Leeds Festival 2011
On the Friday of Leeds Festival 2011 the bands started, and so did the extremely heavy rain! Due to this a lot of bands were missed, the most important to me personally being Taking Back Sunday, but soon the rain wasn’t even an issue as everyone just had too much fun to care!
The first band was Enter Shikari, who regrettably were rather disappointing, although some factors were not the band’s fault. There was a noticeable lack of atmosphere throughout the whole set which is unusual for a Shikari gig, but favourite songs such as “Sorry, You’re Not a Winner” were definitely a crowd pleaser. Unfortunately the band’s newest songs were nothing in comparison, and it is clear that they have discovered Dubstep which is now being completely over used, and in my opinion I think Enter Shikari are going downhill. However, on a positive note it is safe to say that the band does rock the stage, and vocalist Rou Reynolds was very energetic throughout the entirety of their set.
Although I didn’t see their whole set, Panic! At The Disco were brilliant live. Brendon Urie’s stage presence and vocals really brought the band to life, and I personally was disappointed that they weren’t given a spot on the Main Stage, and instead had to settle for the NME stage which was packed with fans and many watched outside on screens for lack of room. They saved one of their biggest hits “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” for the end which sent the crowd wild, but unfortunately they then continued to perform a newer song that was clearly not recognised by many fans, and I believe it to be a mistake as they then didn’t finish on an ultimate high.
New artist Ed Sheeran has risen to fame only recently, and filled the Festival Republic Stage with fans screaming the words to his biggest hit, “A Team”, which was incredible live as his vocals really are amazing. I only caught the end of this set so heard his biggest hit followed by his new single “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You” which livened the crowd up following the slow song played previously, and left the crowd buzzing and wanting more.
Now we come to Friday’s headline act, Muse, and the first word that springs to mind is simply…WOW! They have been titled ‘Best Live Band in the World’ which is definitely a lot to live up to, but I honestly have nothing negative to say about their performance, it was flawless. They had unbelievable stage presence which created an amazing crowd atmosphere, excellent instrumental playing, and Matt Bellamy delivered incredible vocals. Muse blew the crowd away with favourite songs such as ‘Starlight’, ‘Supermassive Black Hole’, ‘Knights of Cydonia’ and so many more. I have always liked the band but have never considered myself to be a massive fan, but even I came away from their set completely blown away and still now cannot believe I’ve seen the amazing Muse live!
The bands started for me on Saturday when I was asked to go with a friend to go see Foster The People, who I was not very familiar with. However when they played their most famous and recognisable song, ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ I was definitely glad I went. They were excellent live and had a set full of brilliant songs that I’m sure will soon be big hits, and discovering them at Leeds Fest has made me really get into them and listen to their other songs, and I’d recommend them to any fans of the Indie Rock genre.
Next on the Main Stage were The Offspring, who created a really lively atmosphere amongst the crowd and were thoroughly enjoyable to watch, especially when they played some of their biggest hits. The quality of their live performances is still high even though they’ve been around for over 20 years and the crowd went wild for hits such as ‘I Want You Bad’, ‘Why Don’t You Get A Job?’, ‘Can’t Get My Head Around You’ and the biggest response was probably for ‘Pretty Fly For A White Guy’, because even people who claim not to be fans of The Offspring must like that song, it’s a classic! Their energy and top quality set made it impossible to stand still and not sing, and I’m so glad I’ve seen them live.
The next headline act 30 Seconds To Mars then followed, and although they were on top form I was rather disappointed with them live. Jared Leto’s vocals were exceptional and they gained a good response from the crowd, but there seemed to be as much talking as there was singing. Every time the crowd were buzzed after a song Jared Leto would talk for about 5 minutes each time and personally, I started not paying attention and had to hype myself up for the next song. This was unfortunate as their set was really good but I wanted to hear him singing not talking so much! Overall their set was brilliant, especially ‘The Kill’ which was excellent with Jared starting the song acoustically to get the crowd singing before a big breakdown, and I have to also give him praise for being the only frontman I saw to get off stage and get involved with the crowd!
Next I saw a band I’d been really excited to see, White Lies, who started off an amazing set with ‘Farewell to the Fairground’ and carried on being on top form throughout. The atmosphere in the crowd was unbelievable, as vocalist Harry McVeigh’s face was constantly shown on the screens looking in awe and so happy at the crowd’s response, and you couldn’t not be happy seeing a frontman who really appreciates his fans. Harry’s live vocals were outstanding, and the fans joined in singing for songs such as ‘Death’, ‘To Lose My Life’, and my personal favourite ‘Unfinished Business’, and the band left the crowd screaming for more when their set came to an end, definitely a band I’d love to go see again.
Next were the main headliners, My Chemical Romance, who to be quite honest I went to see as a bit of a laugh and to relive the good old days. However, they were really rather amazing! Frontman Gerard Way certainly knows how to work a crowd, and their set was full of their biggest and best songs starting with ‘I’m Not Okay’ and ending with ‘The Black Parade’, with other hits such as ‘Helena’, ‘Cancer’ and ‘Teenagers’ gaining a huge crowd response in between. The only negative point that will really stick in my mind was when mid set Gerard Way announced; “I’m in the best band in the whole fucking world!”, how full of himself! All bands have influences and to basically say that you’re now better than them is a very big headed comment in my opinion, and it’s the only time during their set that MCR were booed by the crowd. However, overall I was pleasantly surprised by their incredible set which had the whole crowd moving and shouting the words, it was too hard to resist!
On the last day of Leeds Fest the legendary Madness took to the stage, and I have to say it was great to see a few fifty year old men crowd surfing! That’s an example of how much excitement the band caused. They hyped up the crowd from the start by opening with ‘One Step Beyond’, and absolutely smashed all their classic hits such as ‘It Must Be Love’, ‘Our House’, along with ‘House of Fun’ which was accompanied by a massive conga line in the crowd, and ‘Baggy Trousers’ which had the majority of the crowd’s legs flying around in attempt to recreate the band’s famous dance moves. The band also performed some of the song ‘Stand by Me’, in memory of the recently deceased Jerry Leiber, and the thousands of people in the crowd joining in and singing along was a great show of respect for his contribution to the music industry in my opinion, and I praise the band for taking time to acknowledge him. Madness are an amazing band and they showed at Leeds Fest that their music will never get old and can be enjoyed by people of all ages!
Next were The Strokes, and to be honest they were a major let down. The majority of people I knew who were going to Leeds fest were most eager to see The Strokes, and they really didn’t live up to all the excitement. Their vocals and instrumental quality was excellent, although there were sound problems so they were quieter than other bands, and songs like ‘Last Night’ and ‘Juicebox’ were well performed, but the band really didn’t create the kind of atmosphere that was expected. All members lacked energy and didn’t get the crowd anywhere near as hyped up as they could have. Overall I’d sum them up as a huge disappointment, which is sad as they are a great band.
I then chose to go see The Midnight Beast, a comical band most famous for their parody of Kesha’s hit ‘Tik Tok’, but have now become quite well established and headlined the Festival Republic Stage, which was absolutely packed. They performed their most well-known humorous songs such as ‘Lez Be Friends’, ‘Just Another Boyband’, and their parody of Jay Sean’s ‘Down’, to an amazing response from the crowd, the majority of which knew all the lyrics. This showed how far they’ve come from becoming famous from YouTube, and the crowd went absolutely mental when they finished with their Kesha parody. I honestly think it was the best crowd I’d been involved in throughout the whole entire festival, and probably my favourite performance of the whole festival as everyone went absolutely mental and the band is just a group of funny lads who tore the place up!
I managed to catch the end of Sunday’s headliners Pulp, and their most famous song ‘Common people’, which sent the crowd wild. Jarvis Cocker’s unique style as a frontman is incredible, and I think he’s seriously one of the coolest men in the music industry. I’m hugely disappointed that I didn’t see more of their set and I’d love to go see them properly, but friends of mine who were there for all of it said they were amazing, and I believe them to be a great choice of band to end the extraordinary weekend that was Leeds festival 2011!