Live At Leeds returned for 2017, more expansive and with a more impressive line-up than ever. The one day urban festival took over the premier live music venues in Leeds for a day packed with a wide variety of music, including many local acts alongside big name headliners.
The festivities began early, and contradictorily, with a midday set from Dusk at Belgrave Music Hall. It was great to see the venue packed out for both the opening slot and also in support of a local band. The bustling crowd lapped up Dusk’s unique brand of ethereal electronica. Lead singer Holly Matthews provided a mesmeric and spellbinding performance as she swayed across the stage and belted out an impressive range of dexterous vocals. Her range was showcased during “Constellations”, a track which also shows the rest of the bands wide ranging influences and creative flair. Keys player Sarah Hayes creates delicate and tender tones before ramping up into and explosive finale backed by a pounding rhythm section.
Then a brisk walk all the way up to The Lending Room at The Library was made thoroughly worthwhile by another local act Chest Pains. Another large crowd had gathered early in the day to witness some aggressive punk delivered with a smile. Chest Pains don’t seem to take themselves too seriously but they still manage to supply hard hitting and edgy material. They took the opportunity to show off some brand new material which sounded even more impressive than their existing repertoire. Their high-octane set concluded with lead singer Sam Robinson pacing through the crowd as he completed his final rant and chorus.
It was then time to head to Leeds’s premier independent venue Brudenell Social Club, as their Games Room was about to host Lea Porcelain all the way from Berlin. Their style feels like The National are experimenting with synthesizers. Dark and atmospheric Lea Porcelain filled the dimly lit room with their swirling indie-techno soundscapes.
I then had a gap in my schedule so decided to pick a gig at random, the universe put my finger on IDER at Belgrave Music Hall. They turned out to be a gem of a find, and I was not alone in discovering them with yet another capacity audience in attendance. The London based pop duo had the crowd hooked with their inspiring beats and moving harmonies. Their big choruses had everyone fired up while their moments of tender beauty had the crowd stood in silent appreciation. IDER finished their captivating set with a mesmeric acapella track with combined rap style vocals and delicate harmonies.
Next up I headed to Key Club for the set I was looking forward to the most in the entire line-up, Idles. The venue was packed to the rafters for one of the most hyped bands on the roster. This easily had to be the most rowdy and eager crowd of the whole day. They crowd surfed lead singer Joe Talbot’s microphone stand straight to the back of the room, never to be seen again. The thriving audience then became a vessel for the band to repeatedly crowd surf on, the guitarist dove into us during “Exeter” and Talbot surfed from front to back during an energetic finale. A member of the audience also invaded the stage, when Talbot asked him what he did for a living the response was that he worked at Sainsburys, to which the Idles lead singer responded with “not all heroes wear capes”. During the course of the slot they played the majority of their critically acclaimed album “Brutalism”, highlights included “Well Done”, “Mother”, and “ Stendhal Syndrome”.
Penultimately it was time to check out Honeyblood up at Stylus. The Scottish trash-pop two-piece attracted a huge following, and from start to finish it was easy to see why. The duo were sparky and energetic from the beginning, which in turn had the crowd worked up into a frenzy. Tracks like “Ready For The Magic” and “Super Rat” showed just what a ferocious and feisty prospect they are live.
This year’s Live At Leeds concluded with a headline set from local heroes Wild Beasts at Leeds Beckett University Student Union. The Yorkshire lads treated us to a set equally mixed with new and old material. This was summed up when they opened with “Big Cat”, from their latest album “Boy King”, and immediately followed it with fan’s favourite and classic “We Still Got The Taste Dancin’ On Our Tongues”. Wild Beasts seemed to be loving the experience of headlining a festival which clearly holds a special place in their hearts. However much fun the band were having it was nothing in comparison to the crowd, who went crazy for tracks like “Hooting & Howling” and “Tough Guy”.
This was the 11th year of Live At Leeds and on this evidence the festival continues to grow and evolve.
Pictures courtesy of Live At Leeds