Live At Leeds 2014....
The First Direct Arena in Leeds is pretty damn spectacular. A modern, curvy, swooping structure built for rocking, acoustically superb and capable of holding thousands of screaming fans, the jewel in Leeds' musical crown.
Naturally, no bugger was playing there.
They were probably busy preparing for Miley Cyrus the week after, shipping in an assortment of hammers for her to lick and suchlike...
Spread over a dozen or so venues, Live At Leeds is an annual celebration of up-and-coming music, sprinkled with a few headliners to create bothersome queues and with enough quirky attitude to cause a minor explosion. The sun is warm, wristbands are on, I'm wearing my bleachandcologne t shirt for promotional purposes and we're off to the Faversham for our first band.
From the ashes of Redwire rose the phoenix of FANS.
Debut single All This Time is going down a storm and it's easy to see why. There are no gimmicks, no twattish strutting round the stage, just three lads knocking out belting tune after belting tune. Considering the early start (12.30) there's a decent crowd here making a lot of noise. With a sound somewhere between The Strokes and The Vaccines (a comparison which really doesn't do them justice), plus some filthy dirty basslines and anthemic choruses, they've gone down a storm, best summed up by Kate's friend: 'brilliant, weren't they? They're going to be MASSIVE'.
Definitely one to see again, 20 minutes was way too short for a band of this calibre. I'll be keeping an eye out for further gigs. Taxi time now to t'other side of Leeds where it's all going acoustic...
We Were Frontiers
I admit to having a real soft spot for WWF with their Western-tinged sound and tub-thumping choruses, hence the mad dash over from the Faversham (and navigation of the baffling lift system in Leeds College Of Music). Well worth it it was too. New song Shadows showed a mellower side which I loved, as did the crowd. Favourites such as The Hunt and Night Terrors drew whoops of admiration, the harmonies were spot on and they were as acoustically brilliant as always. Still desperate to hear them with their full musical set-up, they're looking for a drummer - so if you know of anyone please shout!
After the show I managed to grab a couple of minutes with Jim for a quick catch up - and a special mention is made here for one of the most impressive falsettos I've heard from anyone past the age of puberty. So impressed was I that, instead of the usual interviews that ask normal things about musical influences, future plans etc., mine goes something like this;
'So how do you get your voice so high? Is it natural, or some kind of budgie smugglers/knacker squeezing combination?'
Thankfully he just cracked out laughing instead of muttering something about how the NME wouldn't ask such dross and assured me it was natural and not a tweezers in the pocket job.
Paxman-esque questioning over, set list obtained, we're off to the Cockpit.
Well. That was a bugger.
Due to the inconsiderate [expletive deleted] shoppers of Leeds, a mega tight schedule, my claustrophobia and disabled access for Kate so complex it resembled The Krypton Factor with added wheelie bins, I saw exactly two and a half minutes of Carnabells (it was one of my favourite songs though, Magazine Dream, from 'Next stop is Methley' to the end). Cue one incredibly pissed off Em. The Cockpit was heaving and the lads went down a storm as I knew they would. Luckily for me, they're playing up in Middlesbrough next month so I can see them then.
Since this review doesn't do them much justice - in fact it does bugger all really, but I wanted a whinge - check out last year's review here to get a proper idea of what they have to offer. They were the first band I reviewed on this site and I think they're pretty special. I also reckon Alex Turner has nicked their style...
I'll come back to these guys after their June concert with a decent write-up on here, till then check this out;
After a food and footy break we reviewed our options and decided to join the throng for Royal Blood at Leeds Met. Holy shit, was it packed - people crowded on the gantry at the back, folk squishing into every available square millimetre of floor space, an almightily sweaty and not entirely pleasant experience. I remember muttering 'they'd better be f***ing worth it' to the bloke in front of me (hello bloke that was in front of me, by the way. I never did get your name. Cheers for the water).
Things did not start well with quite a prolonged soundcheck and various techy snags. The crowd were getting pretty restless and I had a sinking feeling that they may not live up to the hype. Thankfully I was proved very, VERY wrong...
From the first rip-roaring power chord, Royal Blood had the whole place under their spell. It's hard to describe the sheer volume of noise that two people can produce, or the level of hysteria that they can generate. A circular moshpit materialised in the middle of the room, its epicentre a man with a huge afro, pogo-ing like mad. There were crowd surfers, headbangers, a dude stripping off and a chorus of 'Yorkshire, Yorkshire' when singer Mike dropped the clanger of 'hello Liverpool!'. Poor lad. (He apologised. We forgave him. Us Yorkshire folk are nice like that). Best of all, one of my favourite songs of recent times, arguably their most famous one to date, Little Monster. It's a QOTSA-type stormer and I love it in all its riffy, bassy, pounding glory.
Hailed as one of THE bands to watch this year - which to be honest I often dismiss as bollocks - it's clear to see why these lads are hitting the headlines. Hard rocking and crowd pleasing, they leave us all in that kind of 'wow. I just saw something amazing' mood as we wander out into the sunshine a little staggered and lost for words. I Tweeted this shortly after (they favourited it. Booyah), which sums it up as best as can be in only 140 characters;
'Believe the hype. @RoyalBlookUK just tore the place a new one. They may not know what city they're in but fuck me they know how to rock'
Lanterns On The Lake
At this point, we are knackered. Absolutely drop-down banjaxed. Thankfully there's a floor to slump on at the very grand Town Hall while we watch Lanterns On The Lake.
This place is beautiful. Soaring ceilings, ornate plasterwork, atmosphere dripping from every cornice, further enhanced by the pretty laser light show coming from the stage. Epic and ethereal, the band match their setting perfectly. Eerie, haunting melodies soothe us after the aural onslaught of Royal Blood. It's such a different sound, folk tinged and lilting, but with sweeping production that could fill an arena (like the one we started at. That would have been ace. What a waste).
Kate and I are in agreement, we didn't know if we would like it - but we do.
Also agreed...it's home time. What a great end to what has been an outstanding day.
Leeds did us proud this year, with an incredible lineup of bands. There were so many I wanted to see - Darlia, Drenge, Palma Violets, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Munich, Apollo Junction, the list goes on - and loads I have noted down to watch out for and catch live.
Highlight of the day; watching the crowd go batshit crazy to Royal Blood
Downer of the day; blisters. Leeds is VERY spread out
With thanks to Kate for the company, Matt for joining us for lunch and all the helpful venue staff and organisers