I was working during the day at Leeds fest so only saw the headliner bands. Frankly, I’m glad I didn’t pay for this festival, and I wouldn’t ever again to be perfectly honest (unless there was a line-up that was unbelievably persuasive). This is because, priced at nearly £200, you don’t get half as much for your money as you would at, say Glastonbury which has so much more to offer than just the music. In addition, it seems Leeds attracts a very young crowd, 15, 16-year-olds intent on getting so drunk they can’t walk or see, who end up losing their friends, getting into a mess and leaving early as they can’t deal with the camping and the weather. I may be cynical and slightly biased as I saw the worst of what can happen, having worked more ‘behind the scenes’ and constantly listening to security radios, but still, it seemed as if the atmosphere was lacking. To put it simply, there were a lot of glum faces.
Another reason I would work instead of pay to attend (besides for the money and the freebie headliner-viewing) was because of the proximity of the staff camping to the arena – see photograph of my boyfriend happily showing off our prime location. We were literally behind the Lock-up stage so it took less than two minutes to get into the arena. No trudging a mile or so through thick mud, and more importantly no checking of bags or pockets. Which means free drinks as you can take in all the cans you like, and not having to worry about spending an hour’s wage on one drink which you will inevitably spill.
So, now my rant is over about Leeds festival’s cons, let’s talk about the main attraction – the bands. On Friday night we saw Muse and Pete Doherty. Or only a bit of Muse should I say as at that point it was pouring with torrential rain and just wasn’t much fun. To give them credit they still had a huge crowd and sounded pretty good despite the dampness of atmosphere. So whilst sheltering from the downpour we saw some Doherty. He was incredible; alone on stage, just man and guitar it was brilliant. Although he was joined by a couple of ballet dancers during a few songs. Didn’t quite get that.
Playing songs from his solo album and music from bands, The Libertines and Babyshambles, it didn’t take long to win over the crowded tent. He also proved that he’s the main reason both bands are so great and in fact he doesn’t really need them behind him to get the crowds going. You could barely move for the onslaught of indie kids’ bony arms and elbows flailing everywhere during hits ‘What A Waster’, ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’ and ‘Fuck Forever’. He also sang a well received cover of ‘Tears Dry on Their Own’ by Amy Winehouse as a tribute to the late singer who was also a friend of his.
On Saturday night we saw White Lies and Beady Eye. White Lies were same old same old. Which isn’t a bad thing, they’re great at what they do; dark, emotional atmospheric sounds that get everyone involved. Exactly the same as when I saw them in the exact same tent a couple of years ago (despite the new album). Consistent goodness I’d say.
Beady Eye were the real treat. I wasn’t expecting much, just a lot of Gallagher hype, swagger and arrogance. And although he had the swagger he, amazingly, wasn’t irritatingly arrogant and actually just got on with it. And it was good. Similar to Oasis but with a bit more edge; more of a ’60s rock and roll style. They did a fantastic set considering they’ve only been together since March this year. Particularly loved ‘The Roller’ and ‘Millionaire’ which seemed to get the crowd singing. Definitely more to come from this lot.
And last, but definitely not least, The Strokes and Pulp on Sunday. With the knowledge of having the next day off and not having to get up at 6am, I throughly enjoyed the Sunday night of Leeds. Strokes did the same set as they did at Benicassim festival (see previous post) and whilst they were good, it was nowhere near FIB standard. Again, I think this is because of the whole Leeds atmosphere this year, or rather the lack of one. However, Pulp were a different story, and they managed to get over the problem purely because of one man. Jarvis Cocker; what a beautiful weirdo. Galavanting all over the stage, lying across speakers, dancing, contorting his body in strange ways and poetically and humorously introducing each song with a short story of it’s conception, he was utterly brilliant. What a frontman! Definite highlight of the weekend and completely made up for the soggy 12 hour shifts, lack of sleep and general dishevelled-ness that was Leeds fest this year. Thank you Jarvis.