Exposed photoblogger Ellie Grace takes us ‘Through The Lens’ into the world of the legendary Leadmill.
The Leadmill has been one of Sheffield’s biggest and most iconic music venues for 35 years this year. They advertise themselves as a live music venue and night club, but really they are so much more. I decided to take a trip down one afternoon to have a nosey around and get to know the venue a little bit more. Conveniently it was on the day that Slaves were playing so it was a perfect opportunity to see how The Leadmill prepares and hosts a gig…
We started off with a little tour of the main section of the venue and then went onto the studios and rooms hidden away upstairs. Later on I saw The Leadmill jump into action as The Slaves teared up the famous stage.
So after being around for 35 years, it goes without saying that The Leamill has hosted a huge variety of gigs of all shapes and sizes. The most recent and largest one was their birthday party which saw the likes of Pulp, Slow Club and Mystery Jets play, with BBC6 Music hosting and recording a few shows from the venue itself. Their first iconic gig was from bands such as Culture Club, Pulp, Simply Red and The Pogues, to name a few! Prince Charles even popped in in 1988… And the big names aren’t going to stop anytime soon with upcoming gigs from Dandy Warholes, Mark Lanegan and Mr Scruff. That’s not forgetting all the tricks they have up their sleeve for Tramlines – the likes of We Are The Ocean, Fat White Family and Billy Bragg will play amongst many others throughout the weekend. And to top it all off this year The Leadmill were rewarded with a music heritage award by the PRS (Performing Rights Society).
As well as hosting all of these incredible gigs they host a large variety of other events including a monthly comedy night, films nights with classic screenings such as The Goonies and The Full Monty. They’re even hosting a huge darts event on 5th September. And I have been assured that there’s much more where that came from… It’s topsecret though, so even I didn’t get to find out! But it doesn’t stop there. Did you know that The Leadmill has a selection of studios above their offices that are home to various cultural industries? Up here you will find a selection of independent artists buried away in the depths of The Leadmill building, as well as some famous Sheffield names you might have heard of. Like The Creepstore, Skull and Bones Boys Club, Eye of the Storm and a new studio being occupied by tattooist Joe Frost. But there’s also a hidden gem amongst all these studios. Previously this space was occupied by Martin Bedford who took on the role of ‘house’ artist for The Leadmill. When he moved out the space was used by Leadmill for storage with boxes of bookkeepings going back 20 years almost… Now it is cleared out and ready for refurbishment, I can tell you now that once it has been refurbed it is going to be one hell of a space! Which brings me to my final chapter of my day at the Leadmill. I was lucky enough to get a press pass to see Slaves, so I was right at the front to get some snaps. In the run up to a band being on stage there are certain members of The Leadmill who will work all day to make sure that everything runs smoothly and that the band are happy. The atmosphere at this particular gig was absolutely phenomenal. One thing that really stood out for me at the gig were the security guards, who stood patiently at the front, picking people up who threw themselves crowd surfing, keeping an eye on the safety of the crowd during energetic songs and most importantly hydrating people by pouring water into their mouths. Maybe my age is showing now but to me, that is some excellent customer service. It does seem that all employees have one ultimate goal in mind, and that is their customers. If we’re happy, they’re happy. If they put on good gigs, we go to those gigs and have a cracking time, which means they have a cracking time. The Leadmill is not just a venue, but an iconic part of Sheffield bringing people together for the love of music, events and general festivities.