During the second night of Hawley’s sold-out, four-date residency in support of the Leadmill – which faces closure after being given an eviction notice in March – Cocker reaffirmed his support for the legendary venue. Pulp performed their first full gig at the venue nearly 42 years ago, in August 1980.
“It’s more than this building and this stage, it’s something that’s grown over years and it’s a feeling,” Cocker said of the Leadmill. “It’s like a form of magic.” He then addressed the venue’s landlords, adding that “they may own the bricks and mortar, but they don’t own the spirit of the Leadmill”, and urging them to “have some respect for a beautiful thing”.
Hawley and Cocker went on to perform a cover of The Velvet Underground‘s ‘White Light/White Heat’ together, along with an unreleased song by Hawley titled ‘A Sunset’ – titled after the venue’s original logo.
Similarly, the previous night, Hawley had been joined by Self Esteem (Rebecca Lucy Taylor) to perform two songs together – Peggy Lee‘s ‘Fever’ and Nancy Sinatra‘s ‘These Boots Are Made For Walkin’. Hawley has said he will be joined by special guests at all four shows of the residency, which continues tomorrow night (August 11) before wrapping up on Friday (August 12).
In March, the Leadmill shared with music fans the “devastating news” that “in one year’s time, our landlord is trying to evict us, forcing us to close” – leading to an outpouring of upset and support from the music world.
When the venue’s owners argued they’d be removing the current management but keeping the building as a music venue after renovations, the current bosses of the venue hit back. They responded that removing the management team who had been running the site since 1980 still counted as “evicting the Leadmill”, claiming they were being “exterminated by the landlord”.
“They are destroying our business by evicting us,” they said in a statement to NME. “They intend to profit from the goodwill and reputation built up over those 40 plus years. It is a cheap, shabby, sly and underhand way of doing business, by forcing companies to cease trading.”
In April, Cocker showed support for the Leadmill, sharing Pulp-inspired art designed by Graeme Swinton, who the band collaborated with for a a promotional campaign ahead of the release of 1995’s ‘Common People’.
Hawley, meanwhile has previously stated the Leadmill is the city’s equivalent of the Cavern or Haçienda, telling the Yorkshire Post in April that Sheffield is “on the verge of cultural catastrophe” if the venue closes.
“The thought of losing it for the city is too hideous to contemplate,” he added. “It would be very desolate without The Leadmill, it’s literally a beacon in the dark culturally and physically.”
You can support The Leadmill by signing the venue’s petition, which is calling for the suspension of Section 25 of the Landlord and Tenant Act.
Meanwhile, Cocker confirmed last month that Pulp will regroup in 2023 for reunion shows. The band last performed together in late 2012.