Friday, 10 May 2013

Live at Leeds

Despite, or perhaps because of previous experience, I am drinking lager in the morning. Don't try this at home kids, it is not to be condoned and will almost definitely lead face-first towards embarrassment, amnesia & never-agains. But, if your home town will insist on hosting all-day music festivals on sunny bank-holidays, it would be rude not to.

Saturday begins for many with hangover already in full flow, Live at Leeds having opened the night before with The Unconference and a trio of gigs, from local garage-gothers Black Moth at The Wardrobe, homegrown good-timers Hope & Social at The Brudenell, and teenage 60s impersonators The Strypes at The Cockpit.

So, as afternoon strikes, Milo is supposed to ease us in gently with two fine Leeds troubadours, Lone Wolf and Sam Barrett. Except the venue is immediately packed and the former's atmospherics are less a polite introduction and more a brooding and rousing wake-up call.

Continuing the theme is Harry George Johns at Holy Trinity. A man of many a kick-ass heavy band, Johns solo is infinitely quieter yet equally raw. His heartbreaking human tales are openly touching and made all the more cathartic in this ideal church setting.

Quite the opposite approach at an overcrowded Academy, The Pigeon Detectives are shallow, unoriginal, easy to criticise and bloody enjoyable. Typically leaping and kicking, their infectious energy rouses the rabble and more than a few cool kids accidentally catch themselves joining in with the terrace singalongs.

Next, Post War Glamour Girls prove why they have a strong Stylus home crowd behind them with a set wound tight by creepy-catchy tunes and menacing eruptions in a half-hour that blasts by.

At the Met, newly-hyped London Grammar are an icy presence that wrap an anticipating audience in the warmth of their slowly-building songs. Impressive vocals keep their dangerously sparse approach enchanting and appreciated.

The buzz only increases at The Cockpit where The 1975 draw an astonishingly huge crowd that surprises even themselves. Those that get past the queues become a sweating surging mass treated to a passionate pop performance I cannot see.

A more predictable rush back to Stylus to see the next big thing, or the last big thing, punk-grrls Savages. The edgy atmosphere intensifies when the sound repeatedly buggers up. Fortunately, this makes an angry band angrier and potential disaster becomes a unified rock'n'roll riot.

I miss current big things AlunaGeorge and Rudimental at The Academy because hours of lager & loudness in darkness & daytime make a head woozy and a curry necessary. Apologies to all offended by my subsequent stench, although the day's various dubious odours by now overwhelmed everywhere.

In an array of excellent headliners, I catch the start of The Walkmen's wonderful garage sermons then join the Refectory throng for Everything Everything's jittery rhythms, complex structures and sugar-rush harmonies. The day ends suitably dancing badly and grinning moronically.

There were complaints of queues and clashes but these are inevitable at such an event and, it could be argued, add to its vitality. With surprise shows at shops and cinemas, Sunday's Millennium Square concert, Monday's football tournament and Saturday's showcase, Live at Leeds has once again proved itself to be an inventive, eclectic, organised and essential success. Well worth drinking lager in the morning for.

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