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arts & entertainment 67


E


very year the TV cameras go to Reading, but there’s no doubt that Leeds Festival


is the place to be and this year’s event really hammered home that fact. While our friends down south got buried


under six feet of mud and witnessed a ludicrously late, sub-par Guns N’ Roses kicked off


stage half-way through their


set, festival-goers at Bramham Park were treated to several glorious days of sun and a full two-hours of Axl Rose and co on top, top form. BBC TV would do well to move their people a couple of hundred miles further north next year. Fittingly it was a Yorkshire act who


kicked things off with a bang on Friday, the screamy, synth-laden post-hardcore of Rolo Tomassi providing the perfect wake-up call. Shortly


afterwards The


There’s no doubt that the long-awaited


reunion set from The Libertines was a big moment for many, and fears of a no-show or a bust-up were grossly unfounded. The band even staged a mock walk-off ten minutes in as a joke, and Pete Doherty and Carl Barat led from the front with a procession of fan favourites. Perhaps they would have ended with more oomph using Can’t Stand Me Now or Don’t Look Back Into The Sun to finish – instead of launching into these mid-way through – but it was still good stuff. Much like last year’s headliners Radiohead,


Futureheads


mustered an ideal soundtrack to the sunny early afternoon over at the Main Stage, climaxing in a huge sing-along to Hounds Of Love. Then it was time for Glaswegian stand-up Kevin Bridges at the Alternative Tent, generating big belly laughs with his nostalgia for teenage house parties and the days when Eurotrash kept the kids off the streets. Modest Mouse greeted a brief


rain


shower with a burst of banjo and a barn- storming rendition of King Rat – just about compensating for the lack of Float On and Missed The Boat – before everybody went utterly barmy for hip-hop maestro and pop superstar Dizzee Rascal.


alt-rock darlings Arcade Fire seemed a slightly unusual choice of bill-topper for Leeds – with Latitude or Glastonbury perhaps a more natural fit. Indeed, they were unjustly confronted with a far smaller Main Stage headline crowd than you’d usually expect, with tens of thousands streaming over to see Pendulum instead. Not that the band seemed to care. They


delivered one of the finest festival sets in living memory, instrument-swapping, drum- bashing and amp-leaping with ferocious energy and enthusiasm, creating a sense of infectious joy on Tunnels and rousing power on Intervention. Much of their excellent new album got a stunning airing and the epic encore of Wake Up was nothing short of euphoric.


Glorious Sun and full two-hours of Axl Rose and Co on top form...


First-thing Saturday it was off to the


Gaymers Cider tent – a venue for all kinds of weird and wonderful antics over the weekend – to catch Hendrix-esque one-man band Lewis Floyd Henry. The big-haired performer delighted with his sleazy, blues- rock, playing the guitar with his teeth and behind his head while rattling off drum beats with his feet. The pop power-punk of young Wakefield


To say he attracted a colossal crowd


would be an understatement. To say it was utter, wonderful chaos would be selling it short. A heaving, delighted horde bounced and screamed along to a barrage of hits, with Mr Rascal even treating himself to a hugely demanded encore. And why not? Bonkers evoked absolute bedlam – and some poor shell-shocked souls returning from the front looked like they didn’t quite know what hit them.


lads Runaround Kids over on the BBC Introducing stage displayed a band of real promise, before Mercury Prize nominees Wild Beasts dazzled on home soil at the NME/Radio 1 tent with their distinctive mix of rhythmic dance-inducing beats and soaring operatic melodies. Nu Metal outfit Limp Bizkit were


surprisingly good value, kicking off with a rollicking rendition of Rollin’ and treating fans to a set focused on their best-known album Chocolate Starfish..., but it was angst- rock kings Weezer who really stole the show – and perhaps the entire weekend with it. Not content with terrific bursts of Holiday, Buddy Holly and Say It Ain’t So, frontman


There aren’t many folk bands who can fill


stadiums, but an absolutely gigantic crowd descended on the NME/Radio 1 stage to cheer along to their foot-stomping anthems, delivering waves of warmth throughout a set which evolved into one huge, joyful and overwhelmingly powerful sing-along. Word of Guns N’ Roses nightmare set at


Reading had made for a nervous wait ahead of their Leeds appearance, but we needn’t have worried. Stunning all and sundry by coming on a mere thirty minutes late, Axl and his accomplished mob of musicians brought classics such as Live And Let Die, Sweet Child O’ Mine, November Rain and Paradise City to the party, complete with all the classic hair rock trappings of OTT guitar solos, jets of flame, explosions of glitter and Rose’s rather fetching array of hats. A cover of the Pink Panther tune suggested


the band were enjoying themselves, and even when Rose lambasted “the cops and promoters” at the end in typical diva style, it mattered not. He was probably the only person there who felt short-changed.


Rivers Cuomo led his band on an ironic cover of Teenage Dirtbag and a hilarious mash- up of MGMT’s Kids and Lady Gaga’s Poker Face (complete with blonde wig), as well as scaling hoardings, humping light fixtures and leading the whipped up crowd on an attempted invasion of the backstage area. Later on chants of


‘Yorkshire’ greeted


Helmsley boys One Night Only at the Festival Republic stage, and they entertained an enthusiastic young crowd with their catchy indie-pop gems. Rounding off the day came British Sea Power and their giant dancing bear, obligatory yells of ‘easy’ heralding a superb blast of No Lucifer. Lead singer Yan told the crowd they’d earned credit for not going to see Blink 182 – and on this evidence BSP were certainly the better option. Cometh Sunday, cometh some of the


weekend’s best action. Gypsy punks Gogol Bordello were fun, exciting and dynamic, Delphic impressed with their fine dance tunes, but it was Mumford & Sons who stood out as the day’s real highlight.


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