In 2003, Ian Boyle of Stonecapes, a Sheffield based dry stone artist, created the Tobhta Shelter in Glen Howe Park, just north of Sheffield. Yellow6 were asked to play at its inauguration that August. The event was repeated a year on with Portal and Epic45 playing, and now in 2005 with most of the active Make Mine Music label artists in attendance. As one of the performers (Yellow6), and someone who is a musician not a writer, it's difficult for me to be objective (and interesting?) but I'll try.
So the shelter is in a clearing in the woods, on a green English hillside. Access is by steep footpath or 4x4 (for the equipment and PA). The day started with mostly families sitting around in the sunshine, children playing football, making kites, and making a row in the drumming workshops.
A PA was set up in the shelter with a covered 'stage' area. The music started late afternoon with a slimmed down Epic45 (just the two of them: Ben and Rob) with a set of tape manipulations. I used this as an excuse to take a walk through the oods where the drones and loops of Epic45 drifted through the trees over the sound of the stream... very idyllic but probably quite eery for those out for an afternoon stroll with no idea of what was going on up the hill. An interesting departure for Epic45 from their usual guitar based songs, but a worthwhile one they will hopefully pursue in the future.
July Skies followed with Anthony joined by Ben and Rob from Epic45. The music seemed perfectly in place here in the summer sunshine with the chiming guitars and whistful vocals drifting across the sun drenched field. I have to admit that I have not really got into July Skies recorded output but in this setting the music was just perfect and it all fell into place and everything seemed just right.
Portal, playing what is rumoured to be their final gig, came along next with a (last minute change of plan) solo set from Scott. Some from the new album, some old favourites, and once again, strangely at home in the open air. Scott, sitting on an amplifier used a guitar and laptop to great effect along with samples and his distinctive distorted drone guitar. Hopefully this won't be the last we hear of him, either as Portal or otherwise.
Following the departure of most of the families and children, to leave only the resilient few (and the other bands), Yellow6 played our debut gig as a duo, including vocalist Ally Todd. The set was 5 songs from the new album, Melt Inside, which despite feeling a little unsure of what we were doing, went very smoothly. It seems a big change to add vocals to a project which has been purely instrumental for 7 years, but feels so natural from my perspective. In some ways a bit of a risk to take, and one that wasn't really planned but just seemed to happen. I am extremely positive about this direction I can't comment on the perception from an audience point of view but no-one left during the set!
There may well be future performances and I would definitely recommend it for a relaxing day out and the chance to catch some of this music in a very different, and extremely pleasant setting.