Opinion: Why I love The Leadmill

On stage at The Leadmill
On stage at The Leadmill
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It might be so old it’s the place your dad first gave your mum a quick grope. But, says Colin Drury, Sheffield’s Leadmill is a brillaint place


HOW do you pick a favourite memory from a nightclub you’ve been visiting on and off - and, these days, that’s more off than on - for some 10 years? Easy, actually.

My stand out moment from The Leadmill wasn’t seeing The Strokes or British Sea Power or even, er, The Paddingtons. It wasn’t that gleeful student evening when I realised a double could be bought for a single British pound, or the time I watched as a friend fall - slow motion, with all the grace of a disorientated gazelle - from the stage while dancing to The Libertines (less funny for him, as it turned out - he dislocated his elbow).

No, my favourite memory is more simple than those.

It was the night I saw a bloke, standing up, next to the amp, holding a pint. Fully fast asleep.

I’m not someone who’s easily impressed. Tell me you’ve run a marathon or climbed a mountain and I’m pretty nonplussed. But you have to doff your pint to a bloke who can perfect 40 winks while The Wedding Present bang about on stage in the background - without ever spilling a drop of his drink. By the time he woke up five minutes later, more people were watching him than the band.

Ah, memories. Ah, happy times. Ah, good old days. That last one was 2012, I think.

But therein, strictly speaking, should lie a problem for The Leadmill.

There’s a saying that once people start to romanticise a club, they’re already helping to bring about its end. Venues where people talk more about the past than the present don’t have much of a future.

Nightspots thrive on being relevant and fresh. No-one wants to party in the place their dad first gave their mum a quick grope.

Yet The Leadmill defies that rule.

It treads the fine line between heritage and hedonism; between clear-as-day memories of yesteryear and fuzzy memories from last night. It keeps on keeping on.

They put on gigs and comedy. They put on nights students fall in love with. They put on evenings for - you know who you are - more mature weekend clientèle.

But, whatever they do, they always do it without any attitude or hassle - which might just be the key to 34 years of success.

It’s just The Leadmill, isn’t it? It’s a Sheffield institute. Long may it live.