Monday, 31 August 2009

Live - Leeds Festival

I nearly always scan a few web boards post any festival, it's really the only way to find out if you had a good time. Having done this for a few years I can give a very accurate review of Leeds Festival without actually attending.

It's full of pissed up kids, pissing in bottles in the pissing rain and I'm not pissing going again.....oh and I got pissed and it was great this one last time! (always need an exclamation mark). There you go, I've saved you hours of trawling the internet.

For me and a number of pals, Leeds is now a 3 day bus journey / meet up party interspersed with musical interludes. This year was no exception with the cider filled reunion starting at 11.30 am Friday at the bus stop and real life stuff not interfering, I'm pretty confident we'll be within 10 minutes next year. And without further ramblings a few highlights and a lowlight, I'm limiting myself to one lowlight or I'll get tagged as the miserable git.

Despite the usual M62 Friday traffic nightmare we arrived in supermassive 'you could get wembley stadium in there' NME/BBC twin sponsored tent just in time to see the Delphic set.


Delphic have been extensively hyped as the next big thing and with an inoffensive line in 80's style danceable guitar music us old blokes had a jolly good foot tapping 30 minutes. I think there is video evidence of synchronised leg twiddling and the compulsory offbeat head nodding from the three old gits on the barrier. This may not be the most incisive review either but, 'I quite like them'. There is non of the in your face screech guitar dance about them and its not quite the metronomic beat of Hot Chip or Hockey. New Order meets Joy Division is a bit obvious, but it really is like that. The good news is that they've actually written some decent tunes with melodies to back up the dance beats and it's probably this element that's helping them stand out from the ever increasing keyboard bleep bleep twiddly dance crowd.

Along with everyone else, they also have an album out in September

British Intelligence

British Intelligence were playing the 'Introducing' Stage which is situated close to the side of the main thoroughfare to catch the ear of unwary passers by. Unwarried we were and 30 minutes later I thought they'd played an absolute blinder. The music is heavier then my normal jangly taste, it's based on a Rage style rhythm and screechy lead guitar, but then with added Run DMC style rap over the top. Before you write it off at this point they did have a couple of things going for them;

Firstly the songs were really good and had a political UK edge rather than a west coast US rap and style.

Secondly it was really good fun, the band were having a ball and it had a feel of The Clash about it, which is always a good thing. That's another album to buy in September

Marina and the Diamonds

Next it was off to see Marina and the Diamonds in another small tent, I'd seen them at The Big Chill and came away a bit non plussed as the set had extreme highs and lows. Never one to write someone off too early I thought I'd give them a second chance.....oh did i mention Marina isn't exactly difficult to watch for half an hour. I'm no fashion guru but the distinct change in clothing style from The Big Chill to Leeds didn't bypass me. The Big Chill outfit included a pair of hot pants which have probably secured their place on the locals against the Chill committee meetings agenda for a whole year, such will have been the outrage-on-wye.

Possibly warned about the density of testosterone driven teenage boys at Leeds ready to throw piss at anyone who piqued their interest, Marina opted for an acceptable in Riyadh combo. Marina has a defiantly non welsh accent to her singing which tends fairly close to a Hazel O' Conner lilt at times (obviously a good thing) and in parts a bit Siouxsie Sioux. Strangely the closer to her own voice she gets the better she sounds, the less she makes moves from The Eighth Day the better she looks. It's fairly early days and the group have 2 or 3 good tunes (worked for MGMT) but they'll need to decide Indie Dance or Pop Dance. Everything is going to be a variation of dance in 12 months time but that's a different theory.

The Virgins

The Virgins played in 'the big tent' early on Sunday morning which was a perfect opportunity to sit around and listen to non aggressive pleasant tunes whilst reading the paper. Or drink way too much wine way to early. The band made the effort to travel over from New York so I went for plan B and discarded the paper. I enjoyed their funky take on Indie, OK it was a bit like Vampire Weekend had bought a Chic album instead of 'that' Paul Simon album, but again they had a few really good songs which makes all the difference. Look out for them on a kids TV programme near you soon.

The Airborne Toxic Event

Airborne Toxic Event were next up in the same tent and as everyone was pretty relaxed it seemed churlish not to enjoy the music, the company and a touch more wine....don't mind if I do.

I'd already worried everyone with tales of shoutiness and feedback as that's what I recalled from playing the album. I'm going to have to give it another listen. If you think, the best bits of Arcade Fire with a female electric violinist doing a modern version of the good bits of Talking Heads then you'd be miles away from the truth. It's definitely worth going to see them though as they manage to make a unique, but strangely familier sound which got a great reaction from the unexpectant audience.

The Big Pink

Later in the day and encouraged by the first sustained rain of the festival I made it over to see The Big Pink in the small red tent. The final song excepted, which had some flying guitar tunage going on, the rest of the set was fairly mundane and a bit of a dirge. I think this may be NME over hype about to strike without any depth to the bands songwriting catalogue. Don't get me wrong the lead guitarist is a bit nippy and makes a top sound but they could do with a 'Daddy's Gone' to help them along.

Bombay Bicycle Club

Bombay Bicycle Club followed them onstage and as it was still raining I decided the alcohol break was a great idea and plonked myself down at the back to watch. BBC were much better than I was expecting and the happy faced enthusiasm was a welcome relief from the earnest and irritated shoegazy Pink people. I wasn't totally convinced that I'd enjoy listening to a whole album but for half an hour bouncy happiness at a festival they get my vote.

Whilst writing this I've decided not to go for the huge slagging off option, so a quick summary section just to help you avoid a festival error

The Hot Rats - (Supergrass doing crap covers) unprepared with backing tapes which you weren't supposed to notice. I'm almost certain Gaz was miming at one point. The closest thing to a car crash all weekend

Arctic Monkeys - Enjoy the new direction chaps you may find it cold in the desert at night.


DeadMau5 - It was a bit like 'the best ever 6th form rave' in the Dance Tent and me and the other old bloke were glad of eachothers company but hell this rave stuff is good for the soul. I just know my dad dancing is going to be a Youtube favourite soon.

And finally a very honourable mention indeed to The Gaslight Anthem who played a fantastic Busted tribute in the big tent. Strange how the set consisted of virtually all of the last album and went down a storm with the Indie Leeds crowd. Get tickets for the next tour because the one after that is going to be in the big MEN style sheds.


  1. test to make sure its ok for Craig

  2. Look, this is all very educational, particularly the advice about Hot Rats who I nearly went to see recently but now wouldnt bother, but we need to cut to the chase.

    Where are the alcohol fueled escapades? The broken limbs? The vomiting on the bus home? The imbibing of tequilla through the eyeballs?

    Was there not even any mint cake abuse this year? And we need more pictures of that high jump girl.

    Apart from that it was an interesting read again.

  3. But Craig, you weren't there. Half of those things weren't going to happen without you.

    Mind you, I did get really annoyed by a yellow Teletubby and seriously felt like hitting the arsehole. It annoyed me all night that I didn't.

    Didn't see the high jump girl. Was she there?

  4. She'd be a really rubbish person to stand behind

  5. Andy you were there, what did you think of The Hot were a bit lost for words at the time

  6. Hot Rats? I liked the bass player.