Sheffield is as famous for its live music bars and live music clubs as it is for its cutlery. Arctic Monkeys, Human League, Jarvis Cocker and Def Leppard all began in Sheffield. Whilst you can see live music by attending Tramlines, if this is the only time you see bands play in the city then you are missing out. There are a number of small music venues around Sheffield where you can see bands play, with some offering live music for free, where you can catch up-and-coming bands before they get famous.
The Harley is an intimate 200 capacity bar next to Sheffield university, offering a mix of music both live and via the decks. Considered by many to be the best bar to hang out in Sheffield with it’s legendary club nights, Harley has also hosted great bands including Long Blondes in their early days as well as the Arctic Monkeys and Milburn. More recently, Slaves played there ahead of their O2 date later the same month. Whilst Harley Live can get very hot and crowded, it provides the perfect atmosphere when seeing a smaller band.
Harley Live puts on gigs all year round. It starts the weekend early, showcasing the newest Sheffield sounds every Thursday, with Friday and Saturday offering a roster of Europe’s finest musicians from every genre. As a quirky, free-thinking and independent organisation, Harley Live artists are booked by the same people that programme the Tramlines Festival – Sheffield’s biggest and best music event and proud owner of a Best Metropolitan Festival award. You can stay at the Harley hotel after a gig.
Opened in 2005, Plug is considered as one of Sheffield’s largest independent live music clubs and has hosted live performances from The Prodigy, Patti Smith and Lily Allen. Plug aims to consistently bring the very best of established and emerging acts to the stage. As a venue, Plug dances perfectly on the tightrope between grandiosity and intimacy, bringing audiences awe-inspiring live and DJ performances in a perfectly proportioned setting.
The Leadmill is Sheffield’s longest running music venue and is probably the best-known music venue in Sheffield. First opened in 1980, the venue supported the early careers of Muse, Oasis, Coldplay, White Stripes, Stereophonics and more. Britpop band Pulp played their first ever gig here in 1980, as the plaque outside the venue states. The Arctic Monkeys launched both their Brit Award-winning albums here. Past acts range from Coldplay to The Stone Roses and Leadmill remains the perfect place to see decently famous acts in a venue with more character than some of Sheffield’s larger night clubs.
Dove & Rainbow
Part of Sheffield’s thriving music scene, the Dove & Rainbow is recognised internationally with bands coming to play from the local area, but also the US, Australia, Ireland and Europe. Considering itself to be the home of rock, real ale and live music in Sheffield, this delightfully scruffy watering hole with scuffed floorboards hosts regular live music nights. It’s a little out of the way, but well worth a visit.
Bungalows and Bears
Once a fire station the Bungalows and Bears bar and restaurant is a spacious venue perfect for hosting live music. Its free gigs have showcased some of the country’s best up-and-coming talent, with Wolf Alice, Daughter, and Drenge all playing here. More recently, headliners have included The Japanese House and The Magic Gang. The venue is part of Tramlines Fringe organised by Harley Live, and offers live music for free all weekend.
Many former employees at the friendly bar The Boardwalk are now well known musicians. It was here that you could hear the of early shows by Joe Cocker and the late Robert Palmer. This city centre bar (when it was named The Black Swan) also hosted the legendary The Clash and Sex Pistols. This brave bookings policy continues, with unsigned hopefuls sharing listing space with niche veterans and tribute acts.
The Greystones is a friendly, traditional, award-winning pub. Along with regular jazz and swing nights, Greystones is one of several live music bars with gigs starting at 21:00hrs and all free to attend.