By Richard Derbyshire

THIS gig marked half way in SHEAFS’ 17-date tour and who better than this band to ignite a quiet Sunday night in Southampton.

Frontman Lawrence Feenstra, guitarists Charles Mellor and Chris Goodacre, bassist Callum Wright and drummer Charlie Eastap brought a high energy, raucous set of 12 songs to Heartbreakers, their first time in the city since their debut at The Joiners in March 2017.

Then, they had just beaten hundreds of other acts to win Virgin Radio’s Fresh Fest competition and were playing the first date on their first ever tour.

Now, they were back, veterans of new music stages at some of Britain’s biggest festivals and fresh from supporting one of America’s biggest bands at venues across Europe.

Tonight’s show had new tunes too. Alongside favourite like Mind Pollution and Feed the Animal, the lively five-piece introduced more explosive songs.

One number, provisionally called Hate This Rock and Roll, but also known as song 58 in Chris and Lawrence’s bank of ideas and melodies, was in the set tonight.

Lyricist Lawrence told The Echo that it is already a favourite of everyone in the Sheffield based group.

“As soon as we heard Chris’ instrumental, we knew it was going to be something special and the words came quickly too.

“Like other bands, we constantly make sacrifices to try to get to where we want to be in the future, but we know you have to take the rough with the smooth and this tune is about that journey.”

Guitarist Chris said that some songs come together quickly, but others can burn longer flames before finding their place.

“It is a good sign if a song moves quickly from me playing it at home and sharing it with the others to then hearing it at full force on stage. Shock Machine was like that. We wrote that one in no time at all.

“On the other hand, we had the hook for another called Get Used To It for more than a year, but we couldn’t work out how to use it.

“It only came together during rehearsals for this tour and now we’re playing it in the set. We never gave up, as we always knew there was something there worth pursuing.

This summer the band made festival appearances at Truck in Oxfordshire, Y Not in Derbyshire and Tramlines in Sheffield, where they were part of a line-up put together by local venue The Leadmill and Reverend and The Makers’ Jon McClure, who is a familiar sight in the city, according to Chris.

“We bumped into Rev in a supermarket the other day. He is a pivotal figure in the Sheffield music scene and his latest gigs, including on the main stage at Tramlines, have been huge, bigger than ever.”

“He was also good enough to do a cameo appearance in our video for our single This Is Not a Protest, holding up one of the signs and getting involved. It’s great to have him around,” added Lawrence.

Their homecoming set at Tramlines drew a large crowd despite them being up against main stage stars The Sherlocks, after a late timing change meant their sets overlapped.

This year SHEAFS have also toured packed venues in northern Europe supporting Michigan rockers Greta Van Fleet, whose debut record, Anthem of the Peaceful Army, was the top selling album in America in its first week on sale last month, selling more than 80,000 copies.

After supporting them in front of 1,500 people at London’s Electric Ballroom, the lads headed to Amsterdam in their newly purchased Ford Transit to carry on the tour.

“Gigs in Europe are a different level,” said Lawrence. “It seems that it is a novelty to be English or American and be in a band, but it gave us a taste of what it’s all about over there.

“If anything, it is driving us harder to keep working and to go out there and get it.”

The Sheffield band took the decision to tour this autumn without releasing any more music.

“This year we’ve wanted to keep performing and writing new songs, but that hasn’t left much time for recording,” said Chris.

“However, we have a bank of new songs and once they have been in a studio, it will be a different ball game for some of them. They will sound huge.”

Lawrence said that while next year is currently “an open window for the band”, they plan to carry on writing, touring and aim to move up the bills at some of the festivals where they were such a revelation this year.

“No matter what happens, we are not going anywhere soon,” he added.

SHEAFS’ November tour continues: Tonight in Liverpool (Arts Club), then Leeds (Oporto) on Wednesday November 14, Glasgow (Garage Attic) on Thursday November 15, Sheffield (O2 Academy 2) on Friday November 16, Nottingham (Rock City) Saturday November 17, Birmingham (Hare and Hounds) Monday November 19, London (Boston Music Room) on November 20 and Brighton (Green Door Store) on Wednesday November 21.

SHEAFS first gig in Southampton at The Joiners was alongside Bolton band and good pals Jordan Allen, who return again on Friday November 16 to Heartbreakers with support from Hope Valley teenagers Oddity Road and Southampton’s Radio One stars Pioneers.