punk wins over the city at Live At Leeds

Live At Leeds 2009 review

published: Wed 6th May 2009

Friday 1st to Sunday 3rd May 2009
various venues in Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3AD, England MAP
last updated: Thu 16th Apr 2009

Recently Leeds has become something of a Mecca for music. Its little wonder then that Live at Leeds organisers have managed to shift almost 3,000 tickets for today’s Northern version of the Camden Crawl. This years' festival boasts a bigger line-up, more venues, more punters - and as a result, more wretched queuing – but more on that later.

With venues spread across the city, packed with the best line-up this festival has seen, an excited eFestivals arrive to see our first band of the day Tigers That Talked playing an early slot at Joseph's Well, in a deep, dark pit of a back-room that smells strongly of damp. The band are nodding in all the right directions with dustings of Arcade Fire and The Cure scattered among their dark-hearted, folk-tinged euphoric pop. The likes of '23 Fears' and 'Holy Saturday, Gloomy Sunday' have all the potential to make for an electrifying performance and despite obvious influences; they have carved their own niche sound. But puzzlingly, today they put in a somewhat stoic set lacking in energy and meaning.

Being followed by Leeds most glorious band, Wild Beasts doesn't help of course. Taking forty minutes to set up, then having to start the second song of the set again does nothing to stop them being an utter delight. Hayden Thorpe's derisive falsetto, contrasting with Tom Fleming's own powerful vocals are the perfect accompaniment for the band's eccentric sound. Proving to be one of the days' hot tickets, Wild Beasts could have easily filled out one of the larger venues and it's no surprise that the 'Well quickly reaches capacity with huge queues of people waiting outside.

Taking a short walk over to the Holy Trinity Church, a new venue to this year's programme, it's time to see Alessi's Ark weave her celestial magic. After the dingyness of Joseph's Well, the brightness of the church is eye watering. Easily the city's most beautiful venue, the Holy Trinity still operates as a church for Sunday services meaning inside is all idols and high ceilings and stained glass windows. It's the perfect place for eighteen year old Alessi to sing her charming songs about ribbons, lakes and animals in front of a large audience sat on pews.

Hotfooting it over to the Cockpit, Sky Larkin, one of the days' biggest draws, are playing to a predictably rammed crowd. We would have expected them to be further up the bill today. Whipping out one pop-rock gem after another, drummer Nestor gurning all the while as though constipated, the likes of 'Beeline', and 'Fossil-I' are raucously tight golden-grunge.

After almost pulling a calf muscle sprinting back to Joseph's Well, we arrive in time to see Pulled Apart by Horsess destroy the place with their shambolic chaos. One of their sets pretty much guarantees a good time with over-the-top theatrics, guitar wankery and songs like 'I Punched a Lion in the Throat' and 'High Dive, Slow Dive, Swan Dive' and inevitably, and brilliantly of course, it doesn’t take long for all hell to break loose.

Although the whole day has been dogged by persistent queuing and overcrowded venues, the tailback outside Leeds Met is so huge that it distinctively reeks of piss. Snaking right past the venue and down towards the nearest hospital, a line-up of Bombay Bicycle Club, Dinosaur Pile-up, Grammatics and the Maccabees begins to look distinctively unlikely. Not even a flash of an eFestivals pass proves successful and without further ado we head down to the Cockpit to see Wintermute.

This Oxford-based band are all about spiky, yet playful hooks and eclectic vocals a la Foals and At the Drive In. Showcasing songs from their punchy debut Robot Works, singer Dan Howard looks like he can't decide whether to have a heart attack or burst into tears. At times the sight of his scrunched up face is a little over the top, but hey at least he's putting the effort in.

The fact that half the Leeds population is stuck in a queue outside the Met means that this venue's headliners, Future of the Left, start their set playing to a room that is much, much emptier than it should be. Not that they even remotely care. Comically disdainful of everything and everyone, the band rip into the incendiary 'Arming Eritrea'. As the crowd and intensity swells, you can see the veins and muscles working in singer Andy Falkous's neck. By the end of 'Manchasm' the pits have opened and the room have joined the band in inciting a riot. More fool the skinny-jeaned indie-lites stood outside the Met – tonight was the night where the punk won over the city.
review by: Dannii Leivers

Friday 1st to Sunday 3rd May 2009
various venues in Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3AD, England MAP
last updated: Thu 16th Apr 2009

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