years at the aftershow party upstairs. Earlier in the evening, Smokers Die Younger become the first band to grace the Carling Academy’s stage. Although their shouty Pixies-meets-Pavement indie doesn’t go down too well with The Reverend’s already swelling congregation, that probably says more about your average Friday night punter than it does SDY, who, as that description suggests, are utterly ace.
Toddla T’s bass-led bravado fares little better with the masses, despite a guest appearance from UK hip-hop maestro Roots Manuva, who joins him for a rousing version of ‘Witness (1 Hope)’. No, it’s abundantly clear who the main attraction is tonight, and as McClure shadowboxes and fist-pumps his way through a triumphant hometown headline set, it’s impossible to deny that tonight he’s a frontman at the top of his rabble-rousing game, an Ian Brown for the ringtone generation backed by his trusty band of Makers, whose tight-knit backing provides the ideal platform for their charismatic leader to deliver his dogma. And whether you’re a believer or not, watching McClure effortlessly work Sheffield’s newest and biggest stage proves pretty compulsive viewing. From opener ‘Everybody Hates Ryan’ right through to ‘Open Your Window’ (particularly dubby tonight) and ‘He Said He Loved Me’ (much better in the flesh), it’s a performance that, like The Rev’s earlier call to crowdsurf, you really can’t argue with.