Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Rock N Roll Circus returns to Sheffield for unforgettable weekend

Rock N Roll Circus returned to Sheffield’s Don Valley Bowl this weekend for a two-day festival full of fun, fire and unforgettable live music. As well as exceptional shows from some of the biggest artist’s and bands around, the big top also saw ariel artists, contortionists, and acrobats to make this festival even more unique and exciting. 

The weekend was filled to the brim with surprise and everyone there had a huge smile on their face. The site made festival goers feel like they had been emersed into a circus fantasy as fire breathers welcomed you into the arena before you walked into a vibrant field providing you with food, drinks, the big top and a circus school. It certainly was a weekend to remember!  

On Sunday, the big top welcomed Arctic Numpties to really get the Sheffield atmosphere going. The Arctic Monkeys tribute act who are about to embark on a UK tour performing tracks from Monkey’s most recent album ‘The Car’ performed all the hits such as ‘505’ and ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ to get the festival goers of Sheffield in the mood for a day full of exhilaration.  

Next on the Big Top stage was the one and only Bimini. Bimini Bon Boulash made herstory on Series 2 of Drag Race UK and the country fell in love with them and everything they stand for. Bimini gave Sheffield a show full of sexy sentimentality performing her lustful tracks that hold a lot of emotion in the lyrics. Bimini spoke from the heart during her set in an honest speech they gave in between tracks about the government and how the LGBTQ+ community needs to be supported more. The crowd screamed and shouted in encouragement which made the festival’s community united to make the atmosphere even more special. One of the highlights of Bimini’s set was when they covered ‘Blue Monday’ by New Order mixed with ‘You Spin Me Round’ by Dead or Alive to create an iconic song sung with Bimini’s unbelievable vocals. They put on a spectacular performance featuring Bimini’s impeccable dance moves and splits that left the crowd in awe.  

As the sun was setting over the big top, inside the tent was a band that lightened everything up with their luminescent boobs. Yes, you heard me right, light up costumes can only mean one thing… it’s Confidence Man. The Australian 4-man party opened their flawless set with ‘Toy Boy’, a song from their deservedly acclaimed 2nd album ‘Tilt’Sugar Bones and Janet Planet performed their opening track with class and sass in their oversized shoulder suits as they always do, which is the perfect introduction to Confidence Man. The energy and vigorousness this band ooze’s fills the venue with pure happiness which exuberated even more during their latest single with DJ Seinfeld ‘Now U Do’. This catchy joyful track left no festival goer standing still and you best believe I was doing every dance move to this song! Confidence Man DJ’s Reggie Goodchild and Clarence McGuffie got the crowd hyped by teasing unreleased music which was pure school disco techno music heaven! Of course, the most chaotic track on the Confidence Man setlist was ‘C.O.O.L Party’. Janet busts her self-assertive grooves to the right of the stage as she tells the audience about ‘‘the party of the year’’. And on the left side of the stage, Sugar sprays champagne over the audience and himself to immerse everyone in the ‘C.O.O.L Party’ experience.Confidence Man are an extra ordinary band because they manage to get every single person in a room (or tent) dancing and smiling, even if you aren’t familiar with their music which is something not many musicians can do nowadays. They are a captivating one-of-a-kind band that everyone must see live.  

Rock N Roll Circus’ headliner Self Esteem bought her final ‘Prioritise Pleasure’ show to her hometown to create an emotional and inspirational performance that punters had been waiting for. Throughout the day, there were fans in Self-Esteem-inspired costumes and merch which shows how much of an impact her music has on her fans and the important message she performs. The opener to her emotional finale was none other than ‘Prioritise Pleasure’ followed by ‘Fucking Wizardry’ which gave me goosebumps. Her voice is so powerful and this mixed with her empathetic lyrics such as ‘‘I ignored the warnings, but from that, I’m learning’’ created such a poignant musical paradise. Her whole performance was an art form, from the costumes to the dancing and every person there appreciated the little details of her performance. Self Esteem arrived on stage in a grey suit that matched her band making the whole set unified. During her 3rd track on the setlist ‘Moody’, Self Esteem’s dancers and backing vocalists slowly undressed from their suits with anger and passion into a bright red outfit which signified the common theme of misogyny and the annoyance that comes with it. The whole band delivered a chapter of the show in the red costumes which was performed with powerful and punchy dance moves to coincide with the vexed topics Self Esteem covers in her music. The emotion Self Esteem and her show bled was chilling and touching and a pure example of this was during her track ‘I Do This All The Time’, especially the lyrics ‘‘Don't be embarrassed that all you've had is fun, prioritise pleasure’’ which the crowd screamed back to her which such passion and intensity showing the importance of her words. Self Esteem and her band shed tears throughout the night which made her finale of ‘Prioritise Pleasure’ a heartbreaking yet inspiring performance. 

Rock N Roll Circus 2023 was a spectacular and memorable festival which was the perfect end to an amazing summer of festivities, and I can’t wait to see what the big top will hold next year. 

Alice Mason 

@alicemxson / @alicegoestogigs 

Image:  Huw Williams for Rock N Roll Circus

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