LIVE REVIEW: Athlete O2 Academy Sheffield November 29 2010

First published by Sheffield’s free magazine Exposed
Photos to follow just as soon as I get them uploaded!

Athlete
O2 Academy, Sheffield
November 29th 2010
4/5
 
For unbeknown reasons, Athlete have never really hit the so-called Big Time. Even the success of 2002’s album Vehicles and Animals or hit single, Wires, in 2005, hasn’t seen them secure a coveted place in the indie hall of fame. (Although they did secure an Ivor Novello Award for Wires). Where others have soared in a giddy haze to the top, Athlete have been the steady tortoise, plodding faithfully, writing beautiful songs and producing stalwart albums.
 
Yet in the intimate venue upstairs at Sheffield’s O2 Academy, competing against the beats of Vampire Weekend downstairs, Athlete prove just why they have sustained a firm and varied fan base. Tonight they are supported by local singer songwriter Stoney and a girl called Alice Gold who looks like Joss Stone and sounds like an attitude laden PJ Harvey.
 
Athlete’s Joel Pott takes to the stage with his acoustic guitar and mix track and launches into You Got The Style. Considering the weather outside is threatening a snow blizzard, it’s the perfect ironic start – Oh it’s getting hot in here, must be something in the atmosphere – to a beautiful night.
Immediately the room is in full voice, singing along. As they abandon the setlist for a moment, the boys crank out Vehicles and Animals, swiftly followed by Westside – complete with Joel forgetting the lyrics and a brilliant little bit of heckling and banter between stage and crowd. 
 
Athlete have drawn a Sheffield crowd that spans generations and includes some fans who witnessed the band perform ten years ago supporting Mansun at the Leadmill. 
 
It’s feel good, it’s melancholic, it’s downright cheerful in places. Whatever you think of Athlete, make sure you catch them live next time they grace a Sheffield venue. Surveying the audience tonight as they dispel onto snowy Arundel Gate, every face displays a smile despite the freezing weather. You won’t be disappointed.

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