Y Not Festival adds indie rock legends Johnny Marr and Ocean Colour Scene to 10th birthday line-up

Y Not has added some indie, rock and pop legends in the form of ex-Smiths man Johnny Marr and Ocean Colour Scene, as the Derbyshire-based festival celebrates its 10th year in style.

Following last month's announcement, which included Snoop Dogg, Primal Scream and Basement Jaxx as the festival's three headliners, the festival has thrown in yet more iconic talent to the mixture for the weekend of July 31st-August 2nd.

Marr comes to the festival fresh from receiving an NME award for 'Godlike Genius', and while he made his name with 'The Smiths' and to younger audiences as guitarist with 'The Cribs', his solo catalogue is bursting full of punchy tunes. Ocean Colour Scene themselves have been celebrating their 25th anniversairy, and will finish their summer at the festival. 

Other additions to the line-up come in the form of  Florida's ska-punk faves Less Than Jake, and another American act, indie trio We Are Scientists. Y Not favourites, Reverend & the Makers return after a few years away, while hard rock bands like Don Broco, Augustines and Young Guns add another element to the line-up. 

Nottingham's very own Indiana adds a tinge of electro-pop, with The Lancashire Hotpots bringing comedy folk to the stage. Japanese psychedelic act Bo Ningen, alt-R&B and 'Game of Thrones' actor Raleigh Ritchie, with Hacktivist adding their own brand of rap and metal to proceedings.

Mancunian grunge band Nine Black Alps and Sheffield stars Rolo Tomassi keep things alive and kicking, while The Bohicas, rockers LTNT and Solemn Sun add more rock to the line-up. Blues singer Kim Churchill and the soulful Jake Isaacs add a softer touch to proceeders, while Zoax round off the latest line-up announcement with their brand of hardcore metal.

Y Not Festival 2015 also has acoustic stars Saint Raymond and Nick Mulvey, rockers We Are the Ocean and Pulled Apart By Horses. BBC Sound of 2015 shortlisters, Slaves are also on the bill, as are Rae Morris, Honeyblood, Gengahr, Allusondrugs and KIng Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys among other acts. Tickets are priced from £89.50 and can be found at Ynotfestivals.co.uk.

Leeds Festival 2014 Weekend Review

Leeds Fest 2014 began with an extra-early bang, with the introduction of bands and comedians on the Thursday night.

I myself plumped for the madcap comedic stylings of Adam Buxton, the bearded half of 90's comedy duo Adam & Joe, as a result of the tirade of rain which unleashed itself on the site on Thursday evening. Whilst the comedy tent itself offered shelter from the elements, Buxton's wacky style of humour failed to warm many of the on-lookers, although his unique blend of using his laptop to show us all strange goings-on from the internet, to his own home videos was a great idea for a comedy show- I can imagine if it wasn't the precursor to a weekend of music and camping, it would be pretty enjoyable. 

As it was, once the rain had cleared, it was over to the Relentless Stage, situated in a tree-lined strip inbetween the thriving campsites of Red and Orange, following the closure of the stage during 2013's torrential weather. DJ's like Zane Lowe, DJ Fresh and Klaxons were due for the three days, but we had fun nonetheless as the riotous atmosphere was a great set-up for the upcoming weekend.

With a few bleary eyes and banging heads (althoughI like to blame that on camping just a tad too close to the campsite DJ!), Friday was kicked off for me with a slice of the ultra-cool Jungle. A mysterious act made up of an array of vocalists, guitarists, keyboardists and drummers, many of whom do some serious multi-tasking, the West London band were pretty excellent. Sure extensive falsetto vocals can wane on even the most hardened of fans after a while, but when the beats were as fresh and bouncy as they were in the NME/Radio tent, you don’t mind. After an excellent LP and summer festival shows, they have proven there worth, even getting a pre-Clean Bandit crowd to loosen up and lose themselves in the sultry grooves.

Band of the moment, Clean Bandit were next up, and showed surprisingly that there is more to them than mega-hit ‘Rather Be’. No, their live show was assured, confident and FUN! Their unique twist on the genre is intriguing, throwing in classical music influences alongside the bass beats we’re more accustomed too, aswell as the familiarity of guest vocalists peppering the majority of tracks. They weren’t mind-bending, but packed out the tent and offered heaps of fun and innocent pop music for those who wanted it.

The Kooks are another band that bring back memories of adolescence for those of a certain age, and their new wave of sound, with increased R&B influences did certainly not disappoint. Infact, whilst they didn’t match solid favourites ‘Na├»ve’ and ‘Seaside’ for the sing-a-long aspect, it’s arguable that new singles ‘Down’ and ‘About Town’ were the best performances of their set. The new album releases this week, and it’ll be very interesting to see whether it can revive what many thought to be another band lost to the ages. Based on this performance, the Kooks could stay with us for while.

To many Macklemore & Ryan Lewis seem wildly out of place on a Reading & Leeds bill, their chart-friendly beats and raps surely not acceptable at such a venue? Such things are simply not true though, as Macklemore proved with a friendly, yet humoured stage presence and half a set of gold. That is the one issue I had with this set, it was far too long for the one album rapper, who actually, rather embarrassingly, played the same song twice. But that aside, his song introductions may have been to mask the extended set length, but he made it work- just.

Man-children, Blink-182 made it three times they had headlined both Reading and Leeds sites, the first for four years and ahead of a new album rumoured to be released to the world by the turn of 2014.

Kicking off with ‘Feeling This’, the US rockers breezed through their set, peppering song breaks with some genuinely crude, hilarious humour and entertaining the masses excellently with their extensive back catalogue.The crowd of course reacted magnificently to all-time hit ‘All The Small Things’, but then this was Friday night of Leeds 2014, it was heaving and pits were breaking out all over the inside barrier.

The trio of songs that made up the encore summed up the evening for the Americans; ‘Violence’ a breath-taking tune that allows every band member to step up to the plate, ‘Dammit’ a veritable classic that the first strokes of the guitar riff sent everyone into a fit of excitement, and ‘Family Reunion’, a 40 second tune that manages to pack in all of the band’s trademark crude humour in an expletive-ridden blast.

One way to blast out any morning cobwebs are Derbyshire duo, Drenge. The much-hyped two are loud and fast, known for thrashing away at their instruments and barely stopping to acknowledge their audience. This mid-afternoon slot was not dissimilar to the expectations, they were impressive if straightforward, more new tunes alongside those from their self-titled LP would’ve been nice, but after a year of touring, I’d expect them to hit the studio and get more content to take their live show truly to the next level.

Firm R&L festival favourites, Enter Shikari appeared for their sixth straight festival (in more than one guise!), with circle hits in abundance as frontman Rou Reynolds took time to sprint across the Main Stage, kick out at amps and generally cause a bit of a racket- but a good racket nonetheless! Shikari have grown at this festival, as has their sound, but they know how to work their crowd and how to entertain the masses, even if they’ve never truly broken out into the mainstream, but you know what…I think they prefer things that way!

Vampire Weekend were a band I had been waiting to see ever since their inception as an act, a trio of album in and the NYC collective were incredible. They hit every right note, from Exra Koening having the nerve to play the set in a full grey tracksuit, to the imperious moods they created, from the heart-melding ‘Walcott’ the riotous ‘A-Punk’, to an exclusive track never played live before, ‘California English’, they were exceptional. The start of the set saw one of the day’s torrential downpours, but by its crescendo, the sun was beating down on a magnificent performance.

Josh Homme and Queens of the Stone Age were up first, having closed the previous night at Reading. The band put on a simply brilliant rock show, with thrills in the shape of some impressive laser-shows and some mind-melting guitar-driven beasts of songs. The energy from the band was subtle, growing and growing with each tune. ‘No One Knows’ as song number two was a daring choice, but paid off handsomely as newbies ‘My God Is The Sun’ and ‘Smooth Sailing’ more than benefitted from the buzz generated. Classics like ‘Feel Good Hit of The Summer’ and ‘Make It Wit Chu’ ensured that ardent fans were catered for too, although personally I felt that the fresher songs from 2013’s ‘…Like Clockwork’ were those more warmly received and those better performed generally.

The last coupling of ‘Go With The Flow’ and ‘A Song For The Dead’ were awesome. The latter allowed drummer Jon Theodore to take centre stage, with a sizzling drum solo, it was a song that the band performed with such intensity and vigour, it was hard to take your eyes away from it. And that was that from Queens, a band who managed to surpass my sky-high expectations.

Hoping to shake off the electrical problems which had plagued them the previous night at Reading, Hayley Williams and Paramore, started off by complimenting QOTSA and brought out an extensive light show as they closed the night. The first half of the show was full of the old fan favourites, with a big sing-a-long for ‘The Only Exception’. As a result, the second lacked the punch of the first, with many of the recent self-titled record, which featured a distinct change of sound, making it up. I felt Williams was as good a leader as a band could hope for, fully of charisma and energy, but the performance didn’t connect with myself as much as it did with the ravenous crowd, who screamed and applauded for Williams and co in their droves.

Closing off the night the co-headliners rocked with a stint in the Silent Disco was a good choice. The tent, which had to be closed in 2013 due to high winds, was packed to the brim and offered great variety of current and past pop hits on one channel, with the other devoted to the rock the Reading & Leeds fanbase are more accustomed too. However, it was nice mixing it up every now and then, the atmosphere crackling into life every time a sing-song came on, with each DJ encouraging their sides to make some noise, always a great experience.

The last day of Leeds Fest 2014 saw the much-anticipated Royal Blood finally play, ahead of their just released debut LP. It was a fast, frenetic set which saw the bass and drum duo tear apart the Radio 1/NME tent, packing it out and then some at two in the afternoon, a pretty decent achievement at the end of a weekend chocced full of live music. I can certainly see them making their way up the R&L bill in the future.

Another band I’ve kept my eye on for a while are Brummie starlets, Peace. Possibly the most popular of the current crop of B-town talent, the indie rock outfit made their maiden Main Stage appearance and had a sizeable crowd, their fans amongst the most passionate of the modern day indie era. It was nice for new single ‘Money’ to get an outing, and their new material may swing towards a more poppy sound, but if the UK is to re-start its Britpop scene, look no further than these guys.

Next up was a guaranteed party with the madcap antics of The Hives. Sure they’d released no new material since last appearing at the festival in 2012, but they really didn’t need to, as they performed a masterful set dripping full of favourites like ‘Main Offender’ and ‘Walk Idiot Walk’, beginning with the customary ‘Come On!’, descending into a crowd sit-in and ending with the front section losing it to ‘Hate To Say I Told You So’. Sure, I heard some complaints about frontman Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist’s extended crowd interaction…but I loved it!

I caught only the backend of Foster the People’s Main Stage set, but from what I saw I regretted not seeing the previous half-an-hour. A more mellow version of ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ was pretty memorable, but more than anything they were a band full of confidence and had some good crowd interaction, you got the feeling they were genuinely excited and ecstatic to be with thousands of us in a field in Yorkshire.

One band who’ve had an incredible 12 months are Imagine Dragons, going from a smallish spot on the NME tent last year, just before they made it big, to collaborating with Kendrick Lamar, selling bucketloads of their debut record and making it up to third on the bill on the Main Stage. Again, frontman Dan Reynolds was immensely likeable and thankful for being up there, complimenting R&L for believing in them when no one else would and taking a chance on them. Crowd favourites, ‘Demons’ and ‘Amsterdam’ peppered the set, before a cover of Blur’s ‘Song 2’ paved the way for the rendition of ‘Radioactive’ Leeds had been waiting for. Album number two should bring more exciting times ahead for the Las Vegas act.

Bombay Bicycle Club were as charming as ever as they headlined the NME/Radio 1 Tent, packing it to the rafters, as slices were taken from 2014 album ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’, most notably ‘Feel’, ‘It’s Alright Now’ and ‘Luna’. I’d seen the polished show around the time of the album’s release, but it was nice to see it having been developed and smoothed out for a festival crowd. Collaborators Rae Morris and Liz Lawrence added that little bit extra to one of the most satisfying hour the weekend had to offer.

From the NME tent, it was a mad dash to see the band most had been waiting for the entire weekend; Arctic Monkeys. The Main Stage field was packed as far as the eye could see, as the Yorkshire quartet cemented their status as one of the biggest rock bands in the world, even if their set wasn’t entirely perfect.

One look at the setlist would tell you the Arctics dusted off all the favourites, alongside extended coverage of latest record ‘AM’, but the performance was rather erratic, as frontman Alex Turner was occasionally slurry in his delivery and a bit out of it, plus the performances of songs like ‘Brianstorm’ and ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ lacked their usual rapid rhythm, for whatever reason. But come the end of the set, it was hard to come away having not enjoyed at least a portion of the set, whether you were an old or a new fan, there was something for everyone in this intriguing 90 minutes.

And that was that for Leeds 2014, another grand Bank Holiday weekend with stacks of memorable moments and top performances by some of the most exciting acts on the planet, Leeds '15 can't come quickly enough!

 


Photos by Gary Mather

 

Leeds Festival 2014- Arctic Monkeys Review

Arctic Monkeys were the band handed the honour of closing this year's Leeds Festival; the self-anointed Kings of Yorkshire playing a set just short of 90 minutes to a bumper 90,000 crowd.

Alex Turner and co followed on from the acoustic stylings of Jake Bugg and took the majority of the audience by storm, blasting out crowd favourites 'Do I Wanna Know? and 'Brianstorm' in a powerful 1-2 punch that set the tone for the rest of the set. 

Turner was his usual uber-cool self, the man practically oozing cool in a jacket with emblazoned with Yorkshire badges and drummer Matt Helders' famed '0114' bass drum adding to the sense of this being the Monkeys in their natural habitat, as close to a grand homecoming as they've managed and what turned out to be one of the last few shows supporting 2013's successful 'AM' LP.

However, I felt this record's slow and steady pace was reflected far too much across a number of their others tunes, the beat often being diluted especially prevalent in their breakthrough 'I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor'.

The mix-and-match nature of the set was a nice touch though, as the decade in which the Arctics have been around have seen them grow from a bunch of scruffy kids from Sheffield into the polished rock band they resemble today; having the likes of 'Dancing Shoes' alongside the mature, crisp 'No.1 Party Anthem' tells you all you need to know about the growth the band have had in a relatively short space of time.

A four-song encore saw fan favourites 'Mardy Bun' (albeit a short acoustic version) and 'When The Sun Goes Down' receive airings, alongside possibly the biggest song for the lads, 'R U Mine?', which had an extremely elongated ending which almost came across as tedious.

So that was the Arctic Monkeys; a reliable as ever headliner for a festival the size of Leeds and a set that a massive crowd lapped up, with Alex Turner immortalising himself as one of the leading frontmen in the industry.

Leeds Festival 2014- Queens of the Stone Age and Paramore Review

The second night of Leeds Festival saw one of the more intriguing partnerships around; Queens of the Stone Age and Paramore split the honour of playing to the biggest crowd of the evening.

Queens were up first, having closed the previous night at Reading. Josh Homme and his extensive band put on a simply brilliant rock show, with thrills in the shape of some impressive laser-shows and some mind-melting guitar-driven beasts of songs. The energy from the band was subtle, growing and growing with each tune. ‘No One Knows’ as song number two was a daring choice, but paid off handsomely as newbies ‘My God Is The Sun’ and ‘Smooth Sailing’ more than benefitted from the buzz generated.

Classics like ‘Feel Good Hit of The Summer’ and ‘Make It Wit Chu’ ensured that ardent fans were catered for too, although personally I felt that the fresher songs from 2013’s ‘…Like Clockwork’ were those more warmly received and those better performed generally.

The last coupling of ‘Go With The Flow’ and ‘A Song For The Dead’ were awesome. The latter allowed drummer Jon Theodore to take centre stage, with a sizzling drum solo, it was a song that the band performed with such intensity and vigour, it was hard to take your eyes away from it. And that was that from Queens, a band who managed to surpass my sky-high expectations.

Closing Leeds on the Saturday night meant a shot at redemption for Paramore, whose Reading set had show-stopping delays of up to 15 minutes after a power shortage saw Hayley Williams have to resort to an acapella version of ‘The Only Exception’.

However, there were none such issues during the Americans set, featuring just over a dozen songs and a heap of Williams have a general chat with her adoring fans, one of whom she plucked from the front barrier and brought on stage to share the chorus of ‘Misery Business’.

Photo courtesy of Leeds Festival – Giles Smith

It was a slick show with pyro, confetti cannons galore and a couple of ‘I had to be there’ moments; the band’s newer material didn’t bring the same sort of attention and clamour that the classics did, but Williams has an endearing quality about her, as she represents that you can be who you want and rock out to 90,000 in a field in Yorkshire.

The experiment between two American rock-bands worked; both Queens and Paramore had some cracking moments, and I wouldn’t really be surprised to see extended full-headliner status for them over the next few years.

Leeds Festival 2014 – Blink-182 Review

The event music aficionados had been waiting a solid 12 months for finally arrived last night as pop-punk kings blink-182 took to the Main Stage at Leeds for the coveted Friday night headline slot.

Mark Hoppus, Travis Barker and Tom Demonge made it three times they had headlined both Reading and Leeds sites, the first for four years and ahead of a new album rumoured to be released to the world by the turn of 2014.

A single black curtain covered the Main Stage, as the anticipation reached breaking point, before the music stopped, the drape dropped and the trio emerged to a Union Jack with the unmistakable blink logo taking the centre stage.

Kicking off with ‘Feeling This’, everyone’s favourite childish rockers breezed through their set, peppering song breaks with some genuinely crude, hilarious humour and entertaining the masses excellently with their extensive back catalogue.

The crowd of course reacted magnificently to all-time hit ‘All The Small Things’, but then this was Friday night of Leeds 2014, it was heaving and pits were breaking out all over the inside barrier.

Photo courtesy of Leeds Festival – Giles Smith

The trio of songs that made up the encore summed up the evening for the Americans; ‘Violence’ a breath-taking tune that allows every band member to step up to the plate, ‘Dammit’ a veritable classic that the first strokes of the guitar riff sent everyone into a fit of excitement, and ‘Family Reunion’, a 40 second tune that manages to pack in all of the band’s trademark crude humour in an expletive-ridden blast.

And that was it! Around 90 minutes after they’d first taken to the stage, blink were done and dusted. They’d brought bags of humour and energy to the Leeds Main Stage, not to mention a number of outrageous drum solos from the magnificent Travis Barker. Sure leadman Delonge was a bit off-key at moments, but the show that was put on by these three over-sized children was still a sure-fire, reliable way to kick-off another year of Leeds.

Y Not Festival 2014 Review

One of the UK's fastest-growing festivals, Derbyshire's Y Not returned for its ninth outing and delivered a weekend chocked full of 'I was there' moments; be it the triumphant closure of Dizzee Rascal's compelling Saturday night headliner set, the smooth hip-hop of American trio De La Soul or the rousing, foot-stomping bangers that pumped out of the Saloon Bar all weekend long, there was something for every music lover, young and old, at this year's gathering. 

For me, it began on Friday with exciting Birmingham band Superfood. Scores of teens flooded the main stage front to see the intriguing four-piece, who proceeded to belt out guitar-led anthems that were shouty, loud and fun. A band who'd been on my radar for a while, exceeded my expectations and kicked off the festival nicely. Intermittent rain showers were just a preview of the weather to come, but still it led me to the Saloon Bar in the middle of the site, to check out Three Minute Heist. 

The Saloon Bar is a perfect replica of an American Western bar, with only the stench of Somersby cider and cans of Tuborg giving away the fact we were at a festival in the middle of the Derbyshire countryside in 2014! Nevertheless, that didn't stop the aforementioned quartet bringing their brand of country blues and sing-a-longs along to transport us back a century. The packed out venue was rocking, especially so with closer 'Johnny B. Goode'.

After checking out the finest reggae and drum 'n' bass tents Y Not has to offer, it was off to the wetter Main Stage to check out London's very own Spector. Lead singer Fred Macpherson's powerful and unique vocals managed to keep his band alive, as they put in a so-so performance of their back catalogue 'Chevy Thunder' and fresh cuts from an upcoming new record, that managed to keep the crowd bobbing along to their bouncy pop-rock.

The first of the weekend's big boys then took to the Main Stage; Johnny Borrell leading his Razorlight bandmates out almost a decade after headlining a stage at Glastonbury. They reeled through a Greatest Hits set in which you could sense their class, but it was all pretty unexciting. Borrell was never the greatest of stage presences, and whilst his ambition was there, his band never quite reached their fullest of potential with either their career or this subbing set. 

A headline set by Reel Big Fish is a must-see. The pop-punk band are an assured live act, and got the Quarry crowd up off their feet for a good chunk of the gig. Live brass bands are always a plus, and the band had their crowd in the palm of their hand, with circle pits forming as far as the eye could see, a packed crowd revelled in the moment in what was surely one of the most memorable Quarry sets. Finishing with their famed cover of a-ha's 'Take on Me', was predictable, yet incredible.

A quick dash back over to the Main Stage, saw White Lies begin. Despite their tunes lacking the considerable 'oomph' of their fellow headliners, the indie-rockers kept sections of the crowd entertained, with an enjoyable if forgettable set. 

My Saturday began over at the Quarry, to check out up-and-coming rap/pop artist Ady Suleiman. Describing him as a 'better' Ed Sheeran might be a step too far (and I'm not a fan of Sheeran!), but Suleiman was the perfect hangover cure for many, as he and his band rattled through their half-an-hour set, leaving you wanting far, far more. If there could be any criticism, it would be that his lyrics could develop moreso, hearing song after song about the generic 'lost woman' does tire after a bit, but this is a man to watch out for. Equally experiemental beatboxer Shlomo was another top pick. Using his loop machine, he treated us to stories of how he discovered his talent, a great cover of 'No Diggity' and a pulsating climax.

One of the most anticipated artists of 2013 were Brummie's Swim Deep. Scintiallating cuts of sun-laden summery tunes were released periodically by them throughout the year, before the release of debut album, 'Where The Heaven We Are' disappointed many, myself included. This set though, reignited some hope within me, that they can reach the heights promised by songs like 'Honey' and 'King City', as they impressed hugely in 'Arcade Fire'-esque blue facepaint. The all-important second record could make or break them.

Scots The Fratellis, know all about that, debut album 'Costello Music', providing them with a springboard into British music, before their follow-up 'Here We Stand' flopping, and the inevitable hiatus following. But they brought back memories of their 2006 breakthrough with hit after hit. Even the songs that weren't ingrained into our brains, were pretty good, bouncy tracks. However, throughout the set, bottles and cans of beer littered the stage, leading to frontman Jon Fratelli to warn 'one more of that and that's your lot'. It ceased the flow, but still was an unsavoury incident, and not the last of it at all…

The man most of the 12,000 festival-goers had flocked to see, Dizzee Rascal took to the stage a little after his 10pm start time, but delivered in a massive way. His set was eclectic and his famed live show, was a tour de force in pure entertainment. All he needed was his DJ, a couple of hype men and the stage was set for a victorious performance. His collaborations with other artists, opener 'Here 2 China' with Calvin Harris, 'Heavy', from Chase & Status and the excellent 'Dirtee Love' with Florence + the Machine, reminded you of the quality of Dizzee's back catalogue, but his standalone hits, 'Holiday', 'Bassline Junkie' and the sheer power of 'Bonkers', makes you wonder how long it will be before Dizzee headlines ascends to headliner status at one of the UK's greatest and biggest festivals.

With the crowd size having thinned out following Mr Rascal's Saturday night slot, I thought it best to check out the finer sights of Y Not on Sunday…the funfair! With a cheap roller disco, a cracking dodgems and a postponed paint fight, Sunday was a riotous day, with the sun finally coming out to dry the festival site considerably by the evening. It boosted the fatigued amongst the Y Not crowd, and was grand preparation for a fantastic end to the festival.

Derby band Joint Honours managed to fill the Allotment stage to the max, bringing some poppy, guitar-driven tunes to the fore and getting the crowd going hugely for late afternoon on a Sunday. One of my favourite bands of the minute, Palma Violets did not disappoint on the Main Stage. The powerful rock band, were uber-confident and strutting around the stage for an extended 45-minute set. 'Best Friends' has to be the biggie, but I cannot wait for their second album to drop so they can expand their ambitious sound and step up to the next level.

A switch in sound, to the hip-hop stylings of legends De La Soul. Hit after hit followed as the trio participated in some hilarious crowd participation, promoting inter-crowd rivalries, before daring the very same idiotic people who had pelted bottles at the Fratellis the previous day to try the same with them, but letting them know how stupid they were, provoking yet more acclaim. Their set was a perfect exercise in getting a field full of weary bodies to dance to some classic tunes for one last hour.

There was only one man who could close such a festival, take to the stage Y Not three-timer, Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls. Frank's last outing in these parts came in 2009, a well-overdue return saw him rise to headliner status. The cult rocker entertained in huge doses, as he reeled through tracks from 2013's 'Tape Deck Heart', his fifth studio album, as well as crowd favourites 'I Still Believe' and 'Wessex Boy'. The riotous fireworks that marked the end of his hour and the end of the Y Not weekend were special and poignant.

Here was an artist and a festival that have never been better, Y Not will celebrate its tenth birthday next August and whilst it is hard to see just how it will be able to cram more goodness into one weekend, you can bet that organisers will try their hardest to make 2015 bigger and better than this stellar weekend!

Handmade Festival 2014 Review

For its second year, the burgeoning Handmade Festival, situated in a number of venues across the inner-city landscape of Leicester, brought in a diverse range of acts once again.

Headliners for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday amounted to Irish experimentalists And So I Watch You From Afar, Japanese pop-rock girl-band Shonen Knife and the rousing acoustics of Dry the River, a pretty eclectic mixture, I'm sure you'll agree! Throw in some top comedic acts interspersed throughout local talent and smaller acts, aswell as photography and art installations at some interesting venues, a great combination of entertainment all for just £30.

For me, it began on Friday evening with Matt Henshaw  at the Cookie. Henshaw had pre-empted his slot with a selection of photos featuring him alongside Leicester landmarks like the Clock Tower and the King Power Stadiumon on his Facebook page. It was a nice way to kick-off the festival as his soulful style was soothing, after a long week for the majority of the audience! Henshaw is appearing back at the Cookie in a month's time to launch his new EP, so the city obviously means a lot to him, something he pointed out inbetween songs.

I jumped over to the Firebug pub to check out MJ Hibbett & the Validators set upstairs. They attracted a sparse, yet involved crowd upstairs, as they rattled through a relatively short 30-minute set. The leader of the group, Hibbett has a great history with the music industry, creating his own music label 'Artists Against Success' and peppered with a few viral hits, including he claims, the first ever viral video. I liked the tight drumming and the use of a violin, shaking things up a bit, and the lyricism of Hibbett was subtle yet effect, in a similar vein to Melvyn Bragg.

From Firebug, it was then over to the exquisite Hansome Hall, my third venue of the night for the backend of Three Trapped Tigers' set. I emerged into the ex-theatre venue to see a room full of bouncing fans, as TTT had the crowd in the palm of their hand. From the brief end of the set, it was clear to see they were on fine form, a fact confirmed as I discussed with a fellow fan who'd seen the entirity of the set.

But it was undoubtedly obvious what the majoirty of said fans were there for, the experimental stylings of Irish band And So I Watch You From Afar. Having listened to some of their work beforehand, I was anticipating their arrival greatly, and I wasn't left disappointed. The three-pronged guitars were backed up brilliantly by their drummer and some choice cuts from last year's 'All Hail Bright Future's' LP went down a storm, 'Big Things Do Remarkable' and 'Eunoia' amongst them. Their second record has progressed them higher up the musical spectrum, so it was great to see them in such an intimate environment, where they filled the room brilliantly with their sound. What was great about the band was that they controlled the room with very little vocalisation, but when that did kick in, you felt the effect fully. It was a great ending to the first evening of fun, as the band told their ecstatic audience just how much they loved playing in Leicester, a city that has been great to them.

Saturday began with a set from locals Juniors. They played at Firebug, which again showed its impressive use of space for a live music venue. It was brash, loud start to the day as the alternative-rock the band plays throws in some ragged, raw riffs to create a pacy, head-pounding sound. 'Sharman's Rug' was the pick of the bunch, as Leicester's eclectic music production line looks to have created a new batch of stars.

Brawlers followed Juniors, and kept up the relentless pace. It was almost as if the two bands were in direct competition for who could be as fast as possible. Nonetheless, the quality didn't dip either, as they impressed immensely. I got a Dinosaur Pile-Up vibe from the foursome, whilst there were also shades of the Strokes too. Handmade did well to deliver two such exciting bands so early in the day. 

After settling down, I was ready for the calming acoustics of Katie Malco at the Bishop St Methodist Centre. It was a much different affair from the back-to-back rockers of earlier in the day, but it's clear to see Malco is just as talented, as her haunting vocals put her in the bracket of fellow songstress Emmy the Great. The use of a piano on 'September' elevated her gig even moreso, making me delighted I'd picked to see this rising starlet. Go YouTube her now and prepare to be excited!

The exciting thing about this festival is the sheer variety, for this you just have to go for Shonen Knife. A band who toured with Nirvana and taken influences from the likes of the Ramones and the Beach Boys are never going to be boring! They followed on from ASIWYFA the previous evening to take on the headline status at Hansome Hall, and they lived up to the high standards set on Friday night, with their range of tunes that delighted a passionate crowd. After seeing a lot of up-and-comers it was refreshing to see band who'd toured the world over and still had such love for the art, most bands should look at Shonen Knife as a great template to follow.

For me, Sunday was a quieter affair, beginning in the surroundings of the comedy basecamp, St Martin's Coffee Shop. I took my place in the terrfically decorated venue ready for a slice of comedy from 'Never Mind the Buzzcocks' panellist and Pete Docherty lookalike Joey Page. Possibly the first observation from Page was of his passing resembelance to the Libertines frontman, as his eccentric show took in some Noel Fielding-esque stories of fantasy encounters with Eric Cantona in the five-item queue in Tesco Express…a ramble that began after thanking a guy called Stan for attending his show. Granted it might not be to everyone's comedic taste, but Page, admitting that the show was a smorgasboard of new and old material, had everyone roaring with laughter, especially with his discussion of just what has gone wrong with ITV's very own 'Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'. A great diversion from the excellent music I had seen up to that point.

Speaking in Italics followed up a show the other side of Leicester (the O2 Academy) the previous evening to entertain the citizens of Firebug with a half-hour set of progressive rock, that strayed into a more hardcore area at times. I enjoyed the vocals quite a lot, as they clashed with the instrumentation, but in a good way! No, SiI were placed well, offering a nice slice of entertainment ahead of their quieter counterparts.

Next up for me were Cut Ribbons, another interesting mixture of sounds. A lighter offering of indie-pop with male and female vocals, the sound was fresh and crisp as I got poppy-vibes, alongside something like early Kings of Leon. The vocals are hard to place though, given their originality. I enjoyed single 'Damascus' a lot, and they are supporting Thumpers on a UK tour, so watch out for more from this original group.

Possibly the most famous act at the minute on the entire bill came last, Dry the River, were an act a lot of people had been waiting for and a little bit later than advertised, the moment they took to the Firebug stage was a great one. The bar was slowly filling up throughout the evening and was almost to capacity when the foursome came on. Every song was greeted with rapturous applause, as songs from 2012's 'Shallow Bed' LP were sung from the rafters with some new material cheekily thrown in for good measure. They played for just under an hour, but it was a great experience, seeing such a hot band in such tight circumstances, made for memorable moments, such as 'Shield Your Eyes' and 'Weights & Measures' a rousing tune. The band themselves appeared to be loving every moment too, thanking the crowd for their patience and support throughout.

So there you have it, Handmade Festival is an exciting event that is growing with each annual edition. It was my first proper metropolitan city festival, and an experience I thoroughly enjoyed, allowing me to take in a wealth of different arenas, picking out some hidden musical gems in the process.

Dot to Dot Festival drops Drenge, The Pizza Underground and Catfish & the Bottlemen in second announcement

Booming Derbyshire duo Drenge are the big act of the second Dot-to-Dot Festival announcement. 

The Loveless brothers have built up a wild fanbase through their titular debut album and supporting slots, including one with Dot to Dot headliners Peace before their own headlining tour in Spring 2014.

Former child actor Macaulay Culkin brings his 'The Velvet Underground' tribute act, The Pizza Underground to the UK, with hits like 'I'm Waiting For Delivery Man' and 'Cheese Days' under the belt.

Rising star Luke Sital-Singh will also showcase his talents, alongside The Heartbreaks.

The inner-city festival takes place on consecutive days in Manchester, Bristol and Nottingham on Friday May 23, Saturday May 24 and Sunday May 25, respectively.

Further new additions Saint Raymond and Catfish and the Bottlemen are playing certain legs of the festival, with Nottingham and Manchester for the former and just Manchester for the latter.

These new names come secondary to the initial announcement, which saw Peace, The Midnight Beast, Courtney Barnett and Wolf Alice, amongst others, playing the festival, which costs just £20.

Full Line-Up So Far:  Peace // The Midnight Beast Drenge // Saint Raymond* // Catfish & The Bottlemen** // Real Estate // Lauren Aquiliana 
Luke Sital-Singh // Courtney Barnett // Darlia // Kyla La Grange // Wolf Alice 
The Pizza Underground // Hudson Taylor // Josh Record 
Amber Run // Barbarossa // Betty Who // Big Sixes // Caveman // Champs // Charlotte OC 
EZRA FURMAN // Frank Hamilton // Fred Page // Freddie Dickson // Fyfe // Gallery Circus 
Gavin James // Gengahr // George Barnett // God Damn // Horse Thief // JAWS // Joel Baker 
La Femme // Lapland // Laura Welsh // Life // Life In Film // LSA // Marika Hackman 
MT Royal // No Sinner // Noah Gundersen // Norma Jean Martine // Port Isla // Pup // Sean McGowan 
Sivu // Slaves // Southern // St Paul & The Broken Bones // Sundara Karma // The 45s 
The Heartbreaks // The Jacques // The Trouble With Templeton // We The Wild // We Were Evergreen 
Wonder Villains // Young Kato // Young Romance 
*Nottingham and Manchester Only ** Manchester Only 

Handmade Festival hits Leicester for the second year with Dry the River the standout act

Leicester's very own inner city festival is back for its second year, with a recent announcement for the Handmade Festival, seeing Dry The River amongst others, revealed to be playing.

Dry The River take to the stage to play on Sunday May 4, with And So I Watch You From Afar the must-see act on Friday May 2 and long-running Japanese trio Shonen Knife topping the bill on Saturday May 3.

The aim is to bring an eclectic mix of music and the arts to fill the bars, venues and cathedrals (yes you read right), full of the best musicians, comedians and pieces of art going, alongside raw local talent, with applications being accepted from around the region.

2013's edition of the festival saw Rolo Tomassi, Dutch Uncles and Nine Black Alps amongst others feature on the bill, and with more acts promised for this year, the festival is looking to surpass its debut year.

Tickets for the full weekend are currently priced at £30 or £15 for a day ticket, with the wristband gaining access to a number of venues across the East Midlands city.

It's the beginning of a good year for Leicester, with the massive homecoming gig at Victoria Park for Kasabian in June, a new music festival pencilled in for Welford Road in late July and the annual Strawberry Fields, held in rural Leicestershire to come in August.

Peace, The Midnight Beast, Real Estate and Courtney Barnett all announced for Dot to Dot Festival 2014

The first wave of announcements for citywide music extravaganza Dot to Dot Festival have been made, and include inde-rock headliners Peace, parody group The Midnight Beast and Aussie singer/songwriter Courtney Barnett.

In addition are surf rockers Real Estate, Paris' very own We Were Evergreen, along with another exciting Brit group Wolf Alice. Grunge rockers Darlia will be another highlight, as will the soulful singing of Kyla La Grange,who adds yet another festival appearance to her schedule. Fyfe, Norma Jean Martine and Young Kato make up the best of the rest.

Peace's return to the festival will be of particular interest to Dot to Dot veterans, as their 2012 performance set them on the way to the stardom they're currently acheiving. Last year's debut release 'In Love', saw them garnered with praise from the likes of the NME, and they used summer festival appearances and a winter UK tour to further showcase their abilities. Now in 2014, they're back, with album number two being recorded as we speak!

With a couple of TV series' and over 64 million YouTube views under their belts, Midnight Beast will also be taking to the Dot to Dot stage, adding a bit of humour to proceedings. Look out for Courtney Barnett too, a frank and honest songwriter who isn't afraid to sing what she feels, the Australian is gaining a lot of attention.

Dot to Dot 2014 takes place over three consecutive days in Manchester on Friday, May 23, Bristol, Saturday May 24, before ending in Nottingham on Sunday, May 25, at various venues scattered throughout the city, with over 14 hours of music to keep punters entertained.

The likes of the XX, Mumford & Sons, Florence + the Machine and Foals have all featured at past festivals, which aim to showcase the talent of the future in initimate venues for bargain prices.

With tickets set at a bargain £20 (plus £2 booking fees), the Best Metropolitan Festival of 2013, as handed out by the UK Festival Awards, looks to be yet another success in its ninth year of running.

Full Line-Up: 

Peace will headline, plus The Midnight Beast, Real Estate, We Were Evergreen, Wolf Alice, Courtney Barnett, Fyfe, Darlia, Kyla La Grange, Barbarossa, Betty Who, Caveman, Frank Hamilton, Norma Jean Martine, Gavin James, George Barnett, Horse Thief, Lapland, Laura Welsh, LSA, Marika Hackman, Mt Royal, Sean McGowan, Sivu, St Paul and The Broken Bones, Sundara Karma, We The Wild, Wonder Villains, and Young Kato, with more to be announced.