Bank holidays, especially in summer, are always a great weekend , one that you can optimise further by a embracing 14 hours straight of live music! Live at Leeds seems to be growing in popularity and raising the standard/profiles of signed and unsigned acts.!
I eased myself in at midday with Chew Lips, watching them for the fourth time it would be fair to say this is a band I am quite familiar with. Instead of stalking I would prefer to think this behaviour typifies the festival’s ethos of nurturing a band with support and watching them develop. The electro indie trio delivered sparkles in dress and music and gave their followers and new fans a reason to buy their first reasonably respectable drink of the day. In short their debut album Unicorn should become as standard in your collection as Morning Glory.
The second venue, Nation of Shopkeepers, is a personal favourite of mine, and although I didn’t know Broken Hands I had never been disappointed by any acts that had played there. This band was no exception and delivered a musical message someway between Britpop and folk if that’s imaginable. Maybe a simpler vision would be of a heavy version of Pulp, yet with slightly funky sentiments and more subtly whingy anguish; any band that uses a tambourine as a core part of the set, and does it well, always goes up in my estimations.
In the same vane Adult Jazz also pioneered the growing phenomenon of replacing typical sounds like synths, drums and guitars with non electronic instruments. Although by the name these guys may sound like they are attempting to not only appreciate but revive Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie, this band were actually supporting a trend of something I have decided to brand as ‘ambient electro orchestral music.’ This encompasses bands in the same talent pool as the Cinematic Orchestra, Bonobo, Portico Quartet and Little Dragon. Essentially using a trombone to accompany synths and lots of bass in a club under a railway bridge goes someway to painting an accurate auditory image.
One of the acts that I was most looking forward to was Ladyhawke, who delivered a seamless hour long set of 80’s vibes, yet still offering something to relate to no matter what era you are from – this was evident from the varied audience this brought to Leeds largest gig venue at prime time. There is something quite innocent yet equally intriguing about this beautiful blondie; the girl next door and aspiring politician rolled into one. The hook lines of My delirium, Back of the Van and Black, White and Blue were heard from various people joyfully stumbling the streets for the rest of the night.
Just before the final act of the night I managed to squeeze in a set by Alt-J, which was shoegazy similar to Being There who I had sat avidly watching cross-legged on the floor inches away from them earlier in the day. The frontman has the voice of Serj Tankian which works surprisingly well with sway worthy whispers, xylophone lines, harmonies and acoustic guitar lullabies. I highly recommend seeking out Alt-J’s tracks Matilda and Fitzpleasures as I now listen to them on my daily playlist of the moment.
Choosing the headline acts to see is always a tough choice, for me this lay between Dog is Dead or Lianne La Havas. Maybe it was the cider by that point that explained why I based this decision on the fact that someone who had been added to the line-up last minute represented an oman for success. That and the fact that I had seen Dog is Dead a few weeks before and am far to bias to their brilliance – especially as a fellow sax player.
This logic turned out to be flawless and Lianne and the band were a personal highlight and I honestly believe these musician have yet to grasp how mind blowing they actually are. Having been compared to a female Ben Howard, Lianne silenced the room with a beautiful hybrid of sweet folk and soul. I sat stunned on the balcony listening to powerful vocals supported by banging bass lines, encapsulating keyboard melodies and a personal favourite – double bass! As humble as it may be I predict massive things for this lovely lady in 2012 and beyond, hard hitting track Lost and Found having already received daytime airplay on national radio.
The night would not have been complete without the obligatory after party, even though I have spent more evenings than I can or would like to remember in Leeds infamous rock/indie/punk/alternative club Cockpit this one seemed unique. Celebrating a love of live music with people you have known all your life, your uni life or for five minutes is as gratifying as spending Christmas in Lapland. Although I slept well into the afternoon on the final weekend before end of my degree deadlines I still woke up half deaf with a head full of memories and a smile on my face. I was satisfied in a warm bed instead of a field high from the simplicity of small scale festival life and new and loved music.