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 – 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.

Blink 182 to headline Sziget Festival

Hot of the press from Sziget Festival HQ, the Summer Festival Guide can announce that Blink 182 will finally headline the festival on the 11th August 2014.

More additions to the festival include Cee Lo Green and Jimmy Eat World, plus Casper, A Day To Remember and Fedde le Grand. Limited numbers of reduced price Weekly Passes are still available until 30th April!

Blink 182 to headline Reading & Leeds Festival 2014

With amazing memories of this summer still fresh, Reading & Leeds Festivals are excited to reveal that the first Main Stage headliner for the 2014 events will be the legendary Blink-182 in their only UK show! Joining them will be Jake Bugg,DisclosureMetronomyOf Mice & MenWilkinson and I Am Legion, the first amazing names set to appear across the Festivals for an unforgettable August Bank Holiday Weekend. The award-winning Reading & Leeds are the natural home for music lovers seeking the best acts, with the best atmosphere, surrounded by like-minded fans.
 
Festival boss Melvin Benn comments:
 
“2013 was a year of exciting additions for Reading & Leeds Festivals, making them bigger and better than ever. With extra stages and genres at both sites, there was a new diversity for all our fans to enjoy. However the core essence of the festival hasn’t changed and I think the line-up for next year will most certainly reflect that.  I know our fans will be delighted to welcome back our first headliners, Blink-182, with what promises to be an amazing show, as well as the brilliant Jake Bugg stepping up to the Main Stage. I can’t wait to reveal the rest of our incredible line-up, so watch this space!”
 
Blink 182
 
Firm fan favourites, Blink-182 first played Reading & Leeds in 1999 and blew the Main Stage sky-high when they headlined in 2010. Mark, Tom and Travis return in 2014 to headline the Main Stage with their incendiary punk-pop anthems and you can be sure they’ll perform a set laden with hits such as ‘All The Small Things’, ‘Dammit’ and much more. The band will also be giving fans a debut airing of the much-anticipated forthcoming seventh studio album which will be released next summer, the first new material since their self-released EP in 2012, which featured ‘Dogs Eating Dogs’ and ‘Disaster.’ A band that never fails to deliver, this is a booking that will bring a smile to every ardent Reading & Leeds fan and will be the band’s only UK shows of 2014.
 
Mark Hoppus adds:
 
"I’m stoked to play Reading & Leeds 2014.  It’s our fourth time playing the festivals, and we’re very honoured.  The new year will see us in the studio preparing new music, getting ready to rock the fine people of the UK.  Prepare for the fury."
 
Jake Bugg is one of the biggest success stories of Reading & Leeds Festivals in recent years. Even before he released his first album he’d already made his debut on the Festival Republic Stage in 2012. Returning to the Festivals in 2013, having travelled the world and received numerous accolades, Jake moved further up the bill, and with a Number One debut album under his belt, drew huge crowds to enjoy a hit laden set. Now following the release of his brilliant second album 'Shangri La', produced by the legendary Rick Rubin, we can announce that Jake will make another significant step up this year, taking his deserved place on the Main Stage. 
 
Commenting on his appearance Jake said:
 
"Reading & Leeds have become a bit of a regular feature of my summers lately, so it's amazing to be asked back again. I was just kind of starting out the first time I played and it was a really important gig for me. Playing this year was fun and seemed like lots more people knew the songs; it was great hearing everyone singing the words back at me. I'm sure playing on the Main Stage will be a different experience again, so it's exciting. I've got my new album out so there's plenty of time for people to learn the words. It should be pretty special."
 
Often an artist like Jake Bugg comes along, who is so relevant and whose music has created such a buzz that fans demand their return to the Festivals; it is only right that Reading & Leeds provide the platform to see these artists excel. Another great example of this is Disclosure, the most successful British dance act in a generation, who turned the genre on its head in 2013 and opened the door for a host of underground dance acts to flood the mainstream.  Throughout the year Disclosure soared to the top of the charts with their debut album ‘Settle’ and sold out venues across the world. Their set at last year’s Reading & Leeds was one of the stand out moments of the Festivals and the brothers return in 2014 with an arsenal of hit singles and a fearsome live reputation, this will be a headline performance in a packed arena.
 
Disclosure Reading Leeds 2014
 
Quintessentially English, modern pop act, Metronomy are one of the country’s most compelling live acts and make a welcome return to Reading & Leeds. New track 'I'm Aquarius' was launched by Zane Lowe as his Hottest Record In The World, had 120,000 SoundCloud plays in a matter of hours and went straight to Number One on Hype Machine.  There is a new album ‘Love Letters’, recorded at the legendary Toe Rag studios, due in March 2014 and it promises to translate brilliantly to the live show. 
 
Reading & Leeds introduced the exclusively rock element as an extension of the Lock Up Stage for the first time in 2013, providing a dedicated destination for the Festivals’ legions of rock and metal fans.  Featuring memorable sets from Shikari Sound System, Funeral For A Friend and more, this was an extremely popular addition. Now for 2014 Reading & Leeds welcome Southern Californian metalcore quintet, Of Mice & Men. The band release their eagerly anticipated third album ‘Restoring Force’ in January 2014 via Rise Records, the follow up to breakthrough album 'The Flood'. Having received nothing but adulation across the rock media, and instantly selling out London’s Koko, these achievements are testament to where this band are going, and where they’re going is Reading & Leeds! Their exclusive festival performances in England & Wales will be ones not to miss.
 
2013 saw a three day stage for all things electronic headlined by Magnetic Man, Sub Focus and Knife Party, proving there is a huge thirst for dance amongst the Reading & Leeds faithful. Just confirmed for 2014 is Mark ‘Wilkinson’, now a household name thanks to the massive hit, and dance chart Number One ‘Afterglow’, taken from his debut longplayer ‘Lazers Not Included’. He’s managed to retain all his credibility thanks to his masterful production talents and skills as a DJ. He won ‘Best Breakthrough Producer’ at the National D&B Awards, an accolade that is sure to be followed by many more.
 
All-new in 2013, an additional urban and hip-hop stage saw Wiley, Devlin and Wretch 32 heading up a cast of many of the Urban elite. This bass heavy stage was a great hit with fans and is guaranteed to be better than ever in 2014.  Combining grime, hip-hop, dubstep, drum and bass, and some stuff that’s yet to be defined, it’s safe to say that I Am Legion are in a league of their own. Their explosive self-titled collaborative album is the side project of Dutch record producers Noisia and Foreign Beggars rappers Metropolis and Orifice Vulgatron. This fresh and distinctive collective will bring a turbo-charged atmosphere with them to Reading & Leeds.

blink-182 to headline T in the Park 2011

With 25 million worldwide album sales under their belt, the pop punk trio from Poway California formed in 1992 and released five studio albums including multi-platinum selling breakthrough album ‘Enema of the State (1999)’ between 1994 and 2005 before breaking away from the music scene.  The 51st Grammy Awards in 2009 brought the band back together and with a new album planned for release in spring 2011, blink-182 will be back with a bang at Baldo.

Geoff Ellis (Festival Director) said: ‘blink 182 are renowned for their amazing live performances and fans are in for a real treat when they play T in the Park next year.  This is the second world class band we’ve announced and there’s plenty more to come…watch this space.

George Kyle (Head of Sponsorship Tennent’s Lager) said: ‘Attracting international bands like blink-182 and Foo Fighters further proves that T in the Park is on the of the UK’s biggest and best festivals.  Our 85,000 strong audience are in for another great year.

All Christmas Earlybird Tickets are now sold out.  The next batch of tickets will go on sale in February 2011.