High Hazels - Leadmill, Sheffield
On what seemed like a gloomy night, Sheffield’s music fans descended on The Leadmill to pay tribute to yet another brilliant local band calling it a day. The room was sombre as fans discussed their upset at the announcement of High Hazels’ hiatus, however there remained plenty of anticipation in the eyes of each in the room.
Daniel Whitehouse and band, with remnants of Marr and Ashcroft, kicked off the night with melodies pleasing every ear drum. Throughout their set, the band utilised brilliant ways to transition between verse and chorus with ease. The fourth tune, Everything Will Be Destroyed, was the highlight of Daniel’s set, containing groove in the bassline which had been lacking. The perfect way to kick off the evening with hip-shakers straight out of a film soundtrack.
Drenched in reverb with chilled vibes and a brilliant vocal through, main support for the evening came from Beachcomber, sending heartache and lust ringing through The Leadmill. The third song of their set, branded as “something new” was absolutely brilliant, and if this is anything to go by Beachcomber might become one of the best bands on the Sheff circuit. The Smiths’ influence came shining through with a fantastic riff on final song I’m Alright, leaving the whole crowd suitably warmed up for the headline.
Absolutely rammed before their arrival, “oreyt folks” introduced the brilliant High Hazels with more Sheffield charm than a bottle of Hendo’s. Loneliness Inn kicked in and forced the crowd forward to the barrier, captivated by frontman James Leesley’s perfect vocal and incredible lyrics. Leesley then dropped the guitar to give us a brilliant serenade of heartbreak as the crowd screamed the words back. As tight as any band around, they continued to serve banger after banger on a silver platter, mixing delicate vocals and scintillating lead guitar lines. Next, Misbehave, the heaviest High Hazels ever go, came at the perfect time to harness the crowd’s energy. Recent single Slow Dancing was ironic as the whole crowd bopped in time and felt the lyrics of not wanting to be, then, battling the tears, Leesley gave a stunning vocal performance of The Promenade, leaving a collective lump in the throat of The Leadmill as the band left the stage.
The encore came as Leesley and guitarist: Scott Howes took the stage with a tear inducing version of Five Weirs, the band’s first b-side. Bassist Paul Musgrave and drummer Anthony Barlow then entered the frame for Sequin Eyes, before the band prepared for their last song. The final tune of the night was Hearts Are Breaking, was a fitting way to end High Hazels’ tenure as one of Yorkshire’s finest bands. The whole room were in agreement that they’d witnessed something great; it’s clear that the dismantlement of High Hazels will be particularly sore in the Sheffield music scene for some time, but the potential of up to four new music adventures surely acts as some form of relief. Although High Hazels are now gone, the scene has been left with two stunning albums which will go down as Sheffield greats. A legacy any a band would be proud of.