OPINION: The sweet sound of live music in Sheffield after 15 months of restrictions

When the Government's roadmap out of lockdown was laid out before us in February, it was the first glimpse of the way in which things might go back to something resembling normality.

By Sarah Marshall
Saturday, 29th May 2021, 4:45 am

At the top of most people’s list would have been the prospect of being reunited with loved ones, and crucially, being able to give them a hug.

Beyond that, plenty were looking forward to being able to go back to the gyms, to attend indoor exercise classes, to go out for food and drink and to be able to go away.

After months of Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns, there were plenty of things I was looking forward to doing; and near to the top of the list was being able to attend a gig again.

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Mr Ben and the Bens at the Abbeydale Picture House

I know people who go to concerts much more regularly than me, but it’s something I’ve been doing three or four times a year since I was a teenager; and have always found it to be a truly wonderful, and at times, magical experience.

And after not being able to go to a concert for 18 months, and seeing gig after gig rescheduled, it’s a part of my life that I treasure even more now.

The first concert I went to was Scotish indie band, Travis at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall when I was 11. My older sister Bethan was a fan, and thought I might enjoy going along.

I remember being excited, and not really knowing what to expect. I only knew a couple of their songs at that point, and wondered if that would hinder my ability to enjoy it.

Sarah Marshall

But they came on and I remember being mesmerised throughout, and enjoying the sense of community I felt, with everyone there to do the same thing and listen to music.

There’s been something of that first concert experience in every one I’ve had ever since, from seeing friend’s bands in pubs, to small bands play even tinier venues, to arena gigs to huge festivals such as Glastonbury, a memorable part of which was watching and singing along to Dolly Parton with 100,000 other people.

While seeing bands you love can be a spectacular experience, and I’ve got older I’ve begun relish the opportunity to see acts I don’t know, and to be introduced to them through their live music.

And so I was really looking forward to my first gig since 2019, at the Abbeydale Picture House on the first Saturday after the May restrictions.

On the bill was Mr Ben and the Bens, fronted by Lancashire-born songwriter Ben Hall, and supported by the supremely strange, but talented, all female band, Potpourri, and Crawlies, who released their debut EP via Delicious Clam’s label, who are a DIY collective based here in Sheffield

Out of those acts, I’d only listened to Mr Ben and Bens before so was looking forward to enjoying some new music.

We had to be seated, in the Picture House’s rows of green cinema seats, and sat apart from one another, but it was just wonderful.

For everyone there it was the first concert since lockdown, and it felt very joyful.

If you’re able to, go and do that activity that you love. After months at home, there’s truly nothing better.