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Live Review: Live at Leeds 2017


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Now in its eleventh year, Live At Leeds is one of the north's most recognisable inner-city festivals.

With acts such as Rag'n'Bone Man, Slaves and White Lies playing across 22 stages dotted throughout various venues in Leeds all day, creating a schedule with no heart-wrenching clashes was an arduous pain - but resulted in a day packed with great music. 

We began on a high with one of my current favourites, KYKO, drenching the early afternoon in sun-kissed trop-pop. Situated in Belgrave's upstairs venue, the room felt packed wall-to-wall with new and older fans bopping their heads along to the beat.

The generally younger crowd sang along to well known tunes such as 'Animals' and 'Native as KYKO and his band grinned ear to ear throughout their set.'. With music you can't help but dance to, this set the perfect, optimistic start to the day.

Heading back through town to Leeds Beckett University, Bridlington-born duo Seafret put on an unreal performance.

It's clear to see that lead singer Jack Sedman puts his entire soul into every lyric, his heart pouring out his mouth and bursting through his chest as he sang passionately.

Accompanied by a single guitar played by his ingenious multi-instrumentalist band mate Harry Draper, the set was raw, stripped back, yet the crowd were hanging onto every word. Making cheeky jokes between songs to keep spirits high, there was an even balance of act-to-crowd rapport and the ability to get completely lost within a song. It was everything you feel acoustic music should be.

A couple of jagerbombs and double gins down (I mean, day drinking is the secondary purpose of one-day music festivals right?), we caught the end of Marsicans set at Leeds University Stylus.

Described as "upbeat indie meets dirty pop" the band threw themselves around the stage with such force, passion and excitement I'm surprised nobody fell off á la Dave Grohl.

Marsicans were a new find but their music reminds me ever so slightly of the pop-punk I listened to in my early teens and provided a welcome dose of nostalgia. Song 'Friends' is a highly recommended new favourite.

Upstairs Brighton quintet Fickle Friends played a busy Refectory, showcasing new songs from their upcoming album and pleasing the crowd with older, well-known indie-pop tunes such as 'Swim'.

With fans up on shoulders and drinks soaring past heads (my mate was temporarily blinded by some flying vodka) their set had the whole room dancing along in high spirits.

Next was a brisk walk to Trinity Church to see Lewis Watson.

It was the perfect venue for Lewis, who played a solo set accompanied by just his guitar rather than his band. After his second album dropped in March, he played a selection of new songs like 'Deep the Water' and treated long-time fans with EP-essential 'Sink or Swim'. A line of fans sat on the church floor along the front of the stage staring up at the musician like a deity and singing along to every single word - including providing backing harmonies. 

The day ended with acoustic pop jewel Gabrielle Aplin, who also filled the ethereal venue with only her angelic voice and guitar.

Moving over to the piano to play 'Salvation', which I personally feel is the essential song to demonstrate her vocal, lyrical and musical abilities - she showed off her multi-instrumentalism and seemingly never-ending amount of talent.

It would be easy for her voice and the emotion she pours into her art to move any grown person to tears, and it was a perfect, relaxed ending to a jam-packed day. 

Live at Leeds returns next year on Saturday 28th April.

Photography by Anna Wiggan.

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