Festival reviews are always a test of endurance for even the most patient of writers, and anyone who knows me knows patience is not my best quality. So this year to make it that little bit easier for me to write and for you to read, I’ve decided to split my review into three parts; Thursday & Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Here’s the first part: Thursday & Friday
After seven consecutive Leeds festivals I’d decided not to go this year. Seriously. 100%. That was until Weezer announced. So once again faced with a weekend of music, alcohol, and most importantly, good company, I made my now 8th annual treck to the Bramham Park site.
Now a regular feature for pre-festival shenanigans, the Dance To The Radio / BBC Introducing stage provided light relief after heavy Thursday drinking since arriving at 11am: with sets from Chickenhawk and Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. equally entertaining despite the massive juxtaposition between the two. Finished off with a screening of Shutter Island in the film tent, LF 2010 couldn’t have started better.
Rolo Tomassi provided a near deafening welcome to my Friday; the Sheffield quintet’s noise explosion shaking off any signs of a hangover from the night before. Then across at the main stage, it was hard not to feel sorry for The Futureheads who have on numerous occasions had much higher billings at this, and at many other festivals. Where their career stalled is hard to pinpoint; the likes of ‘Skip To The End’, ‘Beginning of the Twist’ and, the inevitable ‘ Hounds of Love’ are still better than your average indie anthem. Certainly a lot better than Band Of Skulls – their NME tent outing not quite convincing me they are worthy of their hype just yet.
Back to the main, and returning for a third consecutive year The Gaslight Anthem did what only a punk quartet dumped on a huge stage could do – play their most well known material and avoid that inescapable sense they would be infinitely better back in the Lock Up. It worked a little. But they still would have been infinitely better back in the Lock Up. Following on Modest Mouse quite aptly underwhelmed – with the omission of breakthrough track ‘Float On’ and the first sign of rain combining to put a real dampener on their set.
Under the not so subtle guise of The Rats (apparently the name by which their fan club members go by) Gallows provided the first comeback of the weekend, and had something to prove after disappointing second album Grey Britain. Mixing material from both efforts, there was an air of determination to Frank Carter and co – like a band fighting for their survival, like the band that released Orchestra of Wolves. Time will tell.
You can always count on The Cribs to deliver a set worthy of their homecoming. But more noticeable than the wealth of festival-friendly material the band have notched up over the years, is the presence this band now command; partly due to the ever cool Johnny Marr. If you squinted hard enough during ‘We Share The Same Skies’ you might have actually mistook them for Marr’s other band. The last few years have seen this band grow from local lads done good, to genuine festival favourites.
Onto this year’s next big come back, and The Libertines were suprisingly entertaining; and more shockingly, for all the right reasons. Taking to the stage to Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’ set the mood perfectly, before launching into a set that reminded everyone just why they became so highly praised before the drugs and the tabloids caught up with them. ‘Death On The Stairs’ was phenomenal, whilst ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’ and ‘Time For Heroes’ ensured those who missed out first time round finally got their Libertines moment.
Diving into the Lock Up tent, there was just time to catch The Get Up Kids bring their timeless blend of American soft /pop rock. Disappointingly the tent was only half full, but after the opening double of ‘Holiday’ and ‘I’m A Loner Dottie, A Rebel’, I was past caring. With the likes of ‘Close To Home’ and ‘ Red Letter Day’ getting later airings they quickly became the highlight of the day so far.
Sadly that honour was short lived, with Arcade Fire‘s main stage headline slot soon surpassing. At the start the turnout was worrying low, but as the band triumphantly mixed material from all three efforts, including the superb Blondie esque ‘Sprawl II’ and belter ‘Month of May’ from latest effort The Suburbs, the crowd soon picked up. There’s something oddly mysterious about watching the French Canadian collective – at times it’s hard not to see them as some sort of weird cult; constantly interchanging instruments as if all members are wired to the same brain. Weird, but by the encore of ‘Wake Up’ there’s no question Arcade Fire delivered an utterly mesmorising and accomplished set. Glastonbury bound for 2011? It’s about the only thing Arcade Fire have yet to achieve in their still short, but wonderful career.
Coming tomorrow: Did Thrice finally conquer the main stage? Did Kele resist the urge to re-hash Bloc Party tracks? Just how amazing were Weezer? Oh, and a band called Blink 182 who you might have heard of.