Launched in 2007, Live at Leeds defines much of the music scene in Leeds. With a careful curation of budding local artists, to musicians much further afield, the metropolitan festival is not one to be understated. Last year, the team behind the award-winning fest decided to launch Live at Leeds: In the Park; offering all the goodness of the city festival, but with the luscious backdrop of Temple Newsam. Not to mention another whole host of great music.
This past scorcher of a weekend saw the almighty return of the festival, offering a wide selection of Yorkshire-based musicians, international acts, and a nice dose of house-hold names.
Indie heroes Two Door Cinema Club and Swedish rock band The Hives graced this year’s festival as headliners, but it was the acts further down the line-up that truly stunned, and showed what Live at Leeds is all about.
Kate Nash took to the main stage, otherwise known as The Cockpit (a sweet homage to one of Leeds’ famous long lost venues), at a reasonably early hour, but still brought out one of the biggest crowds of the day.
Dashing around the stage in a vision in pink, Nash offered witty humour with a touch of humility as she presented personal anecdotes about her unfair treatment from record labels, among others. This is before she looked up at the beaming sun, and made sure we were wearing enough sun cream, remarking “don’t get cocky. You’re all British, don’t forget that.”
Nash was energetic and enthusiastic while performing hits new and old alongside her incredibly powerful and equally animated band. It was impressive that she managed to keep the whole audience engaged, whether it be from the delicacies of debut album, ‘House Of Bricks’, or new self-released single, ‘Wasteman’.
Finally, was the moment we were all waiting for. Foundations. Just as expected, it seemed as if the entire festival erupted into screaming “I said I rather be with your friends mate, because they are much fitter”. Nothing like the sheer brilliance of British penmanship to unite thousands of music fans.
Everything Everything’s set was the top of my priority list. After missing out on seeing them headline the Live at Leeds opening party in 2020 I had incredibly high hopes. As it turned out, the whole of the festival had similarly high levels of anticipation.
There was a definite buzz as we entered the Rolling Stone tent. Not only was it absolutely teeming with fans, meaning we had to sneakily snake our way to the front, but it was clear that from the outset, people were excited. Thanks to the 10-minute delayed start, many people in the crowd were getting rowdy; acting like greyhounds waiting to be let out of the gate.
As Everything Everything ploughed through their well curated set-list, the energy in the venue persisted and despite the seemingly fast paced lyrics offered by the band, the whole audience impressively continued to shout out every lyric, word for word.
No matter the track, new or old, the crowd continued to show their appreciation for a band many of us had waited years to see. It was an incredible display of admiration for the Manchester based outfit and considering front man Johnathan Higgs’ beaming expression throughout the 45 minute set, he clearly had a lot of appreciation for us too.
Seeing Kiwi indie legends, The Beths, on the Live at Leeds line-up was a surprise, but an incredibly pleasant one at that.
Featuring a 10 foot fish on the stage, the band seemed effortlessly casual and calm, despite the glaring elephant – or should I say fish – in the room. They strutted onto the stage to an instrumental version of one of their top tracks, ‘Future Me Hates Me’, before launching full force into the song.
With a powerful start to their show underway, the band remained incredibly tranquil, all dressed in t-shirts and short, while performing intricate and passionate guitar solos. The sense of chill continued to ascend throughout the audience, who instead of wallowing in the heat that was the Rolling Stone tent, turned their attention to all the goodness happening on stage.
The band waded through tracks from newest album ‘Expert In A Dying Field’, personal favourite, ‘When You Know You Know’, and recently released track, ‘Watching The Credits’, which we later found out was the reason for the giant fish on stage (thanks to the expertly created single art work).
The Beths offered a tranquil and calming relief from the hectic day, but still offered plenty of mind-bending instrumentation and glorious vocals from leading lady Liz Stokes.
There is nothing to top off the end of a sunny day like a feel-good indie band, and DMA’s certainly hit that mark. Performing on the Main Stage just as the sun began to set behind Temple Newsam, it was, in the words of Liam Gallagher “f*cking biblical”.
The Aussie based trio were met with quite the adoring crowd, as despite most of us festival go-ers perching on the hill that over-looks the mainstage, there were still thousands of fans grouped behind the barrier, waiting for their moment with the band.
Amongst their high energy set, featuring debut single ‘Delete’, and tracks from newest album ‘How Many Dreams’, was a real standout moment: their cover of ‘Believe’ by Cher. The way that they made it really sound like their own work, rather than a copy of the 70s hit was admirable, and it certainly encouraged the rest of the festival ground to have a good sing-along too.
You didn’t really go to Live At Leeds if you didn’t see a local band that blew you away. My local fix came in the form of Ellur, a Halifax, West Yorkshire based musician offering feel-good indie pop hits.
For being one of the first acts of the day, it’s hard to believe it, as the DIY tent was busy for a 12:45pm slot. Ellur was teaming with energy, as her pink tulle skirt shifted along stage while jumping around; an excitement met by her fan base pushing at the barrier.
While not previously familiar with the works of Ellur, it’s hard not to be encouraged by the band to get involved. Deep emotional lyrics, complimented by light-hearted guitar riffs and synth lines, it’s the kind of stuff that makes you want to dance. They certainly gained a whole host of new fans that day. This is what Live at Leeds is all about, right?
Words: Tamzin Kraftman