Straight up, let’s talk about the appearance of the weekend – one that pretty much made everyone’s Leeds Festival. No, not KASABIAN. Sunshine. Glorious sunshine. All three days at Bramham Park saw thousands of live music lovers basking in the unusual weather.
Who’d have thought about bringing sun cream and sunglasses with them when packing wellies and waterproofs? No-one, that’s who.
The weather was perfect, and the plethora of bands who brightened up our bank holiday weekend even more meant that, despite the fairly lacklustre line-up on the Main Stage, we had one of the best Leeds Festivals in years.
From the bright new things on the BBC Introducing and Festival Republic stages to the (not-so-) secret sets from some of the biggest acts around, we caught a pretty eclectic mix of ace live music.
The opening show of the weekend for us was the ever-cool Josh Homme and his QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, who celebrated the release of their seventh album Villains with a not-so-secret set.
Walking on stage (with a bit of a limp and a cane) after a sing-along to Afternoon Delight, Homme and band tore through a short, sharp set made up of tracks from their new album and a couple of big hitters and fan faves.
The other secret show of the weekend came from WOLF ALICE, also celebrating the release of their new album. The London four-piece teased their appearance on social media, and drew a decent, excitable crowd for a Sunday lunchtime.
Bleary eyes widened and hungover heads began bouncing as Ellie Rowsell and band dive straight into Don’t Delete The Kisses. Yuk Foo and Beautifully Unconventional offer the first taste of what to expect from their second album, Visions Of A Life, but we’re not treated to any other previously-unheard album cuts. But with bangers like Bros, You’re A Germ and Mona Lisa Smile, we’re cool with that.
The bands which piqued our interests over the weekend featured in the smaller print on that iconic yellow poster. From the garage noise of PALE WAVES and shimmering guitar-pop of SUPERFOOD to the wired punk racket of London rockers M O S E S and Bristol’s IDLES.
We appear to have watched most of the Dirty Hit label roster over the Leeds Festival weekend. MARIKA HACKMAN and THE JAPANESE HOUSE provided some light relief from crunching riffs with their joyous spacial sounds. Marika’s newer tunes have a bit more grit about them, less alt-folk, more alt-rock, while Amber Bain’s cool electro-fused guitar-pop fizzes with effect-laden vocals and bubbling synth.
And there’s plenty of local talent flying the White Rose flag at Yorkshire’s biggest festival. Bingley rockers MARMOZETS got wild with tunes from their new album sandwiched inside thrash-pop hits Move, Shake Hide and Why Do You Hate Me? Singer Becca Macintyre prowls across the NME/Radio 1 stage with intent, while her brother Josh struggles to stay behind the drum kit. Awesome band. We love them.
FIZZY BLOOD, whose new EP Summer Of Luv came out last week, delivered a solid set of punk offerings with their debut appearance at Leeds Festival. We could have sworn they’ve played there before. Never mind. Always an absolute delight to watch live, the foursome drew a really decent crowd as they tore through a punchy-as-hell set featuring tunes from their new EP.
KING-NO-ONE from York returned to Leeds Festival to open the NME/Radio 1 stage on Sunday lunchtime, stopping the crowds from heading further into the arena with their upbeat indie-pop.
And this year’s Centre Stage winners AVENOIR from Leeds won their spot on the BBC Introducing Stage with a thunderous collection of vital, visceral grunge punk. The trio seemed to be more than comfortable on the stage, performing like they’ve been doing it for years, despite only being together for just over a year.
In the Festival Republic stage, we caught WILL JOSEPH COOK for the first time – clearly behind the times here. The tent was packed with fans singing back every word as the Kent-born singer-songwriter poured sugar-coated guitar-pop from the stage. Melodies popped and burst to life as bouncing tunes from his Sweet Dreamer album filled our heads and had us humming Biggest Fan as we got ready the next morning.
Similarly, the widescreen explosion of DECLAN McKENNA‘s joyous turn on the NME/Radio 1 Stage had us dancing away. There are serious socio-political undertones which often get lost beneath the youngster’s jangly indie-pop and primary-colour grandeur, but keen ears can pick up on a side to our ‘lost generation’ rarely shown.
As well as all the action on the smaller stages, there was plenty of enjoyment had over by the Main Stage for our favourites JIMMY EAT WORLD and Saturday’s opening act JUDAS, who celebrated a return to that hallowed platform with an accomplished turn, nursing hangovers with their sure-fire indie tunes. Keep an eye on them as they creep up the bill in years to come.
The headliners book-ending the weekend proved Leeds Festival can still bring out the big guns, although we admit we did turn our noses up when first heard the announcements.
Eighteen years on from their rather more modest debut at the first-ever Leeds Festival, MUSE celebrated their third headline show by being predictably over the top with their stage set-up on the Friday night. Kicking things off with new tune Dig Down, the trio treated fans to a set peppered with rareties and raucous hit singles complete with flashy lights, lasers and pyrotechnics.
And it was third time lucky for Detroit rapper EMINEM whose Sunday night headline slot was nothing short of awesome. With his trademark bleached hair gone, so too was the arrogance and attitude, replaced this year with a refreshing sense of honesty and humour.
Packing his festival finale with all the hip-hop hero’s hits, Eminem – and his hype man Mr Porter – switched controversy surrounding his performance to political subjugation as he blasted the US President, rallying the Leeds Festival crowd to chant “Fuck Trump”.
Tickets for Leeds Festival 2018 are already on sale, and with the first headliner announcement due around the end of the year, will you be buying yours now, or will you hold off until the line-up is looking good?
We honestly thought this year’s line-up was the least appealing in years, but we had so much fun over the weekend, we barely noticed the distinct lack of Frank Turner for the first time in a decade. See you back in Bramham Park in 2018, yeah?