Tramlines 2018 review

Dan Lovatt made the trip to Sheffield to celebrate 10 years of Tramlines Festival.

Skiddle Staff

Date published: 24th Jul 2018

Image: Tramlines Festival (source)

Sheffield’s beloved Tramlines Festival returned for its ten-year anniversary this weekend, with a healthy amount of pressure on it to commemorate its decade long run with pizzazz. This year’s instalment caused a few pre-match jitters with festival goers and organisers as all acts were hosted at Hillsborough Park, a makeshift location and a new horizon following on from the previous years’, where sets were divided between music venues and bars across the city. But for all cynics who feared that heavy showers or loss of identity would rain over its parade, they were immediately pacified by a stunning blue sky, idyllic rural surroundings and one almighty tribute to former director, Sarah Nulty, who tragically passed away earlier this year in the form of  loving shout outs and bold t-shirts. 

It doesn’t exactly coincide with logic to think that for the humble price of £50, you could attend an internationally recognised festival with an absolute wealth of industry superstars alongside the promising prospects of both Sheffield’s and the UK’s musical produce, but as fans flocked, jeered and ignited blue flares,  it was evident that tramlines wanted nothing more than to wrap us in candy floss and spoil us rotten. Spoiled us so much in fact, that Sheffield’s mayor Magid Magid was snapped with a gleaming smile and a glitter beard.

Friday kicked off with a bang, and the Leadmill stage assumed the responsibilities of displaying the emerging talent. Sheffield’s own sons High Hazels delivered yet another consistent performance to a packed 4:30pm crowd and had an aura of the Arctic Monkeys about them, and that wasn’t just the accents. They were aptly followed by neighbours The Orielles, the Halifax outfit that still were appraised by locals with their Indie-pop DIY infusion that is gradually becoming a familiar sound, and sent the crowd into pandemonium with ‘Let your Dogtooth Grow.’

Slipping away from the stages, a pop-up bunker on top of a Magners stand was the rickety set up for the Mystery Jets DJ set: they spun indie fan favourites from Blur to The Cribs and were blessed enough to save their own anthems until their evening set. Milburn announced that their Tramlines performance would be their last for the foreseeable and ensured that their laddish boisterousness was engrained in our minds until their return, with renditions from their latest album Time providing the most riled performance of the day. A brilliant cocktail topped off with a splash of Stereophonics, who filled a two-hour set list with ease, and ‘Maybe Tomorrow’, ‘A Thousand Trees’ and of course ‘Dakota’ had everybody in raptures.

Saturday continued in a similar vein with the big hitters. Everyone’s favourite uncle Jon McClure allocated time from his hectic schedule to play a lairy set with Reverend and the Makers on the main stage, with Sheffield reinforcing that they could well be the heavyweight champions of the music world.

Every chap and their dog gathered and climbed shoulders for Lancashire’s rose Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, with the ground literally vibrating as the crowd bellowed both ‘Who Built the Moon?’ bangers and a cheeky testament to their forefathers The Beatles with ‘All You Need is Love’. Subverting from the indie backbone, the aptly named T’other stage hosted R&B rising star Mabel with her crowd bouncing tracks ‘Finders Keepers’ and ‘My Lover’. She paved the way for rapper Stefflon Don whose album Real Ting Mixtape turned a usually quiet area of land into a skanking, pumped up explosion.  This was a highlight as not only did it offer a refreshing respite from the multitude of guitar music, but the lord mayor himself could be seen in the front row dishing out the sass. 

It was a bittersweet Sunday as we clenched on to the last of the weekend and prayed Monday wouldn’t arrive.  Jon McClure was instrumental in curating the Leadmill stage,and provided one of the most memorable sets from local sensations SHEAFS, who wasted no time with becoming one with the crowd and distributing their signature ‘This is Not a Protest’ signs, real contenders for the future and one act to keep an eye peeled on.


De La Soul got the Yorkshire crowd bouncing like a 90s Long Island audience with ‘Snoopies’ and ‘Pain’ amongst a back catalogue of hip-hop swagger. The evening climaxed with a chart DJ set from Craig David TS5. The Rihanna and Justin Bieber remixes may not have prompted the older folk to get a rewind, but this was compensated for with the chants of the younger cliques. 

This weekend - the all accommodating atmosphere, the cheeky club Tropicana 80’s disco, the captivating scenery, the chips, cheese and gravy, much like Craig David, was proper Bo I tell thee! The compassionate, progressive message of Tramlines was perfectly embodied within Love Music Hate Racism, that had proudly knighted everybody with their yellow stickers and really brought the air of love to life. It was not only a pleasure to witness these acts and many more as a purely musical experience, but to witness a festival that inspired positivity and acceptance was a fitting way to cap a decade of its existence and its future dominance. Pre-sale tickets are available already and with a line-up like that, you’ll join us in singing how much we chuffin' love Yorkshire. 


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