Leeds Festival 2009

Leeds Festival (Friday)

Date: Aug 28 2009

Institution: Festival Republic

Sponsers: Radio 1, NME, Tuborg, HMV, Relentless, Gaymers

Rating: 4.8/5

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Leeds Festival, in its 11th year, offered an interesting line-up, with an array of exciting up-coming bands, as well as the likes of Radiohead, Kings of Leon and Faith No More. Friday, with the great main stage line-up of The Prodigy followed by the Arctic Monkeys, suggested the thousands of festival-goers would be up for an energetic, sing-a-long finale to the opening evening of music.

The opening act of the Festival Republic stage gave us Skint and Demoralised, a solo indie act, combining indie-pop with poetic, often comical breaks, showcasing the young Wakefield talent’s song and poem writing ability. Pulled Apart By Horses followed the opening act, a punk four-piece hailing from Leeds, again a local addition to the early afternoon line-up. Walking out on to the stage in fluorescent capes, it was instantly clear that this band would put on something out of the ordinary. The energy levels were overwhelmingly high for a 12:45 set in one of the smaller tents of the festival, the crowd never really caught on to the high levels of energy – leaving a lack of atmosphere in the tent and a slight lack of overall satisfaction, the venue perhaps not being so much in their favour.

Detroit Social Club is a Newcastle based alternative rock group, awaiting their debut album after many positive critical reports and also after completing tours with Oasis and Twisted Wheel. As soon as the band began to play they gave off the aurora of a powerful rock/soul group. The performance, vocally and instrumentally was very strong; all critical approval justified. Enter Shikari attracted a large crowd for the main stage mid-afternoon. The tracks played varied from new and old album singles, along with the dubstep influenced ‘Havoc B’. The crowd was fantastic throughout, energy levels were very high and the aggression displayed by the post-hardcore band on stage was mirrored in the crowd, mosh pits unavoidable in areas. In the NME issue containing the Leeds Festival reviews, Enter Shikari was described as ‘an utterly ridiculous band’, but then again, Enter Shikari isn’t generic indie rock.

Middle Class Rut is a heavy alternative rock duo from California. The duo’s ability to create such sophisticated and busy tracks on-stage as well as on record is very impressive, although the crowd in the Festival Republic tent consisted of no more than 80 people – certainly not the reception they deserved. Give these two a few years to gain some recognition and they could offer some of the most intense gigs around, with high tempo riffs and Stockham’s admirable drumming ability.

White Lies played the NME stage Friday evening, performing a selection of tracks from their debut album superbly – McVeigh’s vocals so sublime they could put on a great performance in any venue. Amongst the old tracks were one or two promising sounding new tracks, a band that can only really move up in stature. The Prodigy were tipped by the majority to be one of the most powerful gigs of the weekend, and the band failed to disappoint, putting on a highly entertaining, energetic hour of Prodigy classics and new hits, of which all the crowd expected.

Rise Against headlined the Lock Up stage and put on a great performance; new album tracks were played including ‘Saviour’, a track that wasn’t performed live on their UK tour earlier in the year. As usual, a forceful performance and a packed out venue left the gig feeling powerful and intimate, the perfect recipe for any good gig.

A rather intoxicated Alex Turner hit the Leeds main stage at 10pm Friday, and rather predictably, but to the disappointment of the crowd, played three new songs to get things going. Despite ‘My Propeller’ being a great opener, when playing to tens of thousands of people, of which 50% have likely never heard the new album, it would make more sense to play a classic to get the crowd in the mood. The proportion of new tracks played was over a third, clearly advertising the bands new sound. Overall the Arctic Monkeys put on a strong headline performance, although somewhat overshadowed by the force of the Prodigy’s sub-headliner slot.

~Article by James Murray

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