A drizzly Sunday was not going to put an end to the party. Hair of the dog and an expanse of food outlets ensured that no one would be falling short of what was to be a phenomenal Sunday. Lightweight raincoats complimented by golden draped red fez hats resumed as the dress code for the final day, and for in particular; Camden-Town ska legends Madness.
First up we had fresh and alternative rockers, Sports Team. Watching the band humbly perform their own sound check as the Sarah McNulty stage slowly filled out created a great sense of excitement once more. Reflecting this, was the band’s eagerness to perform; with their set being extended by a further 20 minutes allowing for them to truly establish themselves on their debut on the biggest stage the park had to offer. Audiences of all ages seem to be captured within the synchronisation of bopping heads to their hits ‘M5’ and ‘Here’s The Thing’, making for a solid start to wet Sunday afternoon.
Following this, people threw themselves up and over t’hill down T’Other Stage once more, to catch recently reacquainted boy band, Scouting for Girls. With the audience piling out all the way to the back bar, it was clear that this band had carried the sentimental value they held with their fans throughout their teens, and perhaps a whole new generation of flare-lit fans to be, after what was an incredible performance. Immediately getting fans tapping a foot or two was top hit ‘Heartbeat’, that felt to many felt like echoes of their adolescence bouncing around, throughout the tent. Shortly after, lead singer Roy seemed to hold a moment to himself; leaving fans eager for what was next before cleverly spinning his way down the keys into a reprise of the final chorus once more, arguably joined by nearly every single member of the audience. The short 30-minute set quickly flew by; filled with more hits ‘This Ain’t a Love Song’ and ‘Elvis Ain’t Dead’ before a final thanks from the band as they delved into #7 UK Single ‘Shes So Lovely’, with a huge roar from the crowd.
Next up it was local legends Reverend & The Makers back over at the Main Stage, who were due to play the festival for their fourth time. Managing to worm our way right down to the front, we knew we were in for a ‘proper party, and they delivered just that. After a few moments of anticipation, we were greeted by drummer Richy Westley who quickly took to the stage and got the crowd moving with a punchy drumbeat layered with short licks & intricate fills. We immediately then saw Reverend and the rest of the band take to the stage, before a clever stop into the booming bass of hit single ‘Bassline’. Now if everyone wasn’t ready to party on a Sunday before, Reverend were clearly here to make that happen. A cleverly collated and very well-rehearsed setlist ensured the perfect balance between crowd interaction and a ‘Sunday Funday’. As the sun climbed through the clouds throughout the set, we heard fantastic versions of hit songs like ‘Heavyweight Champion of the World’ and ‘He Said He Loved Me’ before the ultimate finale of ‘Silence is Talking’ that perhaps saw a couple more reprises than originally anticipated; even as fans walked away from the stage post set. Reverend & The Makers may have been dipping in and out of the scene for quite some time now, but after a couple of brand-new tracks and a highlight set of the entire weekend, it was clear this pinch of nostalgia would ensure there will always be a place for them in Sheffield’s hearts; and this was credit to the way they are able to get an entire festival bouncing.
Shortly following this, we paid a visit to the Leadmill Stage once more; where we managed to capture Nottingham’s Punk band ‘Do Nothing’. A variety of ages filled the tent where we watched lead singer Chris Bailey hold the stage like no other; performing with introspective yet relatable lyrics, carefully laced with short bursts crowd interaction. Hit single ‘LeBron James’ landed toward the back end of the set, which seemed to capture the audience entirely for perhaps not the first time of the bands set.
There was an all but too short a breather before returning to the main stage once more to catch Liverpool lads ‘The Wombats’ within this jam-packed Sunday. The lads effortlessly sauntered onto stage before quickly ripping into that iconic riff that was all but too memorable for audience members of all ages. ‘Moving to New York’ saw the fields in front of Sarah McNulty’s stage bouncing one more, and it was clear the band were not going to stop here, closely following up with ‘Techno Fan’ and ‘Lemon to a Knife Fight’. It was clear that this was all second nature to the lads, as they powered through a setlist of anthems; both old and new all whilst ensuring the Northern crowds were made known that Sunday was the day to bring the party. The Wombat’s were all but finished as the sun returned onto Hillsborough Park once more; but not before a final taste of nostalgia with arguably their biggest hit from ‘A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation’. ‘Let’s Dance to Joy Division’ ensured the band had left their mark on the stage ready for the big finale that was to follow.
A short visit to ‘The Open Arms’ to get our ABBA fix reminded us that people were here to have fun, and the festivals message on including one and all surely resonated with those who had attended the festival. After belting out a couple tracks, we quickly made our way up to The Leadmill Stage once more; this time to catch rising stars ‘Yard Act’ close down the stage. James ‘E’ Smith’s poetic influence was very apparent throughout their set, and this clearly reverberated with those within the tent. Eager to engage and interact with the crowd with a short anecdote about a certain 50 pence piece, the setlist was wall to wall packed with spoken word; carefully layered with bass driven riffs and twangy guitars.
The finale. The final band to hit the stage after what was a truly action-packed day and a largely cohesive weekend. It was Madness and it was a madness. Red and golden feather layered fez’ carried by those of all ages swarmed the Sarah McNulty stage for what was to one last dance. As the 6-piece entered the stage, Suggsy quickly nodded to the audience before sliding into his dancing shoes for ‘One Step Beyond’. They quickly saw the entirety of the crowd jumping and dancing in unison to the upbeat of the swingy guitar that drives the entirety of the song throughout. The band were sure to not waste any time as they quickly followed with his ‘Embarrassment’ and ‘The Prince’ and following this was the momentum of nostalgia for all those watching, that had carried the weekend so far. The ska band continued into the Sunday evening by dipping into their extensive discography, with a further 15 tracks from various albums, before bringing the show to a close with hits ‘Baggy Trousers’ and ‘House of Fun’ which infectious riffs ensured no one would be left dancing alone: even all the way to the back bar. A short thanks and stage exit left the audience begging for that ‘one more song’. It was clear they were not done just yet; quickly returning for an encore of ‘Madness’ and ‘Night Boat to Cairo’, ensuring that no audience member was left dissatisfied. For those who grew up listening to Madness; it was everything they had remembered and more, and for those who were experiencing the contagious dance for the first time; it was destined to be a night to remember. There was great energy and high moods in the air as people climbed their way out of Hillsborough Park for the last time. That truly was a Madness.
Written by Joe Mcrae
Photo by Carolina Furuolo