Balls of steel


Davey and Glenn in fine metal fettle. Photo by Alan Howard


Sunday 25 May 2008, The Boardwalk, Snig Hill, Sheffield S3 8NA


Pete Thompson is not taking prisoners tonight as he bashes out the metalwork in the closing bars of ‘Twice removed from Yesterday’. He is not happy. Standing up with arms out wide, open palms and a bewildered expression on his face, he gestures towards the remote sound desk.


Balls of steel from Sheffield. Photo by Alan Howard


The ‘Steel City’ crowd is unusually quiet. Indeed, the entire metropolis seems to be asleep. City centre stores closed their shutters earlier with hardly a soul in sight.

Where were the usual splashes of red, white and blue? Had the battalions of Laws and Blackwell opted to move, instead on Wembley, with the rest of the Yorkshire clans to witness McAllister and O’Driscoll’s men fighting to the death?

The Boardwalk is something of a ‘tardis’. Nothing special to look at from the outside but a vast cavern inside, remarkably well equipped for rock and roll damnation. It’s what they do here.


Davey. Photo by Alan Howard


The City centre streets may have cleared but the Boardwalk is heaving tonight, notably with many older couples in the crowd.

Sensing an unusual reticence on the part of the audience, Aynsley hammers into his final number ‘Balls of Steel’ like he is forging molten metal from a furnace. [Hey folks, don’t forget to check out the middle section of the recorded version of this number!]

Pete’s problem is sorted by ‘Shame the Devil’. He and Glenn really get into a groove on the outro. It’s not quite the disco funk of the recorded version yet Pete’s fills lift the counterpoint with Robin’s snatched notes. Wow!


Photo by Alan Howard


Robin’s hammer on, hammer off on the beginning to ‘For Earth Below’ is a joy to behold. How is it possible to remember every nuance? From a back catalogue of over 200 songs, all the scores still sing.

I was disappointed to have to read a load of balderdash recently about musicians reading manuscripts and sticking to the script. It’s something you’d think they’d be expected to do as part of the job?

Do you know the one about the signer and the folder? Why anyone should get criticised for this, is beyond me. In a long and distinguished career you get called on to sing ‘000s of other people’s songs. You simply can’t remember them all. Such comments are totally out of order IHMO.


Robin. Photo by Alan Howard


Davey sings ‘No Time’ with his eyes closed. Oh, yes! This ‘Passion’ killer is the tour’s unsung hero, its selection and location in the set bearing all the hallmarks of major strategy. It’s war!

The opening of ‘Bridge of Sighs’ looks like a scene from a John Carpenter movie with the band in almost complete darkness, four piercing blue lights growing in intensity and the sound of Robin’s looping tonal drama. All that’s missing is the toll of a bell, a bucket of water and the best canteen of cutlery to be found in the City of Sheffield.

Robin and his marauding army bring the battle to a successful conclusion with the forearm smash that is ‘Gonna be more suspicious’. Once more into the breach, a little ‘Madhouse’ creeps into the audience participation section of ‘Sympathy’. By now the whole of Sheffield has joined in. Sadly, I must leave the victory parade early. Back on deserted streets, I head for wheels of steel and the road that leads, next, to the English south coast.

This is Alan Howard for ‘Steve’s Place’ reporting from the Boardwalk, Sheffield, South Yorkshire. 25 May 2008.


Return to homepage for more fan photos and reviews or click below for more reviews

Brighton No Time for farewells      Exeter Totally sold      Bilston Blistering Bilston
Glasgow Dedicated to Jimmy      London Let me hear you say YEAH!      Manchester Pride comes before a fall
Sheffield Balls of steel      Southampton From Portswood to poignancy
Stratford-Upon-Avon The play’s the thing      Birkenhead Fab Four in Birkenhead
Fleetwood Fulfillingness’ Fleetwood Finale      For more reviews visit Steve Shail’s site here!


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