Live Review: The Wired / Ashley Holland, The Rocking Chair, Sheffield, 19.08.16

The Wired at The Rocking Chair
The Wired at The Rocking Chair

The Wired are a blossoming little indie pop band from Sheffield who clearly have their sights set on the big time and following in the footsteps of the local greats who came before them like Pulp, the Arctic Monkeys and new kids on the block, the Sherlocks.

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the Wired in one shape or form on two occasions previously: an intimate acoustic act with just lead singer Caleb at the very same venue and a sold out, packed to the rafters double bill with their neighbours the SSS at Sheffield’s famous Leadmill (see linked reviews). Tonight’s gig sees them in warm up mode ahead of a huge festival slot, playing Leeds Festival on the weekend of the 26th-28th August.

Before they take to the stage, they are given superb support from singer songwriter Ashley Holland. He takes to the stage in the still-a-bit-empty room and apologises if he’s not 100% as he was only confirmed to play an hour or so ago. He needn’t have worried as he deftly wields his guitar and fills the room with his rich, rock/pop vocals which soar into plaintive falsetto and boom out rugged rock chorus after chorus. With his tousled hair and neatly groomed beard, he strikes me as the kind of naturally talented young man who separates from a band early only to get ground up in the X Factor meat grinder before getting back to the their core business and it’s only after the gig when doing my research that I realise Ashley Holland was indeed part of local hero band the Ratells who played their last gigs in 2015.

Ashley Holland at The Rocking Chair
Ashley Holland at The Rocking Chair

He treats us to a number of tracks which flit between indie, pop and rock and definitely swerve into the more romantic side of things, a point he notes when abashedly addressing the crowd of mainly male observers before finding a girl in the audience and segueing into a song he says is “about sex”. His charm and outstanding vocals make the short set a real pleasure and his cover of Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” fits naturally into his list. You could easily imagine him becoming a pop heartthrob if he chose to go that way, soundtracking the latest US teen drama with his emotive singing, but it feels like there’s more to him than just that.

Check out Ashley’s Twitter and Facebook for more information.

So, onto the headliners, The Wired. The youthful indie band, formed at high school sixth form but now a mainstay of the local scene, have played at some prestigious venues including this year’s Tramlines. As mentioned earlier, they are set to play the Jack Rocks stage at the Leeds Festival, where they’ll be showcasing their talent alongside other up and coming acts curated by rock ‘n’ roll club night This Feeling.

The Wired's Caleb Smelt
The Wired’s Caleb Smelt

Caleb (vocals), Jacob (lead guitar), Richard (bass) and Harris (drums) are full of energy tonight and playfully take us through nine tightly written and performed tracks. There’s plenty of on-stage banter and the group seem genuinely excited to be performing, possibly looking ahead to the bigger excitement of Leeds the next weekend. As a frontman, Caleb is like a coiled spring, hurtling around the stage, kicking his shoes off, leaping down into the audience to almost conduct the rest of the band and reclaim his pint at one point, but always proving himself an interesting and eminently watchable young man. His vocals have an earnest quality and a proper cracked indie snarl when required.

The Wired at The Rocking Chair
The Wired at The Rocking Chair

They open with last single “Fit the Feel” which perfectly sets out their stall as a slightly whimsical, but poppy and instantly catchy indie anthem which delivers a singalong chorus and is sure to get festival crowds swaying and “woah”ing along. A real jewel in their set is their cover of Nolan Porter’s “If I Could Only Be Sure”, which sounds moody and dangerous, like Northern Soul sung by the Doors.

Brand new single “Long Lost Days” is introduced as a song about working in a crap job (but with a good boss, Caleb adds, perhaps noticing said boss in the audience!) and is another sunshine-infused track which bounces along like one of Pulp’s finest anecdotal ditties. It then transitions into a more self-reflective chorus with sweet guitars Arctic Monkeys fans will approve of and then builds via Harris’ insistent drumming to a full on rousing finish.

“Ageing Youth” begins with a euphoric swirl of guitars like a stadium-filling classic by U2 or Kings of Leon and acquits itself admirably alongside those greats. Across the last minute or so breakdown of the song, the band almost duel one another, giving their all to get to the heart of the song and it all winds down in a triumphant, satisfying end. It must be noted that Harris’s drum heroics are mightily impressive throughout the entire set (I struggled to photograph him for the most part, him being typically a frantic sweaty blur!).

The Wired's Harris Slater
The Wired’s Harris Slater

New song “Welcome to Paradise” and favourite set-closer “Critique” bring the night to an end. Both the band and audience are tired but energised, sweaty but satisfied and looking forward to much bigger venues to come. The Wired may be young and probably still have a long, exciting road ahead of them, but based on their current form, they’re an intriguing chunk of raw talent with a great ear for an indie anthem.

The Wired's Caleb Smelt
The Wired’s Caleb Smelt


• Fit the Feel
• Lost it As You Were Leaving
• Darling Don’t
• If I Could Only Be Sure (cover)
• Little Too Young
• Long Lost Days
• Ageing Youth
• Welcome to Paradise
• Critique

Check The Wired out on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and soundcloud .

See them at Leeds Festival’s Jack Rocks / This Feeling stage this coming weekend.

Previous Track: I am Karate - Swayze
Next See: Lake Komo announce October tour dates, stream Manners demo

No Comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.