Posted by Rebecca Atkinson.
Reviewed on 2nd September 2011.
Live at Leeds Festival 2011 on Friday, 26th August 2011
It's early afternoon in the stupidly big NME/Radio 1 tent and Cage The Elephant are bringing the sunshine to a very soggy Bramham Park with their Kentucky fried rock 'n' roll. Old favourites like opener 'In One Ear' and 'Tiny Little Robots' are well received with their chunky riffs prompting stage diving and crowd surfing galore as front man Matt Shultz prowls the stage clearly having an infectiously good time. Their new album was released to little fanfare and the new material is met mainly by blank faces, that said the biggest sing along of the set greets latest single 'Shake Me Down' which bodes well for the five piece in the future. An old editor once sneered at me for proclaiming my fondness of Cage The Elephant but their performance today is grungey, contagious and fantastically witty in places making for the feel good set of the day and I am certainly not the only one who thinks so.
Over on the main stage Enter Shikari do their best impression of Skrillex meets The Streets meets that episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. where Ross plays the synthesiser keyboard. At times Enter Shikari's performance feels like a parody of itself with badly worked faux dubstep sections and Rou Reynolds crawling around onstage looking demented. It really is a shame because there was a time pre Take To The Skies when the band (especially live) felt cutting edge and extraordinarily relevant to people of a certain age (as the mass clap-along during 'Sorry You're Not A Winner' proves) but that time has most certainly passed and the future now looks a tricky one for the St. Albans boys.
Mid-afternoon Warpaint take to the NME/Radio 1 stage for an ethereal siren like performance. The mesmerising layered sound and tight vocal harmonies are at their best during a stunning rendition of fan favourite 'Billie Holiday'. There are no particularly weak songs but they do choose to play a lot of the less familiar material and some of the beauty of their reverby intricate sound is lost in such a large setting making for a mid-set lull. However, they close on a wonderfully sprawling and well worked version of "hit" 'Elephants' redeeming themselves and reminding everyone of how effortlessly cool they sound on record.
It seems a little cheap now to compare Scottish alt rock bands to Biffy Clyro but in Twin Atlantic's case the similarities are blatant. The two have long been touring buddies and musically they are profoundly indebted to each other's sounds with big hooks, off kilter rhythms and accented vocals. There is a lot of applause for 'Free' which has had a great deal of MTV and Kerrang! airplay recently but they don't feel like a great band until they hit the material from 2009's Vivarium. 'You're Turning Into John Wayne' is especially good as its stomping guitar and provocative lyrics lead to a mass singalong and let's face it who doesn't like to see a hundred people from Yorkshire hollering to a song about America in a Scottish accent?
There is a disappointing turnout for Elbow and some of the set does feel quite pedestrian prompting one person nearby to describe them as the musical equivalent of a blancmange. Yet this seems a little unfair as there are some really excellent songs in their arsenal. A rousing rendition of 'Grounds For Divorce' gets the crowd going and final number 'One Day Like This' may not be as epic as at Glastonbury but it still feels like a 'moment'. The orchestral arrangement is great, Garvey's baritone vocal is moving and his onstage persona entertaining, he truly is a real northern front man, plus he takes a pop at Bono which is always endearing!