Live Review: The Reytons @ Sheffield Leadmill

Sunday 6th May – Matinee Show

The concept of a matinee show for a band as rowdy as Rotherham heroes The Reytons is an odd one. Sure, the band have a particularly rabid fanbase but would descending into the Leadmill (one of Sheffield’s darkest corners) in the middle of the day with the sun shining outside adversely affect the general atmosphere? All of these questions and more swirled through my head as I adjusted to the obsidian gloom of Sheffield’s most inconic venue at 3pm on a bank holiday Sunday. Strange days indeed…

It took roughly 30 seconds for any fears I may have had around the effectiveness of a matinee rock show to be allayed as The Reytons took to the stage to a sea of flares, cheers and screams. A fight breaks out right behind us between an impossibly drunk man on crutches and some other huge dude who perhaps justifiably took exception to the fact that the first guy tried to headbutt him. A reminder that at this point it’s not even 3.30pm yet. It’s gonna be a rowdy one.

‘Red Smoke’ kicks things off and as frontman Jonny Yerrell yells the repeated refrain ‘Here we fucking go’ it is clear that the early start has done nothing to dampen their enthusiasm. It’s been a long road to success for The Reytons but as a consequence of this they have become a well oiled machine as a live act. This set is tight, insistent and euphoric in places and there is a sense of community around the band that feels rare in a music scene dominated by private school kids and pretenders.

The band’s self-released third album Ballad of a Bystander was released in January 2024 and five of the 14 tracks here are from that record, starting with ‘Adrenaline’, the screeching guitar riff of which sounds massive here, with ‘Market Street’ and the nostalgia tinged ‘2006’ also sounding great. Yerrell has always been adept at capturing the minutiae of working class life and the latter song references a number of Sheffield institutions including the Boardwalk, Little Man Tate and fittingly The Leadmill itself. The crowd love it. They also love the massive screen in the background playing clips from Only Fools and Heroes and Beverly Callard’s exercise videos. A heady mix.

‘On the Back Burner’ is one of the band’s oldest tracks and yet they show no sign of being tired of it and the astute observation that ‘Everybody round here’s got a cousin or a mate who’s best friends with Alex Turner’ is delivered with gusto. It’s a brave move to reference perhaps Sheffield’s biggest ever band in a song that admitedly sounds very similar to their early work, but The Reytons have always wisely worn their influences on their sleeves and while they share more than one strand of musical DNA with the bands that came before them, they are still defiantly their own band.

Old favourites ‘Slice of Lime’ and ‘Billy Big Bollocks’ close out the first part of the set before the only real misstep of the night. ‘Kids Off the Estate’ is The Reyton’s signature tune and the obvious choice for a set closer. It sounds suitably epic in a packed, sweaty Leadmill, so epic in fact that ‘Low Life’ and ‘Uninvited’, whilst great songs in their own right, feel a little anticlimatic as set closers. This is a minor quibble, however.

And so, we emerge blinking and bleary eyed into the South Yorkshire sunshine. Somehow, it’s only 5pm. Maybe the matinee gig is the future…