After two and half days of partying, you could forgive the Leeds Festival crowd if they were flagging a little by Sunday morning. Yet, the line-up had different plans.
By Graeme Smith
Photos by John Hayhurst
Any thoughts of a quiet morning were shattered within the first few bars of Anchor Lane‘s set on the Festival Republic stage. Their lively hard rock was the perfect tonic for any low feelings. I interviewed the band after their set and asked them how they made so much noise for a three-piece. The response: “because we’re Scottish!”
The unwashed crowd were then subjected to an impromptu shower when the heavens opened. The weather suited Fat Dog who were also on the Festival Republic stage. The tent was filled by those escaping the rain and they stuck around for the bonkers, Gogol Bordello-esque psych jazz rock. The serendipity of the moment was an early highlight.
Things got a little more chilled as the afternoon wore on, first with a soulful set from Arlo Parks on the Main Stage West, and the dreamy emotional pop of Holly Humberstone on Main Stage East. Caity Baser then livened things up on the Radio 1 Dance Stage with her brand of honest, quick-fire indie pop before Easy Life slowed it down again with some laid-back hip-hop.
As the evening set in, any lingering cobwebs were blown away by the screamo hip-hop and rap of Zand on the Festival Republic Stage and an energetic, end of term secret set from Baby Queen on the BBC Introducing Stage.
Just for good measure, we got another secret set, this time courtesy of Soft Play at the Festival Republic Stage, serving some incendiary and irreverent punk rock. Then LF System got the Radio 1 Dance Stage jumping with a rousing DJ set. The Scots lads are really having their moment right now.
In 2004, I went to V Festival and didn’t bother to see The Killers because I hadn’t heard of them. Within months their legendary album Hot Fuss was a global smash and they blew up. Almost 20 years later, I finally caught them as headliners on Main Stage West. Hot Fuss is but a fraction of their catalogue now but they’ve not lost their magic. Yet it was the classics that landed the hardest – Smile Like You Mean It, Jenny Was A Friend of Mine, Somebody Told Me, All These Things That I Have Done and, of course, Mr. Brightside. The belting closer was well worth finding a second wind to experience.
Until next year. As always, here’s a bonus gallery of other acts and atmosphere.
Leeds Festival took place at Bramham Park, Leeds between 24 and 28 August 2023.