Gig Review: Johnny Lloyd
I am bundled through a small door after climbing the disabled ramp and spun back and forth, to and fro by crowds of teenagers, crowds of quiffs and crowds of eyes peering, waiting, and anxiously debating what is to come. I have entered the snake pit, the gladiator’s arena. I am hunched over the bar at the Harley with its dim lit, miasmic gutter-esque atmosphere. Yet its beauty is hidden in its charm. This beauty will only blossom when the music begins. October 6th. A Thursday. Note book crammed in to my light blue jacket, I’m wearing a hat and I’m wearing it indoors! I’m rude, obnoxious but possibly trendy; because of this I receive distasteful looks across the bar from the punters and gig goers – the kind one receives when you eat your flatmate’s food… accidentally. Vodka lemon and lime, double rum coke and lime double up to get your groove on, it’s nine thirty in the evening and a shabby-haired guitar-bolstering Johnny Lloyd struts admirably on to the stage. The stage is brightly lit, one side green the other side red, anyone under the influence is confused but fixated of this soon to be indie icon. Hustle and bustle ensue and the stalls are crammed, little ones surge to the front and the oldies (anyone considerable over 25 in the situation at hand) weave to the outer edges all in search of a good view. I ponder at the bar with my drink and barge to the centre a little far back but close enough – I can see all, which is a success for my 5ft10 timber frame.
Formally of the band Tribes, renowned for anthemic songs such as Sappho, Corner of an English Field and How the Other Half Live. Two slightly successful albums, then the break up. The Camden quartet entered unknown areas of the musical realm. Johnny Lloyd goes solo but brings Miguel Demelo, Tribes former drummer, along with him.
Silence. Coughs and splutters, the occasional drunken jeer and then lift off. First we are greeted with a song I am unfamiliar with and by the placid but happy faces of the crowd, they are too. C.Y.L.A is played. Loud, brash and uncontained it’s an opener making a real statement. No pause needed he begins to play Like I did and then to the crowds’ elation he slides in to the melodic, fuzzy and perfectly subdued Happy Humans, a song he wrote nearly over a year ago and released at the same time. This is the first song of the night that features on the EP ‘Dreamland’ which dropped on the 10th June 2016 via Extra Mile Recordings. The crowd sways and the quiffs are waving slowly and energetically in the distance, commanding a skyline of indie ruffians enjoying themselves. Boys Don’t Dance and Dead Beat crashes from the stage like the tide of a violent sea. The crowd, little or large, jackets or tight jeans are all in unison. Now at the half way point Johnny begins to play the leading song from his new EP, Hello Death. Sinister undertones ensue as he says in a salty voice: ‘Mother I’ve been as wicked as the rest’ and the guitarist to his right and bassist to his left begin an ominous hum to play their part to his pinnacle statement ‘Hello Death’. This track was produced by friend and singer songwriter Jamie T, even though I can’t quite hear the influence, it is still tremendous. The evening flutters on and next are Up on a Mountain, Traffic and You On a String before the night closes with two songs from his newly released EP Pilgrims and Dreamland and a new one Running Wild. The sweat-drenched teenage Johnny Lloyd fan club are elated, singing along to these tracks and belting out the verses – Johnny Lloyd can only possibly look back on this sold out Sheffield gig as a pleasantly thrilling success. The bar empties. I exit. Head in the clouds, hat still firmly on, I strike a cigarette and walk towards the blackness that has encapsulated the outside as for inside the colour still shines and the music still rings the spectrum of some impressive rainbow. I am pleased, agreed and proud of an artist I watched a year earlier in Leeds perform one of his first solo shows.
The next show is last on his headline tour in Newcastle then he joins the Goo Goo Dolls as support. If you have the chance, go see him! He plays the Picture House Social March 4th – I’ll be there.
Words by Will Rotherforth