Posted by Steven Knowles.
Reviewed on 7th September 2015.
Live at Leeds Festival 2015 on Sunday, 30th August 2015
Leeds Festival 2015
Steven Knowles (@LeedsSteve77)
A look at some of the highlights of the annual camp-out, rock-out, bliss-out, pass-out shenanigans that take place in Bramham Park every August Bank Holiday weekend - the ever-wonderful Leeds Festival!
To kick off, a big plus was this year's weather. After a very rainy August, and with very wet Leeds Fests still very fresh in the memory, it was great to have a mainly dry, sometimes sunny Leeds 2015. Nice one, Mother Nature. She even treated us to a glorious sunset on the Sunday evening, embellished by four paragliders drifting overhead. Lovely stuff.
Onto the music then, and high points came thick and fast...
Early on Friday, Black Honey showed why they are causing quite a stir on the south coast, with a set that brought to life their 'televisions through the ages' still-picture videos and took in indie rock, surf, psychedelic wigging out and much in between. They boast an engaging front woman in Izzy Phillips and the drummer sporting a God Damn tee hints at their heavier undertones. Ones to watch.
I have to say, I hugely enjoyed Jamie T's main stage set as well. I like the fact he doesn't look like a rock star - the goofy foot stomping helping him to cement this notion. I like the fact that his punk-hop look at the slightly grubby underside of UK culture isn't quite like anything else (although simultaneously a bit like lots of things). I like the fact that, three albums in, his back catalogue is easily strong enough to pull off a prominent spot at a major festival. And pull it off it most certainly does - the fact the last four songs in the set are 'Sheila', 'If You Got the Money', 'Sticks & Stones' and 'Zombie', great tunes all, spanning each of his three studio releases - is testament to that. Well done Jamie Treays.
As we glide serenely into Saturday, quick mentions must go to Mariachi El Bronx for the best closing line from a front man after a final track ("never forget what you saw here today"), and to the phenomenal Abandoman for performing his/their fully improvised rap routines while in the presence of an audience member dressed as an inflatable vagina (really) and a stag do's best man who wanted, and repeatedly attempted, to strip naked. And also for having lovely white teeth.
In between, Philadelphia's The Districts became my new favourite band, which was nice.
Americana with a great voice, intricate instrumentation building to a screamed climax, in that respect bring to mind Two Gallants - one of my (old) favourite bands - with a whiff of The Strokes.
The singer's (Google...Google... Rob Grote) furrowed brow, harmonica strained, concentrating on sharing thoughts of girls and drinking and trying to make sense of it all, while belting out absolute ..er.. belters like '4th & Roebbling' and 'Funeral Beds' is a joy to behold. Great band.
Now. Mumford & Sons.
I know they seem to be being dragged into a 'hip to hate' area in some areas of popular culture (see Coldplay, although that's more deserved) and there is clearly a certain MOR element to what they do... BUT... they are just really bloody good here tonight.
The folky, bluegrass, banjo-infused and hugely successful early output has, famously, been usurped with a heavier rock sound for third album 'Wilder Mind' with different members taking on different instruments. The change of sound is something to be applauded, and has really boosted the band to the next level - the mix of the three albums produces a really strong headline show, and musically I think they are on their way to being a UK answer to the wonderful Arcade Fire. There are also hints of Fleetwood Mac in there too and, frankly, I think this is an act we should be proud of rather than one to castigate for not being authentic hillbillies.
Ah, Babymetal. Cartoonesque 'horror' characters playing dark metal, fronted by a trio of ...er.. Japanese schoolgirl types, cooing twee niceties over the top, to compliment eurovision-style choreographed dance moves. Really, there's not a lot else like Baby Metal. Gloriously, wonderfully ludicrous - but 25 minutes was plenty.
No less special, but slightly less ludicrous, are the fantastic Everything Everything. They pull off the very-difficult-these-days trick of being pretty much uncatagorisable. They are clearly a pop band, and a pop band on a real roll, a pop band on a roll in ace matching red, orange and pink patchwork baseball jackets, but they enjoy intricate indie credibility too. They are somehow both Elbow and Erasure, and much else besides, and in terms of their songwriting are in a real purple patch with current album 'Get To Heaven' already spawning three quite exquisite singles in 'Regret', 'Distant Past' and 'Spring/Sun/Winter/Dread'. They are perhaps the highlight of the highlights.
It was also nice that this year's secret act, Foals, played their not-very-secret gig in Leeds, as well as at Reading. It's not always been the case... unless previous secret acts were just a lot better hidden?!