Astronaut Helen Sharman joins Richard Hawley on stage at Sheffield’s Leadmill for the final night of his homecoming shows

·2 min read

Astronaut Helen Sharman joined Richard Hawley on stage for the final night of his homecoming residency at the iconic Sheffield Leadmill.

Sharman, the first British astronaut to travel into space, was the fourth guest to make a surprise appearance at Hawleys’ string of shows. Jarvis Cocker, Self Esteem and artist Pete McKee also shared the stage with the 55-year-old during the week.

She delivered a short speech about the venue’s importance to Sheffield and the importance of following your passions before Hawley launched into a David Bowie cover.

Former Pulp member Hawley has just finished his 4-night-run of sold-out shows at the legendary venue in aid of supporting its ongoing closure battle.

The Leadmill, which has been operating under the current management for the last 40 years, was given an eviction notice in March this year.

Leadmill’s new landlords, who also own Electric Brixton in London, say they intend to keep the Leadmill as a music venue, but will remove the current management.

However, Leadmill’s current team argues that this is still destroying the venue and its spirit.

In April they told NME:“They [the landlords] 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.”

On Tuesday night (9 August), Hawley was joined by his ex-bandmate, Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker.

The performance saw Cocker perform on the venue’s stage for the first time in 29 years.

Cocker, who performed the band’s first ever gig at Leadmill in August 1980, expressed his concern for the venue’s pending closure.

Describing the venue as “a form of magic” he said that the Leadmill was “more than a building” adding “it’s a feeling”.

“Have some respect for a beautiful thing,” said Cocker, addressing the venue’s new landlords, “they may own the bricks and mortar, but they don’t own the spirit of the Leadmill”.

The pair then sung together, covering The Velvet Underground’s “White Light/White Heat” before dueting Hawley’s unreleased track about the Leadmill titled “The Sunset” .

Self Esteem also made a surprise appearance at the venue on Monday (8 August), joining Hawley on stage to sing “These Boots Are Made For Walkin” (Nancy Sinatra), along with “Fever” (Peggy Lee).

On Thursday night, it was artist Pete McKee’s turn for a surprise appearance.

The Leadmill currently have a petition running to campaign against their eviction, which is set for March 2023.