Live at Leeds Festival 2008 on Sunday, 24th August 2008
A night of torrential rain hasn't dampened anyone's spirits, although the ground is a little muddier than it has been over the previous 48 hours. Leeds' i concur open up the Sunday festivities with a strong set on the BBC Introducing Stage. The crowd show their appreciation, and so they should, as the set is full of intricate layers of post-rock loveliness. Plus the sun is drying everyone out... yay!
With the early afternoon sun now shining strong it seems appropriate that we head over to the Main Stage for British Sea Power. Sadly, the ethereal beauty of their well-crafted epics drift off on the breeze under the curse of the Main Stage volume button still being stuck on about 4; I'm towards the back and if it wasn't for the big screens and the fervent branch-waving from the army of fans down the front you'd be hard-pushed to realise the band were playing at all. Which is a shame.
Onwards! I may not have known much about Santogold before today's appearance on the NME / Radio One Stage, but I surprise myself by not only recognising them, but locating the gusto to sing along to more than half of Santi White's songs. I blame repeat plays on Radio One for the whole song-lodging-brain-back-of situation I find myself in. Luckily, in this case, it's all good. For the next 30 minutes, we're dancing and singing along to the sunglasses-donned Brooklyn one on tracks like 'Lights Out' and 'Creator'.
If I could bundle up just one fresh new band from the weekend, put them together in a box labelled Special Package (with some boiled sweets of course: that seems the norm these days if my review sack full of demo CDs is anything to go by) and deliver them to a long-lost friend as a surprise audio treat then Welsh rockers Attack! Attack! would be that band. There's a small army of fans watching them on the BBC Introducing Stage, all with their arms aloft in the air singing along at all the right moments too - the "1! 2! 3! Hey!" role play debacle got a little comical though - so things look good for the four-piece from South Wales.
I'd probably throw White Lies into that package too. While not particularly new, it's certainly well done, and their Editors / Interpol sound is well worth a five-minute listen - their mid-afternoon Festival Republic Stage set-closer 'Death' would be a good starting point.
Prior to White Lies are Twisted Wheel, and back-to-back on the Festival Republic Stage the two bands slot into the line-up perfectly. The raucous single 'You Stole The Sun' gets the tent bouncing and closes a memorable half hour of up-beat, frantic indie rock from the Manchester trio. 'Racket' isn't just the name of a song, you know.
I was gutted last year when I missed Mississippi bluesman Seasick Steve. I cannot remember now which schmindie pop band I bumped him off for in 2007 but I'll not make that mistake again! An hour of storytelling enfolds, aided by the three-string guitar and the one-stringed Diddley Bow. A true entertainer and an inspiration to many - "old is sexy", he claims as he struts around the stage before inviting a young girl to the stage to serenade.
From waking up - when I struggled to tick more than two or three bands from the entire day's line-up worthy of leaving my tent for - Sunday is turning out to be a great day.
Out and about again, and the Festival Republic tent is now the fullest I've seen it all weekend. Thousands mass for Florida five-piece Black Kids and there's little wonder why. Uplifting boy-girl disco pop on a sunny summer's day, catchy tunes and choruses to sing along too in festival tent style: "Friday night and I ain't got nobody / So what's the use of pulling a shape?". Sentiments indeed, but as I look around me shapes are being pulled everywhere.
Leeds Festival wouldn't be the same if Flogging Molly weren't playing, so over we go to the Lock Up Stage for some good-time Celtic rock and roll, before meandering the site for a few hours soaking up the atmosphere as the sun sets.
Sunday night headliners on the NME / Radio One Stage are Manic Street Preachers, who truly don't seem, nor sound, to be twenty years young as a band: "It's really difficult to cram 20 years of hits into an hour", explains Nicky Wire - although a cynic may suggest dropping 'Pennyroyal Tea' from your set. Yet such a criticism would be a low blow as the set is a thoroughly entertaining, quick-fire blast of all the band's highs - and lows - including tracks penned by the "genius Richey Edwards". And for the older crowd member (read: me) the fact that a good proportion of the hour's material comes from the 'Generation Terrorists' through 'Holy Bible' era is a welcomed move. The audience is enthusiastic throughout and it's testament to the band's continuing appeal.
So, come 11pm Sunday and Leeds Festival 2008 is over. And luckily, unlike last year, it's not pouring down with rain as I leave the site smiling like a giddy little kid. Bit tired though (like a little kid at 11pm ought to be).
Alt-americana / Post rock.