Tramlines 2022: Sam Fender, Kasabian and Madness shine at South Yorkshire's summer party

After the record heat of South Yorkshire earlier in the week, some of the music world’s biggest bands and stars came to South Yorkshire for the hottest party in town – Tramlines 2022.

By Luc Burke-Lejeune
Sunday, 24th July 2022, 10:36 pm
Updated Sunday, 24th July 2022, 10:36 pm

And while the weather might not have been anywhere near the sizzling 40c heat of Monday and Tuesday, 40,000 music lovers descended on Sheffield’s Hillsborough Park to enjoy a superb three day line-up which included the likes of Sam Fender, Kasabian, Madness, James, The Vaccines, Declan McKenna and many, many more across a host of stages.

From humble beginnings in 2009, Tramlines has grown and grown each year, attracting an increasingly stellar line up to one of the country’s biggest urban festivals.

Here’s our look back at an incredible three days of music, fun and some weird and wonderful moments from across the weekend

Sam Fender, Kasabian and Madness topped the bill at this year's triumphant Tramlines festival in Sheffield.

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    FRIDAY

    A torrential downpour at the start of the festivities threatend to put a dampner on proceedings, but us northern folk can cope with a bit of rain, so there was no chance the party was going to be ruined.

    Kicking things off were York Britpop favourites Shed Seven who drew a decent sized crowd, despite a relatively early billing, delivering energetic versions of crowd pleasers such as Chasing Rainbows and Disco Down.

    Lead singer Rick Witter still has what it takes to have the crowd in the palm of his hand as he took Sheffield back to the 1990s with a lively set.

    The joy of Tramlines is that as well as attracting big acts from across the country is that it also likes to shine the spotlight on local upcoming musicians with Doncaster’s August Charles among them.

    The soul star, who has supported the likes of disco king Nile Rodgers and Chic charmed the T’Other Stage. Watch out for this guy. He’s going places and could well be elevated to the main stage in years to come.

    Up next on my personal odyssey was London indie guitar star Declan McKenna.

    Since his arrival with debut single Brazil in 2015, McKenna has made sure but steady progress across the festvial stages of the UK and Europe and fresh from a bloody and bruising, energetic set at Glastonbury, the 23-year-old arrived at Hillsborough full of youthful exuberance for another amazing set.

    Kicking off with Beautiful Faces, McKenna mixed tracks from his two albums - Isombard and the aforementioned Brazil receiving a raucous reaction, with flares and smoke bombs going off around the park to accompany its performances.

    Of course, it was down to British Bombs, the spiky anti-war anthem to close things down – by which time McKenna had Sheffield at his mercy as moshpits opened up before him.

    Then it was the turn of iconic 90s Britpop stars James, bigger now than back then, according to charismatic lead singer Tim Booth – and it’s easy to see why.

    Once more, it was a mix of classics and favourites from across the decades, Sit Down of course receiving the hugest cheer. Laid, Born of Frustration and Come Home were all of course there too. Booth was keen for his trademark audience walkabouts but security had other ideas, pulling him back by his ankles as he attempted to crowd surf across the heads of the adoring masses.

    Headline status was reserved for Geordie rocker Sam Fender whose star has gone stratospheric in the last year, with a string of arena dates, huge outdoor shows, and of course, a slot on Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage to his name. But this was his very first festival headline slot.

    A 15-song set began, as is Fender’s usual style, with Will We Talk? before delving into a catalogue of guitar and sax-fused singalong anthems, all served up with lyrics drawing on his Newcastle childhood and adolesence.

    Mantra and Better Of Me, both from his latest album took things down a notch after the high energy of Dead Boys but from then on, it was into arms in the air, throaty shout out territory with hits such as Spice and Howdon Aldi Death Queue. There was even space in the set for newly released song Alright, which was given a rapturous welcome on its debut.

    Of course, some of the biggest and best were saved until last for the audience, many sporting the black and white strips of Fender’s beloved Newcastle United.

    Get You Down, Spit of You, Seventeen Going Under and a triumphant Hypersonic Missiles, backed up with flame cannons and fireworks meant a delirious and slightly damp Sheffield audience headed off into the dark and drizzle armed with songs to keep them singing long into the night at the end of an energetic first day.

    SATURDAY

    The weather gods decided to be nicer on the middle day of the festival, the rain showers of Friday giving way to a largely dry, if slightly muggy and warm day.

    Opening up the main stage was Pixey, the Liverpudlian, indie guitar pop favourite littering her early set with infectious hooks and playful lyrics as she dashed through songs such as The Mersey Line and Just Move.

    No Tramlines of course would be present without Sheffield’s own Everly Pregnant Brothers, the comedy ukulele band drawing one of the biggest crowds of the day with their risque and humorous romp through a series of well-known favourites, the traditional lyrics of course being dumped in favour of course of the band’s own take on Sheffield like.

    In front of a backdrop which read “*F*** Worcestershire Sauce, F*** The Tories”, the Henderson’s Relish loving Steel City band served up Chip Pan (to the tune of Kings Of Leon’s Sex On Fire), Rovrum (Amy Winehouse’s Rehab) with its much-loved anti-Leeds refrain which saw Sheffield united in sending a mighty “f*** off” message to their West Yorkshire rivals.

    A million miles apart from the Brothers, but also putting Sheffield firmly on the map is Self Esteem the stage name of Rebecca Taylor whose experimental pop has moved to another level in recent months following her iconic Glastonbury set which saw her perform in a Madonna style bra based on Meadowhall’s famed dome.

    A huge crowd saw her deliver an emotionally charged set, backed by dancers in Sheffield Wednesday colours, with highlights including Girl Crush, I Do This All The Time and Moody.

    There was even a space on the bill for Eurovision star Sam Ryder having the time of his life after enjoying the UK’s highest finish at the annual spectacular in years, his anthemic Space Man soaring to second place, not only at this year’s final in Milan but also in the UK top 40.

    Another band whose star is very much on the up are Irish rockers Inhaler.

    Being the son of U2 frontman Bono might be a bit of a millstone round your neck, but lead singer Elijah Hewson has more than what it takes to follow in the footsteps of his famous dad.

    Fan favourites My Honest Face, When It Breaks and Who’s Your Money On brought a real spark and energy to the Sarah Nulty main stage – and once more, the front of the stage was only for the brave, as joyous moshpits once more opened up as Sheffield partied in style.

    But it’s not all just about standing around in a park watching the music unfold before you on stage.

    Sometimes you have to get up close and personal with those performing and so ahead of his set on the Leadmill Stage, I caught up with young Bedfordshire singer-songwriter Alfie Templeman no stranger to Sheffield, having played an intimate gig at the Leadmill earlier this year in support of his latest album Mellow Moon.

    Asked about his Tramlines spot and what it was like to be appearing, he said: “Pretty cool, I know this festival is meant to be a really good time, from what I've seen and heard.

    "I'm excited to get immersed in it and see the audience and have some fun.”

    Deep in festival season, the 19-year-old has thrown himself into a summer of fun and said: “You discover so many bands and artists. After we play, we try and go watch a few bands or go before as we're playing later on.

    “You normally just stumble across tents and small stages that you didn't know about before you turned up. So it's about finding that talent that's underneath the rest of the festival.

    Asked about his own personal set favourite, he replied: “To be fair, for me it's probably Wait I Lied, or a song of mine called Happiness in Liquid Form, because they both tend to get a good response.

    "People always have a good time to them, as they have a sing along and enjoy themselves.

    What song of yours do you believe best compares to the atmosphere of Tramlines and why, we asked him.

    “I think that it's either 3D Feelings or Happiness in Liquid Form, with this kind of festival because people just love a good breakdown, as people just love to dance and singalong and have fun so I reckon both of those songs have the right atmosphere for this festival and the right kind of people to make those songs really go crazy,” he added.

    Mellow Moon, his first full album, is full of catchy hooks and youthful lyrics – but what is his favourite?

    “Thats a really good and difficult question, it always changes for me.

    "I think maybe "do you feel like a shadow running through the ground" just because sometimes you can feel like a lesser version of yourself, something that is inferior to your normal self; for example when you're having a tough day and struggling to be the person that you normally are.”

    When he’s heading out on the road on his own, he admits he chooses his support acts carefully.

    “I look for something that's a little bit different, something that can switch you on and get you in the mood for the rest of the night,” he said.

    "So the right kind of energy, to get hooked on, possibly unexpected bands or acts, because I love going to gigs and finding really cool support acts.”

    And what was it like to be performing on the Leadmill stage after previously performing at the Leadmill itself?

    Said Alfie: “It's quite special knowing the history of the Leadmill and how loved it is, as it is one of the most special venues in the UK. So I'm very excited to be playing on that stage, so I'm really looking forward to it.”

    His set was launched by Candy Floss from the new album and Circles initiated yet another of those Tramlines favourites, a lively moshpit which got the tent rocking.

    The aformentioned 3D Feelings and Happiness In Liquid Form, as he’d earlier predicted, were met with the biggest responses of the afternoon, once again proving that this young teenager is steadily climbing the UK music tree to dizzier heights.

    The Vaccines, a band who should have perhaps capitalised more on the last few years with that name, were up next – and proved to be the perfect festival band.

    High-energy, guitar led anthems are a backbone of the band’s live performance and the set delivered exactly what the fans wanted, joyous, noisy singalong anthems.

    Teenage Icon, Wreckin’ Bar, Wetsuit, Post Break Up Sex, If You Wanna and All My Friends Are Falling In Love were all met with a rapturous reception, paving the way for Saturday headliners Kasabian.

    The Leicester hitmakers have had a turbulent few years after the departure of lead singer Tom Meighan in 2020 following his conviction for assaulting his ex-fiancee.

    But you wouldn’t know it, with guitarist Serge Pizzorno stepping up to take on the vocal duties.

    Kasabian do things big, so each song was laced with hooks and groves that got Hillsborough Park bouncing.

    Club Foot set the mood and from that moment on, the big songs just kept coming – Underdog, eez-eh, Shoot The Runner and Empire all dazzling in a stunning set.

    Of course, LSF and Fire made up the encore – the latter, naturally bringing out the flares and smoke bombs again to provide another anthem to reprise for fans heading along the A61 back into the city centre.

    SUNDAY

    Festival going is a pretty full on experience and by day three, energy levels might be starting to drop, with organisers often choosing a more mellow selection of acts to round things off with a slightly more chilled vibe.

    Of course, those rules don’t seem to apply at Tramlines, where a triumphant three days was rounded off with Liverpool indie rockers The Wombats and then of course, the kings of ska Madness who of course, weren’t short of a hit or two to ensure a wonderful end to three days of fantastic music and a celebratory atmosphere.

    The festival’s penultimate performance came from The Wombats who delivered an energic and upbeat set, laced with guitar hooks that once again had Hillsborough Park bouncing.

    Let’s Dance To Joy Divsion, Moving To New York and set closer Turn once again were met with cheery singalongs and rapturous applause.

    And so it was to British pop royalty Madness to bring things to a majestic close.

    The Nutty Boys have been around for a staggering forty plus years now, but still deliver a punchy set packed from start to finish with crowd pleasing hits.

    From opener One Step Beyond, it is a non-stop trawl through their pop-filled back catalogue, Embarrassment, My Girl, WIngs of A Dove, The Sun and The Rain mixing nicely with newer tracks such as Lovestruck, NW5 and Mr Apples, all of which slip effortlessly into the set and are treated liked old favourites.

    But it’s towards the end of their 90 minute set where Suggs and co really go into overdrive.

    House Of Fun, Our House, Baggy Trousers, It Must Be Love – the hits just keep coming. There’s even a brassy version of The Human League’s Don’t You Want Me, paying tribute to one of Sheffield’s best loved bands, of course.

    As the red fezzes bob about and smoke bombs go off, “I haven’t seen anything like that since Chelsea were in the old Second Divison,” remarks enigmatic frontman Suggs dryly, its down to the encore of Madness and Night Boat To Cairo to bring the curtain down on a truly triumphant Tramlines.

    After the misery of the last few years brought on by the Covid pandemic and the wholesale cancellation of such large scale events, this was the perfect tonic for Sheffield and South Yorkshire to enjoy itself again in style.

    Thank you Tramlines – it’s been a blast.

    See you again in 2023.