On the final day of Leeds Festival 2021, the young crowd were clearly looking forward to headliner Post Malone and their last chance to let loose before returning to normal life.
By Graeme Smith
Photos by John Hayhurst (snapagig)
The afternoon started for us in The Pit, watching rockers Dead Poet Society. One of the rare American bands that had risked the trip abroad, these guys were in the middle of a UK tour. They treated the early risers to a set of big riffed classic rock and they lapped it up. Changing gears to blues metal, they finished strong.
Over on the Main Stage was one of the acts I was anticipating seeing the most, Beabadobee. Presenting a softer side of rock, she played a charismatic set of melodic grunge. The onlookers at the front of the stage loved it, and the biggest reactions came for two songs from her debut album – Coffee and Worth It.
Back at The Pit came a lively set from a festival highlight – Bob Vylan. Having released their debut album We Live Here during lockdown, the pair have been waiting some time to get out there and perform it and it showed through the energy they brought to the stage (and in the mosh pit).
And the afternoon came to a close with a cheeky set from rapper Slowthai. Never one to back down from controversary, he delivered lyrical digs for all his critics and rivals, and even had time to mug off the crowd. “You lot standing at the back,” he declared. “Stop being so stiff and have a dance!”
Entering the weekend’s last leg, it felt about the right time to have a sit down and enjoy some comedy. Fortunately, the timing was perfect as Katherine Ryan was taking to the Alternative Stage. Having recently had a baby, of course a lot of the comedy focussed on childbirth and being a mother but she also took on ‘woke-ism’ and invited audience questions.
Energy restored, it was time to catch The Wombats on the Main Stage. A big crowd had gathered by this time and they were rewarded as the trio opened their set with their hit Moving To New York. From there they interspersed their impressive hit catalogue with new music from their forthcoming album, due out in January. They were another festival highlight and I enjoyed their modern-folk-disguised-as-indie-pop style.
Then, of course, we had to catch local grunge rockers Bull on the BBC Introducing Stage. Since I’d last seen them, they had expanded to a five-piece and pulled out all the stops for the festival audience, delivering a set of live favourites and tracks of their debut album Discover Effortless Living released last year, in their trademark chaotic style.
So, late into the evening, all that was left to do was to enjoy the festival’s final headliner Post Malone. It seemed like everyone had had the same idea, and the crowd sprawled out in front of the Main Stage for as far as I could see. I must confess I’m not overly familiar with his material but the young audience around me sang back every word to every track to him. He’s clearly struck a chord with them through his unique brand of music that incorporates emo rap, rock and singer songwriter elements.
Here we are, four nights of live music with dozens of acts later, we’ve reached the end of our Leeds Festival journey. Until next year that is. Make sure you’re there!