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Will Arctic Monkeys bring the Kings of Music crown back to the Steel City?

Arctic Monkeys 2018The Steel City gets overlooked as a city of importance compared to many in the UK. London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Dublin and Glasgow are celebrated more than Sheffield and it seems a bit unfair. We’ve always produced quality, our steel was the best in the world, our beer is and our music scene has had defining moments for generations.

Over the decades our musicians have impacted the sound of pop culture from Def Leppard’s stadium rock anthems in the 1970’s to the electro shift in the 80’s thanks to the Human League. Pulp’s arty take on guitar music coined a different direction for Brit Pop in the 90’s. These bands weren’t the only ones in the city, they were just the ones who broke through to the mainstream but underneath the genre leaders was a vibrant scene that made life up north not so grim.

Music scenes come-and-go. After the heady days of Brit Pop, there was a lull in guitar music as dance music and raves became the phenomena and again, Sheffield offered a helping hand with influential club nights at Gatecrasher. Whilst this was offering an outlet for many, there was a new group of boys in bands, inspired by The Strokes, The White Stripes, Kings of Leon and The Libertines.

Sheffield Steel City isn’t a pretentious city, it’s not overly cool or try hard and the bands who were bringing indie back looked more like they’d come straight from a pluming job or they were off to a football match, but they weren’t ‘lads’. A new scene was forming, The Leadmill, The Boardwalk, The Fuzz Club, The Harley, The Fez Club all played an important role in this new sound that was spearheaded by Milburn who were more influenced by Oasis than The Strokes.

Arctic Monkeys 2003After a couple of years of gigging throughout Sheffield Milburn weren’t the only one picking up guitars in Sheffield. There was 1984, The Dodgems, Little Man Tate, The Long Blondes and of course, High Green’s finest, Arctic Monkeys. This quartet, friends with Milburn nailed their sound relatively quickly. Their first gig took place at The Grapes in the Steel City in June 2003 where they covered Hotel Yorba by The White Stripes.

Over the following 18 months they built up a fan base through gigging, supporting the likes of The Ordinary Boys and Tom Vek but their fans didn’t exclusively come from the Steel City. This was a unique time in music where the internet was building music scenes on web forums. Arctic Monkeys often get labelled the first band of the internet but it was actually The Libertines who took advantage of breaking the fourth wall and using forums to interact with fans. It wasn’t just a platform to do this though, it gave likeminded people to talk to each other, make friends and share music. Arctic Monkeys gave out demos at their gigs and fans uploaded and shared these songs on forums such as the libertines.org and MySpace. It was a natural and authentic move that took the media and the band by surprise.

Arctic Monkeys debut albumAt the time the NME was the indie kid bible and they started taking notice in early 2005. The band were selling out The Boardwalk (whilst working on the bar), with a crowd singing their songs, word-for-word without any official release. By the end of the year the Arctic Monkeys had become the hottest band in the country, they had number one singles, sell out tours and so much hype that helped elevate the whole Sheffield music scene. Bands like Milburn, who had been around much longer than the Monkeys were benefitting.

Arctic Monkeys AMWhatever People Say I Am was released in January 2006 and it remains the fastest selling debut album of all time in the UK. 12 years on and the band haven’t looked back, their sound has evolved as they have grown from teenagers to global rock stars. This Friday (11th May), the band release their sixth album Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. This is the long-await follow-up to the flawless AM (released in 2013) and expectations are high. People always say that following up a successful debut is the hardest but there wasn’t any signs of that when they released Favourite Worst Nightmare.

Arctic Monkeys Tranquility Base HotelThe bands forthcoming arena tour (including 4 nights at the Sheffield Arena) sold out immediately. There’s going to be ‘pop-up shops’ this weekend across the world (including Barkers Pool in the city centre) and a petition for Alex to shave of his beard (it does look a bit daft). After 5 consistently good albums and 5 years since the highly regarded AM, is this going to be the difficult sixth album or will they put the Steel City back on the map?

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Sheffield: The Outdoor City

The Outdoor CityThe sun is out, finally! It’s felt like an eternity. We’ve battled through dark days, darker nights and snow but, fingers crossed we might be able to pack the coats, scarfs and gloves away, well, for a couple of months anyway. It’s time to grab your sunnies, shorts and enjoy Sheffield, the outdoor city.

Everything looks better in the sun, especially Sheffield, our city. It can be a bleak place in the winter. The weather is probably one of the reasons why we love beer so much. We need it to get through the cold months, then when the sun does make an appearance it becomes ‘beer garden weather’. There’s always an excuse for a pint in the outdoor city.

The city really comes to life in the summertime and it deserves to be explored. Whether you like culture or adventures, you won’t be bored in the outdoor city. The alternative guide to enjoying Sheffield in the sun.

1. Festivals

Music, food, drink, art we’ve got it all going on here. From community street parties such as Sharrow Vale Market to Sheffield Food Festival in the centre, free events that celebrate the city.

Tramlines SheffieldThen of course there’s Tramlines, the music festival, now in its 10th year, it has grown out of it’s inner-city home to Hillsborough Park headlined by Stereophonics, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Craig David’s TS5. If you don’t fancy venturing to Hillsborough there will be plenty of fringe events going on in the city centre too.

2. Parks

It’s not just Hillsborough that has a park worth a visit, we’ve got over 200 parks and public gardens, one of the main reasons Sheffield is the outdoor city. Endcliffe Park and the Botanical Gardens are a brief walk from the Ale Club whilst the Peace Gardens is a place to chill in the city centre. Graves Park offers an opportunity to see some animals or play pitch and putt. We’re the 6th greenest city in the UK! If you fancy a short road trip visit the Peak District.

3. Beer Gardens

Brothers Arms beer garden‘It’s beer garden weather’ is probably the most used phrase when we get a glimpse of sun. We’re well prepared for this with some incredible beer gardens all around from The Brothers Arms in Heeley which boasts amazing views of the city to the roof top bar at Krynkl in Kelham Island. The Lescar in Sharrow Vale is peaceful in the afternoon and The Rutland Arms in the centre is always great.

 

4. Activities

Thought skiing was only for snowing mountains? Nope. Sheffield makes use of one the many hills with its ski village. It’s safe to say that it’s had a turbulent past. It’s kind of ironic that it closed down after being destroyed by a fire, but it’s rising like a phoenix in the flames. After being shut for a few years they have finally had investment to reopen in 2019.

5. Ride

Yellow OFO bikesWe’re not only the ‘outdoor city’, we’ve become cycle city since the Ofo yellow bikes landed. Who’d have thought they would have been so successful, especially for a city with so many hills but they are taking over and cycling is the best way to explore.

Summer doesn’t last long, enjoy it with a cold pint in the outdoor city.

For more information on The Outdoor City visit their website.