Justice top the first night of Leeds Festival with a massive high

Leeds Festival 2012 review

By Anne Chiang / Chris Mathews | Published: Wed 29th Aug 2012


Friday 24th to Sunday 26th August 2012
Bramham Park, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS23 6ND, England MAP
£197.50 for a weekend ticket, £85 any day
Daily capacity: 79,999
Last updated: Mon 20th Aug 2012

The highlight of this year's festival circuit arrives. The Reading and Leeds festival is here and pulls in the post Olympic spirit with everyone upbeat and ready for a party. Running from stage to stage in the hopes of catching as many new / old / reformed bands in the process. With freebies of food and drink offered, there seems to be a more open and customer friendly feeling from festival organiser Melvin Benn down to those working on site. The keep it simple attitude, just bring the best bands in the world and as many people together as possible seems to work.

around the festival site (2)
The Friday at Leeds is wellied-up with forecasts of rain and looked set to be a wash out. The surprising special guest at Leeds was an unpredictable appearance from a great ball of fire in the sky. Whether it would stay for the weekend was something for the bookies though. News from the no-show at other festivals across the uk brought grateful smiles and ponchos close at hand.

Pulled Apart By Horses
The homegrown talent started the festival with an excitedly bouncy set from Pulled Apart By Horses. The thrill of opening up their backyard festival on the Main stage was unmistakable. Whether or not their lion punching antics might have been better served further south was a story in itself. Soaking in the scene, Band Of Skulls rocked in shortly after greeting fans with their more rounded songs.

When onto a good trick, stick with it. Eagles Of Death Metal strutted on next. The desert infused groove and theatrical posing stops short of the Panther's shtick but keeps the crowd spreading across the main field. Finding some food to eat is never a struggle but finding good food is another. Wishing there was a Weatherspoons 20 mins down the road as in Reading, coffee made do. Stumbling into the Lock Up stage I caught Frank Turner launching himself into the crowd to the sound of Nirvana, it must be Mongol Horde. A little confused, it was over before I could really take it in. Over on Festival Republic Stage, Iceage sing out loud their young audacity to anyone who venture in. The screaming thunders out from their calm bodies.

The Joy Formidable
Tribes do their thing over at the NME tent and gain a passionate reception, for more than just 'We Were Children'. The Camden quartet have certainly pushed their way through to the front of new music. Having missed their set at last year's festival, I couldn't miss The Joy Formidable again. With a driving repetitive bass beat, they balance upbeat dreaminess with shoegazey instrumentation.

Bring out the whiskey, The Mark Lanegan Band are next. Losing any remaining teens the NME tent suddenly aged, in a salt encrusted husk of a barrel. Having recently only worked in collaborations, the songs on 'Blues Funeral' sound his most personal to date. With that, his on-stage introspection grew in kind. The most noticeable difference live was the skillful musicianship behind all the songs. Beautiful guitar melodies and live drumming rise above the vocals giving breadth to each of the dusty songs of distant loss.

Zulu Winter offer some jangly guitar pop to bring back reality then SBTRKT really kick it back in with some techno. Overly bassy the delicacies in the music are lost in favour of getting the tent dancing. In need of an energy boost the need for food takes over.

Gambling on some noodles the realization kicks in how many Leeds based bands are here as 'I Predict A Riot' rattles out in the distance. The Kaiser Chiefs are making good work of stirring up the home crowd into a frenzy with their catchy lyrics and sing-along choruses. The Black Keys followed up with their big garage rock sound. Having added a bassist and keyboard player to the line up to give a full studio sound to their last record it made sense to tour with it. The additions made for a better reproduction of 'Brothers' album tracks but their previous material lost some of its edge.

Foo Fighters
The Foo Fighters had the first big band slot of the weekend and it doesn’t get much bigger than the Foo's. Mixing up the old and the new they throw in a classic between the new material and still find the time to noodle on with solos and entertaining themselves. After hearing enough of the classics - 'All my life', 'my hero', 'learn to fly' and 'Generator' - to keep me happy it was time for some Justice.

The well-known Marshall stacks lined the stage and part of me wondered if anything else in their set had just remained the same as old. Fortunately this was not the case. Nearly every tune was reworked to fit seamlessly into a compressed tightly packaged rework. All the hits were there in part, 'Waters of Nazareth', 'D.A.N.C.E', 'We are your friends' etc but the overall sound had progressed to their more developed style on 'Audio, Video, Disco'. For DVNO the cross even retracted away to reveal a keyboard, which Gaspard Augé played for dramatic effect. Unnecessary and over the top, maybe, but these Parisians are taking the stage that Daft Punk left behind and finished the first night of the festival on a massive high.

review by: Anne Chiang / Chris Mathews

photos by: Chris Mathews / Rob Matheson

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