Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Bromheads Jacket

There's a small blonde girl sitting on the dance floor of the Mean Fiddler. She's gazing upwards at the singer with rapt attention. She's not the most attractive girl in the world, but she's kind of sweet, with a look of freshly scrubbed innocence. The sort of girl you would want your own daughter to grow up to be (assuming that you had one).

You might ask why such a girl would be sitting on the floor of somewhere like the Mean Fiddler, and you would be perfectly justified in doing so. It's not normally the safest place in the world to sit, especially if you are a bit on the short side. Fortunately, though, almost everyone else is also sitting on the floor. Even more unusually, none of them are looking at the stage. They are, instead, looking at Bromheads Jacket singer Tim Hampton, who in turn is stood at the back of the tiny auditorium and playing an acoustic version of the haunting 'Rosey Lea'. Coming as it does after a sublime solo rendition of 'Poppy Bird', he's just casually - and singlehandedly - tossed off two of the best pieces of storytelling ever to come out of Sheffield.

And guess what? He doesn't care. Bromheads Jacket have steadfastly refused to play the media game. They don't say or do the things that they are supposed to. So whilst most bands are happy to have a pop at the music press, very few would dream of slagging off their support band. But today Bombay Bicycle Club take it in the shorts for overrunning (yes, I got there late and missed them anyway) and generally not being the sort of music Tim likes. Meanwhile, the audience are thanked just for showing up, newcomers are welcomed, people from Surrey get a special rendition of 'Wooley Bridge' and everyone gets invited to stick around for a drink with the band (assuming that they don't shut the bar because Bombay Bicycle Club...).

The unique thing about Bromheads, though, is that they actually seem to mean all of this. For all the 'doing it for the kids' comments of other bands, this lot really do go drinking with their fans, do seem to enjoy every minute of what they are doing and do seem that they would be mortally wounded if one person went home not having had a good time. It is as if the world suddenly turned up a version of the Housemartins, only without the politics and the strange desire to convince people to visit Hull.

To put all of this in perspective, the stage diving starts within thirty seconds of opening number 'Lesley Parlafitt' and doesn't end until the last chord of new single 'What Ifs And Maybes'. And that's just the band. In between times we get a couple of new songs, a couple of B sides and an audience sing along to 'A Trip To The Golden Arches'. In short, nothing different from most bands, except for the sense of belonging, the feeling that you being there was as important to them as it was to you. And that counts for a lot.


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