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Local stars gather around Leadmill as new owners register to use the Electric Sheffield name

Other artists from the Sheffield music scene have expressed their support for local venue The Leadmill as it has emerged that the new owners have registered to use the Electric Sheffield name.

Last week, the legendary Sheffield venue and club informed music fans of the “devastating news that in a year our landlord is trying to evict us and is forcing us to close” – prompting a burst of excitement and support from the music world.

The current bosses of Sheffield’s Leadmill then responded with the owners denying their intention to close the venue. Leaders of Electric Group, the company that bought the land for the Leadmill site in March 2017, argued that they would remove current management but keep the building as a music venue after renovations.

Olivia Dean performs at The Leadmill in Sheffield. This would be the first show back at the iconic Sheffield, UK venue since the venue closed in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic (Credit Image: © Myles Wright/ZUMA Press Wire)
Olivia Dean performs at The Leadmill in Sheffield. This would be the first show back at the iconic Sheffield, UK venue since the venue closed in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic (Credit Image: © Myles Wright/ZUMA Press Wire)

Current management then hit back, arguing that they were being “eradicated by the landlord.”

“They are destroying our business by driving us out,” they said in a statement NME. “They intend to capitalize on the goodwill and reputation they have built over these 40+ years. It is a cheap, shoddy, sly and underhand way of doing business by forcing companies to stop trading.”

“Millions of pounds have been spent by The Leadmill (not the Landlord) on the substance of a once derelict building. It is the hard working, dedicated and local family of employees who have invested their blood, sweat and tears over 42 years to make it the heritage it is today. Without The Leadmill, the building we are in now would be nothing more than a run-down old grain mill.”

It has now become known that the Electric Group has registered the trademark “Electric Sheffield”. A listing on the UK Government’s Intellectual Property Office website shows that the application was submitted by the Brixton-based company on 3 February 2022 for nightclub, entertainment, live entertainment, music event hosting services; Provision of live entertainment and bar and restaurant services.

The Lead Mill
Arctic Monkeys share support from The Leadmill CREDIT: Arctic Monkeys / Instagram

This comes as more and more artists from the Sheffield music scene have expressed their support for The Leadmill. Over the weekend, Arctic Monkeys showed their support for the #WeCantLoseLeadmill campaign on Instagram after the band helped raise over £100,000 for the venue to weather the COVID lockdowns by raffling off a guitar from Alex Turner last year.

Over the weekend, Bring Me The Horizon’s Oli Sykes also shared his support on Instagram.

The frontman told followers how he’d seen cult Brit rockers Hundred Reasons at the venue “at least 46 times” before adding: “Don’t let it shut down!”

Speak with Yorkshire PostRichard Hawley paid tribute to the venue – he recalled playing there “hundreds of times” as a solo artist and during his time with The Longpigs and Treebound Story before comparing it to other iconic gig spaces in the UK.

“Basically it’s like our cave, it’s our hacienda,” he said. “The thing about The Leadmill is that it’s people-centric, it’s not niche. That’s where I saw the Stone Roses – that’s where I met Mani from the Roses and we became lifelong friends.

“The range (of artists that have performed there) is overwhelming, just the nights that I’ve personally seen or played, that’s my whole life. I’m 55 now and I think I first played there when I was about 16.”

Bring Me The Horizon's Oli Sykes shared his support for the Leadmill on Instagram. Photo Credit: Still Image/Instagram
Bring Me The Horizon’s Oli Sykes shared his support for the Leadmill on Instagram. Photo Credit: Still Image/Instagram

Hawley continued: “My whole adult life is there, but as an asset to the city it causes me great concern, not just for The Leadmill itself but for the city as a whole. I think the city is on the brink of a cultural catastrophe.”

He added that losing The Leadmill would be a “true tragedy” for the city and that he believed the “powers of the music world” would support him.

“The thought of losing it for the city is too abhorrent to contemplate. It would be very desolate without The Leadmill, it’s literally a beacon in the dark, culturally and physically.”

His former Pulp bandmate Jarvis Cocker, meanwhile, simply added, “This should be an April Fool’s joke.”

Jarvis Cocker
Jarvis Cocker. Credit: John Phillips/Getty Images

Also last week, Martyn Ware of Sheffield’s new wave legends Heaven 17 responded to a statement from the Electric Group boss, stating: “You run a business – people understand that – but your company is unconscionable when it fires people, Running this venue for over 40 years and thereby ending the culturally iconic Leadmill status and discarding the brand is both idiotic and immoral.

“I and thousands of others urge you to reconsider, or I fear the brand reputation you have successfully built (financially, at least) will be irreparably damaged. People have spoken, you have to listen…”

Electric Group CEO Dominic Madden told Twitter followers last week, “For the avoidance of doubt, we are music people, we spend our lives running independent music venues and Leadmill will continue to operate as a special music venue.”

Madden – whose businesses also own London’s Electric Brixton, Bristol’s SWX nightclub and NX Newcastle – added: “Management may change but the song remains the same.”

Mike Weller, Electric Group’s Head of Music, said: “Despite all the social media chat, there was never a room for us to close Leadmill.

“The renovation will better equip the space to meet the modern demands of live music and club nights for audiences and performers alike. We want to make sure the future of Leadmill is as exciting as its history.”

Along with Madden, Electric Group is a joint venture with Jake Lewis of the Lewis family, which operates retailer River Island, hotels, real estate development and wealth management.

NME has reached out to both Electric Group and The Leadmill for further comment.

https://www.nme.com/news/music/local-stars-rally-around-leadmill-as-new-owners-register-for-name-electric-sheffield-3197594?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=local-stars-rally-around-leadmill-as-new-owners-register-for-name-electric-sheffield Local stars gather around Leadmill as new owners register to use the Electric Sheffield name

Caroline Bleakley

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