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Steven James Adams / Eastern Seaboard Radio Station The Shakespeare, Sheffield
Article written by
Matt H - Oct 18, 2015
Steven James Adams
Neil McSweeney is one of those excellent local not-quite-a-secret songwriters that every town needs (Sheffield has a few). They don’t just perform but make things happen outside of the bigger circuit of touring bands (occasionally) pitching up. What specifically he’s making happen tonight is some quality bloke-with-a-guitar giggery – taking the chance to regale us between acts with one of his own excellent compositions.
Paul Littlewood is the core of Eastern Seaboard Radio Station. Shuffling across town on his own, he provides a half hour of well-crafted songsmithery. There’s quite a few around here that can turn a tune, but Littlewood is especially notable for his strikingly expansive voice (not a million miles from the host’s) and well worth the trip out for.
Steven James Adams has hopped on a train to play this one-off gig. Though, having mentioned this, he immediately gets lambasted by some who have travelled for not going to loads of other places as well. Kindly (scaredly?), he holds back from castigating them for not getting the point - thems the breaks when you have a devoted fanbase. A fanbase that clearly includes the night’s other acts. And rightly so. With years of wonderful wry, open and heartfelt songs to his name, Adams should be something of a beacon, if not in terms of commercial success.
That's a pristine From Enslavement to Obliteration t–shirt. An LP I bought when it came out and still have upstairs...
Much as we like to hark back to Broken Family Band here at Soundsxp (we once put them on at our dingy subterranean works bar) his recent records of more straightforward pop songwriting have been real touchstones for those of a similar vintage, chronicling the passage into middle-age with a bruised optimism. Despite the amiable chat with the audience , in this form - stripped back to an acoustic guitar and lacking the extra handclaps and pop stylings - there’s more bruises than optimism in the tunes. Where on record he can throw away ideas that others would build a career on, live the songs have to stand on their central strength. Which of course is more than enough - a few new songs given a tentative run-out out bode well for the run to continue. And he’s accomplished enough to make a proper show out of what seems on the face of it loosely worked through (the chat seems to help him bolster himself and structure the night rather than being really part of the show). He’s even able to spot the opportunity to hop down from the stage and finish with a couple of songs delivered unamplified, strolling through the crowd. For someone whose songs are often shot through with trepidation and regret, it’s a confident turn and one that underlines why he has those devotees.