Yorkshire bank holiday weekends are usually associated with Sunday drivers, farms and real ale gardens – however the first weekend in May is always an exception. For the seventh year running the city of Leeds becomes a vibrant stomping ground for bands across the UK, with this year’s highlights featuring Frank Turner, Clean Bandit, George Ezra, Albert Hammond Junior, Nina Nesbitt and The Midnight Beast.
Spread across all of the venues in Leeds the city is transformed into a musical metropolis with over 200 bands taking to various stages across the three days, with the majority featuring on the Saturday with headliners on that evening. Syd Arthur kicked off the day with a combination of powerful layers and inspired drum rhythms juxtaposed against melancholy melodies for a surprisingly uplifting sound. Although the mandolin was more of an aesthetic feature overall the band were reminiscent of early Doors with a look of Led Zep. The day progressed unnaturally with a complete contrast in Leeds Uni Mine with Fawn Spots with a highly animated front man, satirical lyrics and what can only be described as bubblegum rock. Very entertaining but probably not shaping up to be a likely support act for Metallica or even the Midnight Beast very soon.
The arts quarter of Leeds is home to Leeds College of Music and the Wardrobe, both on top form, alive with talent and a central point for aspirational music graduates from far and wide. The ones to watch this year are Tennis – a southern indie duo with fantastic song-writing capabilities and Norma Jean Martine which a piercing soulful voice accompanied by a transfixing ambient electro line up. At the Wardrobe Ezra Vine filled the notorious basement room with cross between the National and Shins. Frank Turner was scheduled at Leeds College of Music at 9:30 however due to popular demand and not to disappoint the massive queue of fans he bailed to do a ‘secret gig’ at the under the radar bar Santiagos. An incredibly personal and intense performance with a room full of avid followers singing to every sung-spoken folk inspired lyric.
The night ended with Johnny Flynn, an amazing lyricist benchmarking against Laura Marling and Noah and the Whale. In the surrounds of Holy Trinity Church he gave great justice to the folk movement, rounding off the day on a soulful and highly satisfying tone.
Photo credit: Katie McGuinness