It’s Saturday and I’m at The Leadmill, a venue I’ve not been to for at least five years. I’m here to see I Set the Sea on Fire, a hotly tipped five piece from right here in Sheffield. They’ve been making waves recently with a couple of singles, the best of which, “Monsters”, is a catchy and affable little tune and to all intents and purposes they are building an audience the traditional way, by playing live and letting word of mouth enhance their reputation.
Having been to enough gigs at The Leadmill in the past, I’ve got my favoured spot to watch the act and once I’ve established myself there with some liquid refreshment, I watch a couple of the other acts on tonight’s bill. There’s some amusing attempts by already over-refreshed audience members to crowd surf during the set of a frighteningly young and energetic three piece act, but on the whole I’m just soaking in the ambience and noting how little The Leadmill has changed since I first came in in the late 90s. There’s something very reassuring about that.
By the time I Set the Sea on Fire arrive on stage, the small but enthusiastic crowd is already loosened up and refreshed and receptive to their blend of indie, folk and funk. While not the kind of act I usually see live, the three boy / two girl line up are a charming and endearing stage presence, their set list being taut and no nonsense. There are no rock star ego-trips on display, nor is there any awkward shuffling and staring at shoes, just five bright young things on the cusp of breaking out to a wider audience. It’s pleasing to note that the fizzy energy that they display in the studio translates well on stage, and the four vocalists blend together as well live as they do on their singles to date. In terms of vocals, there’s something very Of Monsters and Men about I Set the Sea on Fire. In terms of instrumentation, particularly the set performed on Saturday night, there are similarities to The Coral, or maybe even the Zutons about them, particularly in their rhythm patterns.
It’s going to be fascinating to see what the future holds for I Set the Sea on Fire. Their fanbase is steadily growing and they seem to be poised to be noticed on a national scale. They have all the tools and talent necessary to make an impact if they want to, all it will take is that one single to ignite the interest of national radio and in “Monsters”, they may very well have already released it. I Set the Sea on Fire could be ready to catapult onto a far larger stage, so my advice is to catch them in these smaller venues while you still can.