Parka is a familiar name to Sheffield’s most devoted gig goers – the Chesterfield based band has played across the city on many an occasion, with a highly spirited gig at Plug being the talk of the town back in January. Their charismatic frontman Casey Lowry can be counted on to incite circle pits wherever he goes, and their feel-good indie pop melodies make for highly enjoyable listening. There’s no question about it, Lowry is a natural – with ease he explains the backstory to ‘Dentist’ – it’s about his fit dental assistant, Lisa, which all lads can apparently relate to. With lyrics like “I hate the dentist and I think it’s really shit / never wanna go again never take me again / but Lisa’s really fit”, one can’t help but think of The Streets’ ‘Fit But You Know It’.
“Entertaining” is an adjective which can always be used to describe Parka’s shows. However, Parka’s set has become somewhat predictable, with the staple ‘Thrills and Pills’ kicking off their support slot and infectiously catchy ‘Big Ego’ closing it. It’s sad to see the band part ways as they head off to university, but there’s a part of me that feels they’re capable of more. With Lowry and Thomas Barker (drums) forming a new band, along with Hannah Walker (trumpet and piano), I’m optimistic that the trio can make their mark on the music industry as Underwater Hotel Scene. They’ve worked hard and they’ve put on some cracking shows as Parka, but as I clap the band off stage I’m confident this won’t be the last time I see them on Leadmill’s main stage.
Tonight Parka is only the support act, though. The main event is The Sherlocks, a band consisting of two pairs of brothers: Kiaran and Brandon Crook and Josh and Andy Davidson. I’m thinking about Oasis whilst stood in Sheffield’s favourite music venue, as The Sherlocks take to the stage with the swagger and confidence of the young Gallagher brothers. It’s no secret that Oasis weren’t exactly masters of originality. From ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’’s opening rift being lifted from T. Rex’s ‘Get It On (Bang A Gong)’, to ‘Shakermaker’ taking its melody from a Coca Cola commercial, the band were not afraid to ‘borrow’ components from the world around them to make up their ever popular discography.
Whilst members of Oasis were forthcoming, unashamedly admitting to lifting riffs and chord sequences, the idea of “borrowing” from others has become increasingly unpopular over time. In a world where lawsuits over “musical plagiarism” seem to be happening more frequently – most recently Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams being pursued by Marvin Gaye’s family over ‘Blurred Lines’ – it’s clear that “copying” is the music industry is now generally regarded as a sign of a lack of original thought, and unlikely to invite the same success as it did for Oasis.
Nonetheless, in spite of all the naysayers – The Indiependent’s own Domenic Edwards included – the venue is humming with energy and enthusiasm for The Sherlocks. The sea of Red Stripe the audience have been drinking has fostered that boisterous, laddish atmosphere unique to gigs, complete with the chants which you’d usually hear at a Courteeners show. And, as they launch into the opener ‘You’ve Made A Mistake’, they show that they have the people behind them, exactly like Oasis did back in the ‘90s. It’s this same loyal fanbase which gave the band their chart success in October last year, with ‘Live For The Moment’ reaching number five in the Official UK iTunes Top 40 Alternative Chart.
There are distinctive parallels to Arctic Monkeys, Milburn, The Pigeon Detectives and Courteeners in certain lyric phrases, riffs and basslines, a fact which has been exploited by many Sherlock-sceptics as a sign of their irrelevance. But actually, it’s all rather cleverly executed. The Leadmill is eating out of the palm of their hands and it’s undoubtedly because of the familiarity of their tunes; the audience feels comfortable enough to sing along, throw their hands up in the air and mosh, or clap along in time to Brandon’s beats. The simplicity of the lyrics makes it very easy to get swept up in the moment, chanting back Kiaran and his merry men “you spend half your wage before you get paid” in ‘Escapade’. There’s a lull mid set as Kiaran takes up an acoustic guitar and plays a slower track, as if keen to prove he’s not a one trick pony.
When the band welcomes a special guest onto the stage, Jon McClure of Reverend & the Makers fame, there is a surge in enthusiasm across the venue as fans young and old unite to sing The Clash’s ‘I Fought The Law’. McClure is no stranger to being centre stage and his years of experience – and giant ego – means he somewhat overshadows The Sherlocks. Nonetheless, as if conscious that they’ve raised the bar by bringing McClure onstage with them, the band throw themselves into the rest of their set with fervour. Following a raucous rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ sung to Andy (bass), the succession of tracks played next includes anthem-esque ‘Heart of Gold’ and ‘Chasing Shadows’ as the set closer, which sets the Leadmill on fire.
Credit to The Sherlocks, they’ve convinced me that maybe – just maybe – this band could be as big as Oasis one day. They’ve proved once again that combining popular elements from the nation’s favourite bands is a tried and tested recipe for success, and that The Sherlocks are undoubtedly going places. I’m no Sherlock Holmes myself, but with a triumphant hometown gig such as this one, and festival sets at Reading and Leeds festival in the summer, it’s clear that this band is going to be around for a long while yet.
Words by Beth Kirkbride