Festival Reviews

Festival Review: Leeds Festival 2010

By | Published on Friday 3 September 2010

Leeds Festival

At the Northern end of the double-edged festival experience that is the Reading/Leeds weekend, 85,000 people flooded into Bramham Park, milling between any of five different stages and a multitude of non-musical entertainment.

Apart from a few short showers, the weather held up, and the sun even came out on occasion, though not enough to stop it being really cold by nightfall. Still, no one seemed to mind. Music-wise ‘eclectic’ was the word. Ranging from avant-garde techno-pop to heavy hardcore metal, there really weren’t many genres left untouched, and even the headliners covered a number of bases, from the indie sensibilities of Arcade Fire to the fun pop-punk of Blink 182 to one the greatest bands of rock history – Guns N Roses.

With this in mind, I tried to keep my weekend pretty eclectic also, starting off with something electric. Well, electro, with 3OH!3 and Hadouken!, both of whom secured an amazing crowd response on the NME/Radio 1 stage – with seas of waving hands and unison chants – setting the scene nicely for this stage’s headliners Pendulum, who performed impressively.

Over on the Main Stage, Modest Mouse played a criminally short but solid set, paving the way for The Maccabees and The Cribs, who in turn made way for an entertaining and massive set from Dizzee Rascal, who brought on an impressive entourage with him, complete with backing vocalists, a full band and even a brass-section to top it all off.

Canadian upstarts The Cancer Bats followed for me, assaulting the Lock-Up Stage with their visceral blend of metal and punk, and performing their brilliant cover of the Beastie Boys’ ‘Sabotage’. Then it was back to the Main Stage for The Libertines.

A huge crowd had gathered to see how this reunion would turn out, presumably anticipating a drug-fuelled Pete Doherty doing what he does best. They were disappointed. I don’t know what was missing (maybe the prerequisite drugs), but the reunited Libertines lacked nearly all the qualities that made them popular back in the day. Not good. So much so, the crowd had dwindled significantly by the time headliners Arcade Fire came to the stage. Still, they managed to whip up a storm anyway.

Saturday’s more alternative line-up brought All Time Low and You Me At Six to the Main Stage, providing crowd-pleasing performances that whetted the majority of the appetites present for an awesome set from nu-metal rockers Limp Bizkit. Fred Durst was looking aged and portly, but that didn’t affect his voice and they played a strong set chock-full of classic tracks that had thousands of people singing along.

Latino hip hop purveyors Cypress Hill followed, inviting the crowd to light up and get high with them before playing ‘I Want To Get High’ and ‘Dr Greenthumb’ – clearly a group driven by life’s herbal remedies. Weezer played well, including a competent mash-up of MGMT and Lady Gaga, as well as many of their own classic songs. Paramore were also good, but by that point everyone was too busy anticipating headliners Blink 182.

And they, I’m pleased to say, were positively fantastic. Fresh from a five year hiatus that included a near-death plane crash for drummer Travis Barker, Blink are living proof that being over 40 and still massively immature can pay off. Their set consisted of all the classic songs that we fell in love with as teenagers, executed perfectly.

Following such an epic Saturday night, Sunday had a lot to live up too. The Lock-Up Stage offered a series of heavy punk and hardcore acts including a punishing, breakneck set from Hatebreed and an emotive yet upbeat slot from Alkaline Trio.

The Main Stage, meanwhile, played host to Billy Talent, Lostprophets and NOFX, who all played phenomenally, instigating great crowd participation and getting everyone in just the right mood to listen to a well-rounded set from Queens Of The Stone Age. Josh Homme’s band of stoner-rockers played well, including crowd pleasers ‘No One Knows’ and ‘Go With The Flow’ in the mix.

Headliners Guns N Roses came out half an hour late (of course), played a poor set, and then Axl proceeded to insult the crowd that had tolerated their tardiness. The ‘arrogant thing’ worked well for William Bruce Rose back at his band’s height, but now he just comes across as a pompous, overweight and obnoxious middle aged man. I don’t suppose he’ll ever accept that his band just aren’t as good sans Slash, but live it really really shows.

Still, these days you mainly go to see GnR for a shambles, and in that respect Axl delivered. Either way, his set couldn’t dampen our spirits, this had been another awesome Leeds Festival, with a huge range of quality music to cater to all tastes. I look forward to seeing if it can be topped in 2011. Maybe if they booked a band rather than an ego for Sunday night, they might just manage it. TC