Live at Live At Leeds 2015 on Saturday, 2nd May 2015
Becca Stubbs rounds up our coverage of this year's Live At Leeds.
Local boys Clay kick off our Live At Leeds 2015 venture at Belgrave Music Hall. The place is packed so we can assume that Clay must be doing something right to have generated so much interest, but when the band emerge - all retro sports gear, boyband-worthy harmonies and THREE synthesisers - we begin to wonder if LAL's claim that they "span multiple genres" might just be a polite way of saying they're actually a bit of a mess. But lo and behold it all begins to make sense as the band quickly hit their stride. At the mid-point of the set "Japan" is just brilliant and "Sun Dance" is a triumphant finale to half an hour of glorious, vibrant indie pop. That'll teach me for trying to pigeonhole this bunch of talented newcomers.
Misty Miller has been enjoying much praise and admiration from high places in recent years, so I had high hopes for this one, evidently as did many others, judging by the impressive crowd assembled at Leeds University's Stylus bar. We were not disappointed. The simplicity and sheer quality of Miller's output sets her apart from many of her contemporaries; there are no gimmicks here, just Miller (on vocals and guitar) and her backing band consisting of the classic rock and roll line-up of drummer, bassist and guitarist, whom she nonchalantly introduces by first name only, in another pared-back moment of cool confidence that comes with the territory when you're doing what you were born to do. They thunder through a set of perfectly crafted pop rock gems climaxing with the angst-ridden stomper Next To You and heartbreaking lament Best Friend. Breezy, effortless and yet somehow still strained with raw emotion, Miller's vocal soars and her lyrics are so honest and eloquent you'd need to have lived a sheltered youth not to feel every word of her odes to modern sadness: "I washed my hair for you / I shaved my legs for you too / You wouldn't care if I was lying there dead next to you". Yep, we've all been there.
Jagaara take to the stage at Nation Of Shopkeepers where the view is severely restricted unless you're right on the front row. But it's ok because you'd be just as well closing your eyes anyway and allowing yourself to be transported to the middle of a festival field on a hazy summer evening, for this London trio are the embodiment of that cool, It-girl, festival vibe. Tonight's LAL performance is dreamily atmospheric; their moody, guitar-infused electronica sweeps and swells around the venue, intoxicating the audience who can't help but sway along. Or maybe that's just booze; it is 10pm!
Dutch Uncles seem to be a fixture of recent LAL events so it made sense to check them out at the Town Hall. The massive audience bounced along appreciatively to every minute of a set choc-full of the quirky, fizzing, intelligently-put-together-yet-still-accessible pop belters that make Dutch Uncles so unique and so loved. Personally, it all feels a bit "trying too hard to be clever" for my liking, but evidently I'm in a minority. As a footnote, if the O2 had suffered sound issues earlier in the day then the Town Hall was visited by a less destructive gremlin cousin, with the lights momentarily cutting out towards the end of the set, plunging the room into darkness. Where Dry The River had been charming in the face of adversity, Dutch Uncles' diva strop, though mildly amusing, did nothing to help their cause.
Clay are a four piece, Leeds-based outfit formed in early 2014