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Festival review: Live at Leeds 2018


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Live at Leeds couldn’t have fallen at a better time, with the Beauty from the East greeting the weekend with glorious sunshine and scorching heat... you know the line-up has got to be impressive to convince us to spend the day indoors.

In pursuit of helping the wristband exchange move as swiftly as possible to accommodate the thousands of attendees, Live at Leeds had multiple venues open for swapping tickets and it’s just as good, because it meant that people could arrive as early as possible to get into position for Idles in the capped at 200 Capacity venue, The Wardrobe.

Opening the festival were Idles, the only band who could take to the stage at 12.00 and shake the venue to it’s core, leaving the crowd with sweat soaked shirts and high expectations for the rest of the day. The band rattled through eleven tracks in what was probably the most energetic set of the day.  The set was fiery from the outset, with opening tracks ‘Heel/Heal’, ‘Faith in the City’ and ‘Mother’ warming the early goers up nicely. The band touched on more sensitive issues on ‘Samaritans’ and ‘1048 Gotho’, as the crowd were encouraged to show love to our neighbours. Next up was ‘Divide and Conquer’, a snarling classic punk track about the abominable state of the NHS under the Tories “barren-hearted” administration.

Following this, the band hurled into ‘White Privilege’, an ode to the students who do nothing at uni but drugs; the track culminating in en masse audience participation as the crowd joined the lead guitarist in screaming “Yes!” down the mic. Frontman Joe Talbot may have joked early on in the set that it was “too early for banter”, yet, before the set was out he had the May-Day audience echoing “All I want for Christmas is You/Liberation from Patriarchy”.  Enthralled by the Leeds crowd, the band renamed track ‘Exeter’ after the iconic Yorkshire City and the moment was heightened as a teenage boy made his way onto stage to take over on guitar duties. Closers ‘Vulnerable’ and ‘Well Done’ made way for an explosive finale, heralded with a chorus of “Fuck Tesco!” and a crowd surfing kid in a Sainsburys shirt. Live at Leeds is a perfect example of crowd control done the right way; making it a safe space for all and allowing the whole crowd to fully immerse themselves in Idles.

As ever, a tough act to follow, but a band like Babyteeth make just enough noise to carry on the hype. Playing at 13.15 at the Key Club, the London based punk outfit are confident in front of the packed-out venue, premiering their angsty new single and piling on the power chords in stand out single, ‘Siamese Twin’.

Over at The Dance to the Radio Stage at Leeds Beckett Uni, Phoebe Green and band play to a comfortably crowded room. There is a calming atmosphere emanating from her as she works her way through a selection of tracks from debut EP 02:00AM, ranging from the intimate and honest to the more carefree hooks of ‘Sagittarius’.

Hotly tipped Superorganism were next on over at The Independent Stage at Leeds Uni Stylus. The eight-piece arrived on stage wearing an assortment of coloured anoraks on a day where rain was nigh on unimaginable, accompanied by an impressive video light show. First track ‘It’s All Good’ carried an air of anticipation, moving into ‘Nobody Care’s where the band got loose and shed their signature raincoats. Funkier track, ‘Night Time’ was accompanied by the backing vocalists shaking fruit shaped percussion and ‘Reflections on Screen’ aptly backed by a series of quirky images on screen. Things got silly for the charismatic ‘The Prawn Song’ before closing with their biggest hit ‘Something For Your M.I.N.D’ .The group’s unique cut and paste blend of pop was certainly one of the more interesting acts of the day.

Belgrave Music Hall hosted the captivating Love SSega and band in a delirious four p.m. slot. You may recognise him from early Clean Bandit single ‘Mozart’s House’, but Love Ssega is an exciting solo artist in his own right. Mixing a range of musical genres, his set was a groove heavy affair, keeping the audience dancing from opener ‘Take What You Want’ to finish ‘Pray for Love’,

As has come to be expected from the legendary Leeds venue, Brudenell Social Club hosted an outstanding line-up throughout the day. Of particular note was Amsterdam’s Pip Blom, who graced the stage with her band and their intriguing blend of lo-fi pop, bringing the bulging working men’s club to a new high with stand out singles ‘Babies Are a Lie’ and up-tempo ‘I think I’m in Love’. The venue’s community room made its Live at Leeds debut, with DIY Neu putting on ALASKAALASKA who played a beautifully hypnotic set, showcasing their diverse genre-bending sound.

Over at the Leeds Festival Stage, The Magic Gang rocked up to the over-capacity O2 Academy, with the presence of a band on their to great things. The indie outfit cruised their way through their impressive catalogue of hit singles, including ‘All This Way’, ‘How Can I Compete’, and ‘Getting Along’ before throwing it back to 2016 with fan favourite ‘Jasmine’. The band herald Live at Leeds as their favourite festival and judging by the camaraderie and energetic nature of the standing area, it was clear festival-goers felt the same.

Supporting headliners, The Horrors, on the Dork stage at Church Leeds, Bad Sounds were up next to spread good vibes eight hours into the festival. Opening with recent single ‘Evil Powers’, there was no absence of goofy humour from the band that sound-tracked that Dominoes advert with ‘Are You High?’. Their infectious energy onstage fed right through into the audience, who mirrored the frontmen’s quirky moves right back to them.

Gracing the stage at ten to ten were one of the many headliners the festival had to offer, unmissable cult icons, The Horrors. The band’s extensive six album archive means they are not short of meritorious tracks and they open with ‘Hologram’ from their latest album V, emerging behind a heavy cloud of fog, enticing and transfixing against the stained-glass backdrop. The set truly came into place with ‘Sea Within a Sea’, as the crowd lose themselves within eight whole minutes of euphoric synth-pop. From here, the band crusade through a parade of hits including ‘Press Enter to Exit’, ‘Still Life’ and ‘Endless Blue’ before the beautifully apt closer ‘Something to Remember Me By’.

As is standard for Live at Leeds, the only thing the festival could improve on is extending the length of festivities, so you can cram even more great music in. Regardless, we still managed to catch ten incredible artists, a bus out to Brudenell and stopped off for some amazing pizza, so it wasn’t half bad.

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