Live Review: Joe Carnall Jnr @ Sheffield Academy

Well, well, well, look just what the cat dragged in…

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Steel. Henderson’s Relish. Derek Dooley. Tony Currie. Jarvis Cocker. Leadmill. Hills. Joe Carnall Jnr. These things are Sheffield. And there is nothing more Sheffield than Joe Carnall’s annual Christmas show. Let us begin…

I should caveat this review first of all with the information that I had had four pints of continental ale before even stepping foot in the Sheffield Academy, so my memory is a little hazy but like the hard hitting gonzo journalist that I am, I will try my best to remember what was going off.

Joe Carnall’s Christmas show is now entering its ninth year and while the surprise guests are always welcome, there is also some comfort in the familiarity of routine. So, of course, we have Rebecca Taylor (formerly of Sheffield heroes Slow Club and currently releasing music under the SELF ESTEEM moniker), we have the Reverend himself – Jon McClure – and the rest of his band, we have Charlotte Cooper from the Subways and we have beaming smiles from all of them throughout the set. McClure provides a rendition of the Revs banger Bandits, but of the usual guests it is Taylor and Carnall’s duet of Shallow from A Star is Born that really brings the house down. Joe Carnall is a great singer but when Rebecca Taylor belts out the chorus here it is a genuinely goosebump inspiring moment. An astonishing talent (my wife will be rolling her eyes reading this but she’ll just have to indulge me, it’s bloody Christmas after all).

The surprise guest this time is another Yorkshire icon in the shape of Matt Bowman of the Pigeon Detectives. A raucous cover of I Found Out sees the roof come off Sheff Academy and a run through of Disco 2000 eviscerates whatever was still left standing, but if I’m honest, I’m here for the Carnall originals. And he doesn’t disappoint on that front. A career spanning set that sees all three Milburn albums represented – a spirited What Will You Do (When The Money Goes) sitting nicely alongside Midnight Control and a rare outing for Last Bus – Good Cop Bad Cop are also present and correct with Sharp Shooter and a beautiful rendition of Silk & Leather flying the flag for Carnall’s most recent project. Sheffield is even treated to Three Things – one of a number of solo tracks that are yet to make it into the studio but which has become a live favourite over the years. I didn’t hear anything by The Book Club (yet another Carnall Jnr project) but, again, the continental lager ensures that nobody can ever be too sure about anything.

One thing I can be sure of is that the crowd go apeshit for an acoustic run through of 17, a loving cover of Human League’s Love Action also goes down a storm and even an unlikely version of 2 Become 1 by the Spice Girls hits the spot. It’s that kind of night. Dreamy, hazy and wrapped in tinsel.

Everyone returns to the stage for Joe to lead the crowd in a singalong of the greatest Christmas song ever, A Fairytale of New York, and while it breaks my heart that I didn’t get to belt out What You Could’ve Won (easily in my top ten favourite songs of all time), I can’t begrudge Joe Carnall and Sheffield this moment. For as I said at the start of this review, these Christmas shows are written into the very fabric of what makes Sheffield so special, and with the tenth Christmas show looming large, there is no doubting that Joe Carnall Jnr is one of Sheffield’s favourite sons. It’s nice to have him home.

Merry Christmas all!


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