Wednesday night saw the Harley host indie rockers Hooton Tennis Club, for a highly anticipated gig that saw the hallowed pub-turned-venue fill with eager fans of the Liverpool quartet. After brief support from Sheffield locals Ish-Brother and up and comers Beach Baby, Hooton Tennis Club (or ‘HTC’ as one fan gleefully calls out) take to the stage with ‘Up In The Air’, the first track off their debut album ‘Highest Point In Cliff Town’.
It’s hard to pin down their sound as they saunter through the album with tracks like ‘I’m Not Going Roses Again’, and ‘Kathleen Sat On the Arm Of Her Favourite Chair’. It’s friendly, bouncy and unrefined in the best possible way. Singer Ryan Murphy’s nasally, almost tuneless vocal lines effortlessly flow over the intertwining guitar parts. It sounds somewhere between Jonathan Richman and New York rockers Parquet Quarts; laid back but earnest, and endearingly so. Well you could say Liverpool is the New York of the UK. Maybe…
They’re an odd bunch too, bassist Callum Mcfadden making two costume changes as the set carries on. He dons a pair of glasses procured from the joyful crowd before pulling a beanie hat right over his face to look like some twisted honorary member of Pussy Riot, just as the band launch into their first single ‘Jasper’. They also perform this strange seemingly improvised bobbing dance as they play, continuing with the third single off the album ‘P.O.W.E.R.F.U.L. P.I.E.R.R.E.’, to the delight of the crowd.
Before we know it the gig is over, but not before ‘HTC’ come back on for a triumphant encore, gratifyingly having to play The Modern Lovers’ ‘Roadrunner’ due to their current lack of material. They even dutifully sing the line ‘I’m in love with Sheffield’ instead of ‘Massachusetts’ to the pure joy of the screaming audience. No Hooton Tennis Club, Sheffield is in love with you. These are one’s to watch.