More artists from the Sheffield music scene have voiced their support for local venue The Leadmill, as it has emerged that the new owners have registered for the name Electric Sheffield.
Last week, the iconic Sheffield venue and club told music fans of the “devastating news that in one year’s time, our Landlord is trying to evict us, forcing us to close” – leading to an outpouring of upset and support from the music world.
The current bosses of Sheffield’s Leadmill then responded to the owners denying their intentions to close the venue. Leaders of Electric Group, the company who bought the freehold for the site of the Leadmill in March 2017, argued that they’d be removing the current management but keeping 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 venue in Sheffield, UK, since the venue shut in 2020 due to the Covid 19 pandemic (Credit Image: © Myles Wright/ZUMA Press Wire)
The current management then hit back, arguing that they were being “exterminated by the landlord”.
“They are destroying our business by evicting us,” they said in a statement to NME. “They intend to profit from the goodwill and reputation built up over those 40 plus years. It is a cheap, shabby, sly and underhand way of doing business, by forcing companies to cease trading.”
“Millions of pounds have been spent by The Leadmill (not the Landlord) on the fabric of what was once a derelict building. It is the hard-working, dedicated and local family of staff that have put 42 years worth of their blood, sweat and tears into making it the cultural asset it is today. Without The Leadmill, the building we currently occupy would be nothing more than a derelict old flour mill.”
Now, it has emerged that Electric Group have registered for the trademark ‘Electric Sheffield’. A listing on the UK government’s Intellectual Property Office website shows that the application was filed by the Brixton-based company on February 3, 2022, for services relating to nightclubs, entertainment, live entertainment, hosting of musical events; Provision of live entertainment, as well as bar and restaurant services.
Arctic Monkeys share support of The Leadmill CREDIT: Arctic Monkeys / Instagram
This comes as more artists from the Sheffield music scene have spoken out in support of The Leadmill. The weekend saw Arctic Monkeys show support for the #WeCantLoseLeadmill campaign on Instagram, after the band helped raise over £100,000 for the venue to survive COVID closures last year by raffling off one of Alex Turner‘s guitars.
Over the weekend, Bring Me The Horizon‘s Oli Sykes also shared his support on Instagram.
The frontman told followers how he saw cult Brit-rockers Hundred Reasons “at least 46 times” at the venue, before adding: “Don’t let it shutdown!”
Speaking to Yorkshire Post, Richard Hawley paid tribute to the venue – recalling how he’s played there “hundreds of times” as a solo artist and during his time with The Longpigs and Treebound Story, before likening it to other iconic gig spaces in the UK.
“Basically it’s like our Cavern, it’s our Hacienda,” he said. “The thing about The Leadmill is it caters for human beings, it’s not like a niche thing. I saw the Stone Roses there – that’s where I met Mani from the Roses and we’ve become lifelong friends.
“The breadth (of artists who have appeared there) is staggering, just the nights that I personally have either seen or played, it’s my whole life. I’m 55 now and I think I played there first when I was about 16.”
Bring Me The Horizon’s Oli Sykes shared his support for the Leadmill on Instagram. Credit: Still/Instagram
Hawley continued: “My whole adult life is there, but as an asset to the city it’s deeply troubled me, not just for The Leadmill itself but for the city as a whole. I think the city is on the verge of cultural catastrophe.”
He added that it would be a “real tragedy” for the city to lose The Leadmill, and that he believed the “forces-that-be in the music world” would come out in support.
“The thought of losing it for the city is too hideous 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 had better be an April Fool’s joke.”
Jarvis Cocker. Credit: John Phillips/Getty Images
Last week also saw Martyn Ware of Sheffield new-wave legends Heaven 17 reply to a statement from the boss of Electric Group, stating: “You are running a business – people understand that – but your company’s unconscionable behaviour in kicking out the people who have run this venue for over 40 years, 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 reputation of your brand which you have developed successfully (at least financially) will be harmed beyond repair. The people have spoken, you need to listen…”
Electric Group CEO Dominic Madden told Twitter followers last week: “For avoidance of doubt, we are music people, we spend our lives running independent music venues and the Leadmill will continue to operate as a special music venue.”
Madden – whose company also own London’s Electric Brixton, the SWX nightclub in Bristol, and NX Newcastle – added: “The management may change but the song stays the same.”
Electric Group’s head of music Mike Weller said: “There was never any question of us closing the Leadmill, despite all the social media chat.
“The refurb will make the room better equipped to accommodate the modern wants of live music and club nights, for audiences and performers. We want to ensure the Leadmill’s future is as exciting as its history.”
Along with Madden, Electric Group is a joint venture with Jake Lewis of the Lewis Family who run retailer River Island, along with hotels, property development and asset management businesses.
NME has reached out to both Electric Group and The Leadmill for further comment.