I must admit I was worried about Tramlines a little. Worried that I was, frankly, too old.

The key indicator was that I hadn’t heard of anyone on the list (apart from Selector, who are, well, from a long time ago). As for everyone else my knowledge of the bands was linked to band members I knew. Two dads from school and my boss, specifically. Which pretty much has an air of middle aged about it right there.

But I am nothing if not determined. You simply cannot have a music festival on your doorstep and not go to it. It would be like ignoring a cream cake for three days and eating celery.

So my friend and I took full advantage and set off at five on Saturday afternoon. This has a host of benefits, the best one being that we totally avoided making tea and putting the kids to bed.

We did what we normally do and wondered down division street feeling a) old and b) too sober for it all and decided, as usual, not to bother queuing for the main stage. We did buy a wristband though because we wanted to head to Plug later.

This is where our middled aged experience come into play. Vast local knowledge meant we could come back the long way round to find a cash point that had no queue and didn’t charge us £1.85 for taking out our own money. We knew what fast food to go for (Street Food Chef of course) and plonked ourselves on the peace garden grass to eat burritos, listen to reggae and read the programme. I’ve always been a planner and it’s only in later years that I realise just how much of an asset this can be (you have to love your personal quirks you know). My spontaneity left me years ago.

So we looked through the programme, reinforced the fact that we didn’t know who anyone was*, and picked some random stuff that included people we knew and a variety of venues. We are nothing if not eclectic.

We started at the Cathedral and watched Nat Johnson (lovely) drinking wine, wondering if you can have communion real ale and watching a man repeatedly touch his girlfriend’s bum. I don’t think he would have done that in any other venue – I think he liked the buzz of sin in the house of the Lord.

Briefly we stopped at the Library Theatre and this is the point where I stopped really remembering the names of bands reliably. It’s a good job this isn’t a review.

After that it was the back of Henrys to watch The Clench (fab), and then the Leadmill to wholly enjoy a band who were amazing but who cannot pronounce their own name over a microphone clearly enough for marketing purposes (the staff had no idea who they were either). Then we watched some of the Ratells who were raucous and talented, but not my cup of tea really (and someone threw a drink on my badly chosen footwear).

Finally we ended up in Plug watching Steve Papa Edwards and the Big Strong Love, who we’ve seen before (and has someone I know in the band). They were marvellous and deserved a way bigger crowd.

We even managed to bag a taxi home with no difficulty whatsoever. All in all a remarkable, if middled aged, Tramlines experience. Which got even more middled aged the next day when as a family we went to Folk Forest at Endcliffe Park. But middle age has to be seen as a positive if it means you end up listening to folk music, helping your child make a bow and arrow, watching a blacksmith, talking to talented crafty type friends and eating ice cream.

I guess the thing that makes Tramlines such a joy is that everyone has such a different experience. Mine was a middle aged one. Had it been on ten years ago it would have been, well, a slightly younger middle aged one. In years to come I might just sit in Endcliffe Park drinking cider and wondering what band I’ve never heard of the girls are watching in town.

All in all we took in bands playing indie, rock (regular and cowboy no less), folk, soul and funk. And maybe other categories if I had a clue about modern music  – I could have been enjoying grime for all I know. So next year? Why not.

*I am exaggerating for effect of course, I have also heard of (and love) the Crookes. And David Roch. Yep that’s it.


  1. We went to the jazz stage in Leopoldo Sq on Sunday. Brill and loads of folks dancing. Recommend it for next year (even the kids loved it!)


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