Live at Leeds 2012

Now in its seventh year the Live at Leeds weekender continues to get bigger and better with people flocking from all over the country to take part in something rather special. With a range of acts some well known and some up and comers there was no time to stand still and stare at the schedule as our Lee Mullin found out.

Live at Leeds is growing year on year and the fun was already in full swing at the Cockpit at 2.30 in the afternoon with non stop music between two rooms. The ‘Garnets’ were warming up a rammed Cockpit 3 with a subtle female vocal which was sometimes drowned out by her band but a great way to lead into the festival.

A quick trip downstairs for Canada’s, Hooded Fang, was immediately opened with recent hit ‘Clap’, a modern Beach Boys mash up. Continuing their surf pop crusade you couldn’t help but be captivated by the drummers hair that had a life of its own. Hot stepping across to the 2nd half of I Like Trains, the Leeds post rockers drew in a huge daytime crowd at the O2 academy. Their sound suits the bigger stage, and as one of the cities most underrated exports you gather that they’ll be playing these sized venues more regularly outside the city.

Bastille at Leeds Met were the most pop of the day. Using lots of backing tracks took the edge off a live performance that reminded me of a boy band rather than an indie one. Back at the O2 academy, underground act, Jessie Ware was a pleasant surprise. A powerful soulful voice cut through the minimalist post dubstep backing.

The hairiest act award surely goes to Dan Mangan and his band. A stunning setting in the city centre Holy Trinity Church had the peace broken by a wall of noise from the Vancouver act, louder than anything this place of worship has seen. With Willie Mason style vocals and a range of influences from folk to mariachi he was easily one of the highlights of the day for the crowd in the packed church.

Staying in the church for hotly tipped Lucy Rose there was a very different atmosphere. The delicate singer songwriter had to battle with the background noise of chatting festival goers who often drowned her out, causing restless fans to shush the back of the room with little effect. Given the right crowd on tour next month she’s likely to win many new fans though.

Gross Magic took to the tiny Nation of Shopkeepers stage with their massively distorted vocals and punky short tunes. At first it seems like a joke on the crowd, but the further through the set you get, the more you realise, it just works.

Lianne La Havas appeared in the BBC Sound of 2012 short list which was a mixed blessing as she was obvious choice to move into Marina and the Diamonds headline slot after a last minute cancellation. As a relative unknown she didn’t pull the crowd Marina could have but getting the opportunity to play to woo a larger crowd with her charm at the centre of the festival has its plus points too. Coming out on her own with a single spotlight and guitar she captivated the room with two tracks including single No Room For Doubt before a full band came on to rattle out tunes from her upcoming album as well as popular tracks Age, Forget and Everything Everything cover final form.

As one of Sheffield’s biggest exports of recent years, Reverend and the Makers are on the comeback trail and formidable frontman Jon McClure opened his return to a late night Faversham geeing the crowd up for what was to come with Open Your Window. The venue was completely packed with a large queue of disappointed punters outside, whilst inside Jon and his Makers rattled off tune after  tune from his first two albums mixing in some new tracks from their upcoming third album. Those who did miss out probably felt the ground outside shake as everyone in the audience bounced their way through Bassline and Heavyweight Champion of the World.  A customary post gig outside acoustic set to a couple of hundred people featured Special’s and Bob Marley covers and an acknowledgement of Jon’s team, Sheffield Wednesday’s promotion earlier that day.

In two months time the band will be supporting Red Hot Chili Peppers at Knebworth and whilst McClure exudes confidence, he does seem  less sure of the new tracks. As a showman there are few to compare and as he tours the crowd reaction will likely dictate how the new tracks are received, from tonight we might be hearing alot more from the Reverend again.

Live at Leeds brought a mass of action to the city, with queues backing up for music lovers just attempting to see a glimpse their favourite artists. Roll on 2013, we’re certainly up for more of a fun fuelled weekend!