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Review: Leeds Festival

Leeds Festival,
24th-26th August, Bramham Park.

The waiting was over, and things couldn’t have been better. The sun was making a rare appearance, bags are packed, tickets in hand and excitement growing as thousands of fans from all over the country headed to what would be their new home for the next 5 days.
On arrival, the atmosphere was electric, what a fantastic Bank Holiday weekend there was to look forward too. Friendly smiles, laughter and banter were everywhere. It was a long journey from the car park to the camp site, but with the adrenaline and anticipation building for the weekend of great music, the heavy load of belongings on backs (many thanks to the ‘tinnies’) seemed a small price to pay.

Leeds Festival often gets over-shadowed by its counterpart Reading, and has a reputation for a weakened line up. But in my eyes, Festival Republic put on a fantastic weekend, and here is why…

The much anticipated line up on the Main Stage included headliners in the form of Foo Fighters, The Cure and Kasabian, and with the NME/Radio 1 stage boasting acts such as Two Door Cinema Club, Justice and Foster The People, there was plenty for fans to rave about.

With 3 Grammys and nearly a million copies sold of their album Brothers, The Black Keys came on to the Main Stage and, unsurprisingly, were greeted by a huge uproar, and Dan Auerbach wasted no time by getting into the first song of the set. With bands like Kasabian or Foo Fighters who have been around for a while, you almost know what to expect, but The Black Keys provided something a little different. When ‘Next Girl’ kickstarted the gig, the crowd really got going. Their fresh take on blues-rock enticed everyone at the main stage, playing songs they debuted in 2003 such as ‘Thickfreakness’, to their new singles ‘Dead and Gone’ and ‘Little Black Submarine’. They were better live than they are in studio, mainly due to Auerbach’s stunning guitar solos, Patrick Carney’s energetic performance on the drums and a rich bass that kept everything grounded and level. You know when a band are just as good if not better live as they are on the album that you are on to a winner. Well worth checking out.

I had high expectations for Bombay Bicycle Club when I saw they were performing the Main Stage this year, and what a fantastic addition they proved to be, being just as entertaining as the like of The Foo. Jack Steadman, the lead singer, is such a likeable character and one that, even if you’ve never heard the band before, you immediately approve of.  His almost nerdish features just add to the likeability. A song that really stood out for me was ‘Evening/Morning’. The stripped back bass solo literally takes your breath away, with its gritty, harsh sound, the ground shakes and the crowd watched in awe until the band kicks in. Bombay have a huge variety of songs, next thing you know you’re listening to ‘Ivy and Gold’, an almost folky knees-up. I particularly liked the female backing vocalist Lucy Rose, she adds something different to the London quartet with her energy and enthusiasm. Perhaps having a point to prove as being a lesser known band on the main stage, BBC put on a really good show. Tipped by many Radio 1 DJs to be a big hit in the future, I would certainly agree.

Personally, I found that The Maccabees stole the show. With ingenious lead riffs, punchy basslines and Orlando Weeks’ unique, powerful, quirky voice, the South London 5-piece mesmerized the crowd. Weeks’ almost shy domineer really gives you the feeling that he means every word he sings, he really got the crowd going. But behind this bashful personality, Weeks gave one of the most entertaining, roaring performances around. The way he moves around the stage, you can’t help but be reminded of Ian Curtis with his electric stage presence. The set ranged from mellow songs from their new album ‘Given To The Wild’ to tunes that really got everyone jumping! To finish off one of the most enjoyable live performances at the festival, The Maccabees played ‘X-Ray’, possibly the best song of the set, and with its high tempo, it topped of a superb performance. They went on to play an encore, which included their new single Feel To Follow. This band is defiantly one to look out for in the future. Compared to bands in the same indie genre, The Maccabees have really stepped up on their new album. They have gone from being 5 charming South London musicians singing about ‘Lego’, ‘Toothpaste Kisses’ and ‘First Love’, to something much more complicated. Much deeper, and through this have developed as a band and dare I say set the bar for rival bands.

Watch highlights of their gig at Reading Festival, you’ll soon understand how exciting the Maccabees are.

By the end of the weekend, the sleeping rough, endless cold and an empty stomach had all been worth it, being soaked through 24/7, a diet consisting of nothing but burgers and chips, and not being able to afford firewood, its what you should expect, and its what Leeds Festival is all about.

Bring on Leeds 2013!

Front page photo, The Libertines at Leeds Festival 2010, taken by samsaundersleeds, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

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