REVIEW: Astrels @ Church – Temple of Fun

Astrels are my new favourite Sheffield band. OK, I may have said that a few times before, but it’s a reflection of the high quality of music that we produce around here.

Tonight, in Church – Temple of Fun, Astrels are playing only the second gig I’ve seen them perform, to launch their debut album, The Velvet Sea & The Afterglow. Opening up the party was a DJ set from Steve Singleton, about whom anyone with a long enough memory will immediately say, “Wasn’t he in ABC?” He certainly was, and how better to open a night celebrating Sheffield’s newest synth-heavy live sensation?

After an impressive short opening set by local artist Aziza Jaye, and some excellent mixes from DJ Myna, Astrels took to the stage with the explosive ‘Hallelujah Day’, and we were off on a cosmic journey: visuals and electronics, drums, vocals and guitar all came together to take us into their retro-tinged, sci-fi world.

“We were off on a cosmic journey…” Photo: Jacob Flannery

As mentioned, there are a fair amount of synth-led songs in their set (well, we are in Sheffield), provided by keyboard player Joe Newman, from Reverend and the Makers. Every song has its own distinctive hook and individual sound making for a varied, highly entertaining set. Vocalist Steve Edwards may need little introduction to Sheffield giggoers, as he has been performing and recording here for quite some time, but this band really seems to be his best incarnation yet. Needless to say, his powerful, soulful voice was perfectly suited to a venue called Church. Intergalactic earworm ‘Starship Motherchild’ was an early highlight for me, with its synthesiser bass line driving it along nicely. It was an exciting sci-fi groove, as they invited us all to come aboard the mothership – and even Dr Doom got a namecheck!

“An exciting sci-fi groove, as they invited us all to come aboard the mothership…” Photo: Jacob Flannery

Towards the end of the set, they played my favourite two tracks from the new album. The first was the epic ‘Afterglow’, which they then followed up with ‘We Are Aliens’. Swirling synthesisers and images projected behind and across the band made for a perfect ending to a night of intriguing Sheffield music, from one of our best homegrown live bands in years. See them, listen to the album (available to stream now), then see them again!

Astrels’ debut album is available on all streaming platforms now. Photo: Jacob Flannery

Read our recent interview with the Astrels frontman Steve Edwards here  

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