Leeds Festival - photo by Ian Taylor
I got there on Friday afternoon and sadly had already missed a fair few great acts. Everything started earlier than expected (midday?!?) so I didn’t get chance to witness Pulled Apart By Horses, Band of Skulls and the ever-amusing Eagles of Death Metal. Goddamnit!
However, I did catch a bit of the homecoming set by Kaiser Chiefs, who repped their hometown through and through (even their name comes from them being Leeds United fans in 1996 when club captain Lucas Radebe was signed from the South African football club with the same name). They blitzed through classics like I Predict A Riot and The Angry Mob as well as showcasing newer material from their album The Future Is Medieval.
Next up on the main stage were The Black Keys, who brought their bass-heavy lullabies to an adoring crowd. Renditions of Howlin’ For You and Tighten Up went down particularly well. Girls were screaming and many of the guys were too.
Foo Fighters - photo by Giles Smith
The Foo Fighters are in many ways the ultimate festival headliner. Whilst some people might besmirch their music as Nirvana-lite, they just seem to love music and love life. Fronted by the ever smiley Dave Grohl, they played for well over two hours and showcased the depth of their material with classics ranging from Monkey Wrench to Best of You (they’ve now recorded almost twice as many studio albums as his previous band ever did).
At one point Foo’s drummer Taylor Hawkins announced to the crowd that Grohl is one of the best living musicians the world has to offer. And frankly on this performance it’s hard to disagree. The Everlong encore was the high point of the festival for me.
We nipped out of the Foos half-way through to catch a bit of Justice on the NME Stage and they were amazing too. Fronted by the illuminated cross and banging out classic after field-thumping classic, I was glad to catch a bit of their set and would have stayed for the whole thing had it not been for the attraction of Grohl and co back on the main stage.
Friends birthday girl Lesley Hann - photo by Ian Taylor
The day got off to a good start watching the Hadouken on the NME Stage. They were really good fun in a bleepy-rocky-crossover kind of way and frontman James Smith was on top form.
Following them were New York-based 6music favourites Friends, who may well be the total antithesis of the TV sitcom from the same city – in that they’re quite likeable in an alternative non-saccharine way. It was bass player Lesley Hann’s birthday and lead singer Samantha Urbani presented her with two hats as a present halfway through the set. Thankfully they saved any renditions of ‘Happy Birthday’ until after they had finished.
Next up we went to see Random Hand in the Lock-Up stage, playing a lively set and goading the crowd to form a circle pit throughout. Their efforts were not wasted as many at the front of the crowd seemed to be really going for it. I, however, was sat at the back in a camping chair watching on like the thirty-something chap I am. Then a bloke came up and asked us if we had any heroin – thankfully we soon worked out that he was joking.
A few hours passed as we went back to our tents to feed ourselves and down cans of Brothers cider (one complaint about this festival is that you can’t take any drinks, not even a bottle of water, into the main arena – beer sponsorship gone mad!). Then we dashed back in to watch the first Notts act of the weekend – good old Petebox. Except this time he was rolling with Lee Nelson (as in the guy in the cap who does the ‘Well Good’ TV Show).
We spent the first 20minutes bored and a bit annoyed by the derivative mainstream comedy Nelson offered up. Then we were vaguely amused by the ten minutes or so where he got members of the audience crowdsurfing in dingys. Eventually he brought on Petebox for the finale and we were treated to two songs from the Notts beatboxing legend – covers of both MGMT’s Kids and Where is My Mind by The Pixies. Hopefully the exposure Petebox gets out of touring with Nelson will counteract the acute annoyance he must feel every night as he suffers watching another set of ‘youth’ comedy by a man who ought to be old enough to know better.
Headliners on the main stage on Saturday were The Cure. They’re an amazing band who we’ve always felt a lot of love for and it was great to finally watch them play classics like Boys Don’t Cry and Just Like Heaven. But I have to admit that while watching them it did feel like something was slightly missing and it was all a bit pedestrian compared to what we had seen before. And time hasn’t been kind to Robert Smith in a physical sense – where once he looked like a Brit version of Edward Scissorhands – he now looks like a mid-nineties Jo Brand. Still, it was lovely to see them live though.
Jake Bugg - photo by Anneka James
Someone dared me to down the end of a bottle of Absinthe on the Saturday night and foolishly I did it. Everything went a bit messy after that. By the time I finally rose on Sunday I realised that i’d done the classic festival thing of losing my phone, coat and wallet the night before. And by the sounds of it I’d also acted like a complete arsehole to a nice person I’d met the night before (my most sincere public apologies Panda Sloth!).
So for both reasons of having lost all my money and protecting my liver, today was going to have to be more restrained. After a quick tour of the lost property (to no avail – but the staff there were lovely) I dashed to the Festival Republic stage for a Notts double-bill of Jake Bugg and Dog Is Dead.
You can already tell that Clifton lad Jake Bugg is going to make it big! The fact that he had a full page interview alongside Noel Gallagher in the NME in the build-up to this gig must have helped. And thus the tent was completely rammed for his performance. The description of him being halfway between The Arctic Monkeys and Bob Dylan is really not a bad comparison and tracks like Taste It and Lightning Bolt already seem to be becoming singalong classics to the tent-packing crowd. He’s obviously shy, but you can tell the crowd are loving him and many see him as the next big thing – and with support slots to Noel Gallagher and The Stone Roses already in his locker it’s hard to argue with that.
The Vaccines - photo by Giles Smith
Dog Is Dead followed straight after and although the crowd dissipates a little, they still put in a really strong performance. Glockenspiel Song goes down particularly well with the crowd and by the time they pump out dozens of DID-branded beach balls at the end, an extra thousand or two people clearly know who they are. Their debut LP comes out in October - let's hope it gets a Top 10 place in the album charts.
After this it’s almost time to go. Kasabian and At The Drive In were playing later, but the sensible choice of leaving early on Sunday evening and avoiding traffic/ further mishaps with Absinthe is the one we were going to take. But not before we catch a bit of The Vaccines on the main stage (surely it’s always been known as ‘Rebound Sex’ rather than Post-Break-Up Sex?) and say goodbye to some friends we made - all seemingly called Bob?!?
This is the sixth year running that I’ve been to Leeds Festival and it was the strongest representation of Notts-based acts yet. With Jake Bugg, Dog Is Dead and Petebox breaking the seal – hopefully next year we’ll see even more represented. Maybe even Jake Bugg in a slot on the main stage? I wouldn’t put it past him…