Live at Leeds Festival 2015 on Friday, 28th August 2015
When The Gaslight Anthem take to the main stage and launch into Handwritten, their fans are ready for them - rumours abound that this may be the last tour, thanks to liberal use of that time honoured burnout phrase 'indefinite hiatus' in recent months. There's little sign of any fatigue though, and if this is their final set, it's a good one to go out on. Against a backdrop of the cover for 2014's Get Hurt, the New Jersey quintet rip through a selection of their finest examples of sweeping, small town Americana. Highlights include Howl (on which Brian Fallon sounds more like Brandon Flowers than any much touted Springsteen comparison) and The '59 Sound.
Skinner and Kit Trigg both do well and pull in their own crowds plus a number of passing stragglers on the BBC Introducing stage. Skinner, a Yorkshire native making her Leeds Festival debut, offers an intriguing mix of electronica, hip hop and a soulful voice that recalls Anastasia and Amy Winehouse. As her upcoming single Dangerous Game jumpstarts the crowd, it's easy to see why this rising star has been recently signed to northern label Anonymous Records. Kit Trigg are another duo riffing of the old school simplistic blues of The Black Keys, and while that style has been aped by many (we're looking at you Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher) it is at least a formula that's very hard to mess up. It's still a primal and engaging sound, as safe in the hands of Kit Trigg as it ever was as they channel The White Stripes, Led Zeppelin and even - in the howling tones of their eponymous vocalist - Jeff Buckley. It's a fresh and engaging set, and these guys too are ones to watch.
There's more main stage action from local heroes The Cribs, who deliver the best and arguably most anticipated show of the day. The great thing about The Cribs is that they hark back to the days of important bands - think The Replacements, The Clash and the Ramones - but manage to sound unmistakably like themselves. They start as they mean to go on, charging through a blazing, captivating set that begins with Mirror Kissers and ends with recent single Pink Snow. There's barely a pause for breath in between, and the set leans heavily on newer material and 2007's breakout album Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever. There's even a treat just for 'all the old school Cribs fans' (judging by the cheers, that's everybody) in the form of Another Number from their 2004 debut. They leave the stage as they took to it - full of confidence and buoyed by the fevered admiration of a hometown crowd - and it's not hard to imagine them topping the main stage bill one day soon.
The Festival Republic stage is the place to close out Friday night for those underwhelmed or confused by The Libertines main stage headline slot. Manchester Orchestra's appearance is one that's short but sweet, drawing mostly from their second and fourth albums to give fans a taste of their brooding, melodic sound. Set closer Cope is the highlight, splicing Death Cab For Cutie with Black Sabbath's Iron Man and adding a dash of Noah And The Whale for good measure. The man with the top spot is Frank Turner, and when he jokes that Leeds is 'his festival' you can hardly blame him given that he's shown up almost ten times on the trot. This time he's out on his own - an acoustic guitar and a tent full of faithfuls are all he needs as he airs songs from his most recent record, Positive Songs For Negative People. You'd be hard pressed to find any negativity here tonight though and the crowd are with their man right from the off, singing as passionately as Frank throughout the evening, particularly on the thankfully resurrected music lovers anthem The Ballad Of Me And My Friends and almost set closer I Still Believe. Turner may be carrying the torch passed to him by Billy Bragg, but he ends the night with a rapturously received cover of Queen's Somebody To Love, paying homage to the festivals rock roots and the hope that maybe rock and roll will save us after all.