Following a string of gigs on Friday evening, Live at Leeds really hits it stride on Saturday, with 12 hours of non-stop music and venue hopping to look forward to.
By the time we arrive it’s only midday on Saturday but there is already music escaping from various doorways throughout the city as the festival gets into full swing. Some twelve hours later Clean Bandit will still be spinning records into the night over at the city’s O2 Academy but first up we have vocal sextet The Mexanines bringing some mid-afternoon cheer to a pitch-black Cockpit with their blend of trumpets, saxophones and whatever else is at hand. It is somewhat fitting that the Leeds sunshine is full of flare on the streets outside.
With Leeds’ streets lit up in the sunshine a very dark HIFI plays host to Tourist. Arguably his early evening basement gathering could benefit from some of those rays - an outdoor patio party would have suited his sun-dazed beats more than the dingy, indoor confines where Tourist, real-name William Phillips actually found himself. Thankfully though the late-night shimmering of new EP Patterns offers the perfect kickback as the droves of people scattered in the streets of Leeds look for somewhere to keep the buzz going into the night.
R&B is a loose term these days, but there are definite elements of it in what Raleigh Ritchie does; blending cinematic strings, pounding beats and fluttering keys to create a sound that is entirely his own. On track “Stronger Than Ever” Ritchie talks of “needing time to turn this into home.” But it looks as if he’s already found it, as he rounds of a very self-assured and fun half hour set.
Royal Blood must have had Leeds Met at near capacity as there is barely enough room to make out just where the stage is in this place but the second the duo emerge, the god all-mighty racket they produce makes it easier to locate. Frontman Mike Kerr thinks he’s in Liverpool in between blasting the first several rows of the crowd into frenzy. Later on he apologises before the building is thumped with more over-powering percussion and rumbling guitars. Royal Blood have come a long way since being on Matt Helders’ (the Arctic Monkeys) T-shirt and the size of venues they’ll be playing when their debut album drops is likely to increase quite substantially.
Fellow two-piece from Montreal Solids make a strong case for being the noisiest act of the day but don’t quite make the grade, but surely they will have time to change that in the near future. Palma Violets soundcheck is nearly as long as their set, which is probably partly for the sake of giving the crowd something to look at as The Neighbourhood pulled out earlier in the day leaving an all-mighty gap in the schedule. The amount of people gathered in The Faversham for a set that was announced barely 24 hours ago squash any rumours about people having forgot about the Londoners. Alongside recent live favourite “Gout! Gang! Go!”, the four-piece debut new tracks “Danger In The Club” and “Matador” that showcase a stronger melodic flavour than the material found on their 2013 released debut album 180.
As with any festival, the only real problem with Live At Leeds is the inevitable evening overlaps, especially when it comes to the bigger acts on the bill. Ultimately though, all that leaves us wishing is that this festival had more time to spread out its incredible line-up: perhaps in 2015.