Strap yourselves in; the festival season is starting up again (Hallelujah!). In annual fashion, a venue-crammed Live at Leeds is part of the curtain raiser. Whilst there are bigger and more sprawling dates on the calendar ahead, you can count on West Yorkshire’s largest inner-city music festival to be a highly vibrant warm up to the summer.
As the first big band to enter the fray, White Lies fronted a 3pm slot at 02 Academy – curiously early considering the long, snaking queue outside the venue. The set is a mixed bag of word-for-word, fan-favourite sing-alongs, and slumping new experiments alike.
Then, soon after Atlas Wynd’s hailing storm of bluesy rock, a return to the 02 sees The Amazons greeted by a fervent cult following. Hyperbole or not, the sense of ceremony and hype that surrounded the indie-rock quartet is immense.
In their typical raucous way, punk outfit Idles seem to be bringing the roof down at the next port of call – The Key Club. Debut album ‘Brutalism’ packs a welterweight punch, with enough politically charged whack to knock a blue whale out. “The best way to scare a tory is to read and get rich” screams lead Joe Talbot. Nobody captures the zeitgeist better.
[contentblock id=141 img=adsense.png]
Next up, Jagwar Ma’s epic set is comfortably the pinnacle of the day. Their bubbling melting pot of psychedelic dance is infectiously animated; tracks such as ‘Come Save Me’ and ‘Slipping’ prove to be absolute bangers on both recorded and live platforms.
Finally, Wild Beasts take to the Leeds Beckett main stage to close the one-day event. Just like how the day started, the set is completely mixed.
The performance begins strong; ‘We Still Got The Taste Dancin’ On Our Tongues’ boasts gorgeous, weaving harmony. The off-kilter melodies of ‘Ponytail’ follow with razor-sharp conviction. But unfortunately, the 2nd half sags and rumbles on around five songs too long – reflective of their hit and miss catalogue.
You can put your mortgage on today’s array of talent creeping up festival bills over the next few years – the brains behind Live At Leeds have a knack for picking a rock solid collection of potential-rammed buzz names. Inner-city music festivals are in fashion. And rightly so, when you’ve got a thriving concrete jungle (and no mud) at your feet for exceptional value.
All Photos by John Harvey