Sheffield Music: Millie Manders and The Shutup rock out with their heart out
After a year and then some where many bands were not able to do the very thing they were thrived upon, live gigging, it was rather lovely to see live performances once more. I took a trip into Sheffield city centre to see London/Norwich rock band Millie Manders and The Shutup.
It’s a distinctly chilly, it’s baltic, Friday night at the o2 Academy in Sheffield, we were fortunate enough to bear witness to two rather lovely warm-up acts, the magnificently named Jora the Fortuneteller and the very intriguing Sheffield-duo Teeff. All in all a great means of creating the mood for the headliners of the evening, Millie Manders and the Shutup or MMATSU for short.
There are no false airs of pretension here, as the band makes their way onto the stage no less than 20 minutes early, greet the gathering crowd and then return bang on time. Bang being the operative word here as the lead singer (and songwriter) Millie launches straight into Right to Life acoustically backstage, a suitable introduction to her frankly brilliant vocal range, it’s an impressive start that’s for sure.
What follows is a raucous, frenetic and unerringly impressive continual jaunt across the stage as MMATSU fire through a repertoire of music which mostly comprises a series of songs from their 2020 release, Telling Truths, Breaking Ties, a heartfelt, personal album that is as much of an evocatively emotional album as it is a physically impressive rollercoaster of vocal dexterity.
Each song is a journey of internal exposition, only broken up by brief water breaks (much needed) and moments where Millie speaks with the audience about the importance of talking.
For someone so focused on acknowledging the importance of discussing mental health, she extols the brilliance of the involvement of everyone working and performing on the night. It’s a genuine sentiment and there’s plenty of those throughout the show.
Bringing an air of madness to the crippling sadness, as exhibited in the euphorically uplifting Not Okay. A suitable addendum to the seminal emo-rock classic, I’m Not Okay, by My Chemical Romance from years gone by. Not Okay reverberates around the room through the, sometimes overly muffled, bass heavy speakers in unison with Millie’s enthusiastic head banging, as the attendees whoop and clap in agreement.
Head banging the pain away is the medication at play in the room as each head begins to nod and sway.
Music can be described as a projection of oneself, in the case of Millie Manders and The Shutup it’s an exuberant demonstration, sharing and insight into her ongoing struggles with mental health. A battle she wears not only on her sleeve but continually imparts the necessity of destroying stigmas around such discussions.
Each song is interspersed with continual declarations as Millie emphasises the importance of discussing how we are feeling, how we may be coping and reaching out whatever stage we may be at in a struggle, juxtaposed against the honest insight into Millie’s own experiences showcased in their music.
The show is a treat in its own right and it’s great to see that the emotional depth of the album is receiving the recognition it deserves, and then some. Primordial Radio voted Silent Screams one of their top songs beating out numerous well-established bands and purely on lyrical and vocal content alone it shows, with a frenetic lyrical bombardment that speaks to internal conflicts, delivered with a vocal confidence that belies the faltering efforts to overcome such struggles. There are other stand out songs that deserve further listening, notably the emphatic Bitter and Broken Record.
She brings the show to a close with the wonderful, Glitter Mix, which is lovingly dedicated to her friend… it’s mention elicits a heartfelt reply from one of those in the crowd, to which Millie responds and long story short. She loved the sentiment. Millie then spends a few minutes giving a shout out to all of those involved from the band through to the tech team, and even the venue’s bar staff.
And that’s it… or so we thought, as the band finally brings things to a close with the One That Got Away. A massively energetic, endearing aural bombardment. The only downside is that more people need to listen to this band, really that’s the only negative, apart from the £6.50 pints but we can’t blame Millie Manders and The Shutup for that one.
Telling Truths, Breaking Ties is out now on all digital streaming platforms or you can buy it on Bandcamp. Millie Manders and The Shutup are currently on a national tour, you can buy tickets for their other gigs here.