Live review: Leeds Festival (Friday), 23/8/13

Leeds-Festival-2013--718882100-340x280.pngSo here it is again, the August bank holiday weekend, for most people this means a cheeky day off work, but for us devoted to all things noisy and mental it means only one thing – a trip to the holy- grail fields of either Reading or Leeds.

Feels like just yesterday I was trekking home from Bramham Park, but the reality is, it was a year ago since The Cure brought with them a plethora of melancholic moodiness and a lifetime supply of Robert Smiths mum’s mascara.

This year it is down to Scottish heroes Biffy Clyro, American idiots Green Day and Mr. Slim Shady himself, Eminem to enthral main stage revellers.

After a bright start to the weekend comprised of beautiful weather and many a cheeky water at the campsite, Armageddon arises on Thursday night with a dismantling thunderstorm which would insist on creating mudslides for the rest of the weekend.

By the time the music takes centre stage on Friday, there is already escalating depths of scintillating swamp like conditions spread around the park, which makes navigating around the stages as challenging as a learning driver undertaking their first three point turn.

Fear not, though, thankfully the NME/BBC Radio 1 stage is close at hand and nearest to the festival entrance, which proves quite a blessing considering most of the Friday would be spent at that very stage.

If ever there was a cure to the rain and mud, then it comes in the form of lo-fi San Diego sunny slacker Nathan Williams and Wavves who are admittedly absolutely steaming, I’ll raise a toast to that one lads.

Playing a set which delves into all the archives of the band’s back catalogue, it is somewhat reassuring that the highlight comes from this year’s fantastic Afraid of Heights as the title track sizzles and saunters all the way back to the bustling seams of the tent.

Stirring renditions of ‘Bug’ and ‘King of the Beach’ keep the older fans happy as the band trail off in the mud drenched fields in search of more beer.

Staying put at the NME/BBC Radio 1 stage, up next are Villagers who bring with them their distinctively unique take on spoken word narrative, there is a massively surreal buzz as the band witter through tracks from this year’s dark yet viscerally vibrant {Awayland}.

Conor O’Brien’s stuttering and trembling delivery adds so much to the live setting of Villagers, bringing a real swagger and charisma, which is most notable in the fascinating ‘Earthly Pleasure’, at times O’Brien’s pupils dilate so much with intensity that you feel he could combust and become one with the muddy Bramham Park fields.

Up next on the NME/Radio 1 stage is one of the bands I am personally most excited to see this weekend, that being AlunaGeorge, who have really came to prominence in 2013 with an innovative approach on mixing two stepping garage rock with a distinct R’n’B sound that reflects upon urban nostalgia, all the while creating a fresh and original sound.

In front women Aluna Francis there is an effervescent personified x-factor, which douses itself all over her and the bands stage presence.

While it is hit single ‘Attracting Flies’ which concocts the most cheers, it is the psychedelically futuristic ‘Body and Found’ which stomps and reverberates most fluorescently as the pair leave their mark, it would not be the last time we would witness Aluna today, but we will get to that later.

HAIM have stratospherically catapulted to the top of the world and music charts this year with massive single ‘Falling’, their rise has been all the more daunting considering the three sisters have yet to even release an album.

With all this in mind it is no surprise that the NME/Radio 1 stage has swelled to the size of a swollen and battered forehead to witness what the trio can bring live.

While the answer provides mixed results, there is no doubting that there is a raw and engrained passion that is infiltrated within the likes of ‘Don’t Save Me’ and ‘Better Off Alone’, such is the curiosity surrounding this band, one can only wonder how long they will be refined to the second stages at these sort of festivals.

After a cheeky dash to the main stage to catch pop punk superstars Fall Out Boy provide more nostalgia and abrasiveness than a Now!  That’s What I Call Music record from the 90s it is time to head back to the NME/BBC Radio 1 stage to witness Disclosure play host to what would be the most raucous and fantastic party all weekend.

With no space to manoeuvre in the tent, I along with a tonne of other people would have to watch on from outside in the pissing rain as brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence lay down an audio assault, which is comparable only to a freight train steaming through treacherous wind at 100 MPH, with a guest appearance from Aluna Francis on UK number two hit ‘White Noise’ and a spine tingling run down of breakthrough hit ‘Latch’ the boys leave Leeds absolutely astonished as to what they just witnessed.

For a lad from Glasgow, there is something pretty special about witnessing a Scottish band headline a massive festival outside Scotland.

From preparing what would become Blackened Sky demos in the basement of Stow College to closing massive festivals on a regular basis, there can be no doubting the juggernaut powers of Ayrshire’s own Biffy Clyro in 2013.

Simon Neil and co. bring with them an armoury of hits and singalongs, which would go unmatched for most of the weekend and rightfully so, when you consider the pensive genius in pop rock slabs such as ‘Bubbles’, ‘Biblical’ and that mad tune which the wee fella from X Factor knicked for a number one a few years ago.

Despite the rain:  the trio stay true to their ‘taps aff’ mentality as they run down a gauntlet of audio brilliance in nothing but their skinny jeans and infamous beards.

After two hours of charming and a brief audio power cut during ‘That Golden Rule’ which threatened to derail the bands big moment, tonight was the night Biffy Clyro were confirmed as National Heavyweights, not that they weren’t already of course.

Words: Chris Kelman


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