Live at Leeds – In The City delivers another fun day of discovery of your new favourite bands
Words – Bill Adamson
Photos – John Hayhurst
First band of the day was The Hara at the compact Leeds venue the Wardrobe. This bunch are purveyors of some magnificent, mental metal mayhem. A bit like early Marilyn Manson but with oodles more personality. “Rock Star” is one hell of a tune. Josh is a superb front man, and he entertained the audience immensely with his forays into the crowd and walking along the venue bar. Their EP, due early next year, will be something very special!
The Lottery Winners from Manchester were next in the Wardrobe, they are a fine punky pop band with a canon of great tunes. Thom Rylance is not only a good singer and entertainer, but he also fancies himself as a bit of a comedian. To be fair he is rather funny, particularly the gag about Only Fans, although some folk who have seen the band frequently say that the same joke gets aired often. Nonetheless this was a great set that showcased a very talented band.
Next it was a mad dash to Leeds Beckett for Indie’s next big thing, Lovejoy. The band provoked some megadecibel screaming just like teen heartthrobs of old. It made me think of David Cassidy, Donny Osmond, the Bay City Rollers and Bros. The sound was better than old school teen pop though. Lovejoy sound much better live than they do in recorded form and reminded me of bands like the Wombats and the Pigeon Detectives. The most disappointing part was the sheer volume of punters filming from their phones, it was like a sea of video recording. Come on people, just be there in the moment and keep your phones in your pocket.
Kids played next in Beckett Room 2, I should clarify that Kids is the band’s name and not that a bunch of toddlers did a set! Kids are a vibrant band with immense energy and some fabulous tunes about everyday life. The song about philosophising on a bus, “253”, was very good. They sound, at times, like Mike Skinner backed by a talented jangly Indie band. Definitely one to watch. Warmduscher were the next band to grace the Beckett main stage. For me this band are very good but still a fair way from great. Clams Baker Jr’s overuse of vocal effects can be a little grating. They have some really funky tracks that come across like a prog punk Devo tribute act. Next was a hometown gig at the O2 Academy for Dinosaur Pile-Up who totally smashed it with a stunning, hard-hitting set that could easily have been measured in megatons rather than decibels. A particular highlight was a stonking run through of “Thrash Metal Cassette” which opened their set.
Back to the Beckett Union next, to catch new pop sensation Thomas Headon. This was standard boy band kind of fare and it felt like a tribute act for the likes of Harry Styles and Robbie Williams. Headon has huge levels of energy though. “Strawberry Kisses” is a good pop song which really appealed to the mostly female audience who gave Thomas a real scream fest. Back to the tiny stage at Beckett Room 2 for East London band Boy Bleach, who played a fantastic set on the BBC Introducing Stage at Leeds Festival back in August. Boy Bleach are all about gigantic glam punk tunes with a hard edge and a delightful campness. This was a belting full-on performance. The band wore some marvellous combinations of red and black between them, like a larger White Stripes from an alternative universe. Once again, like their Leeds Festival appearance, their cover of the Britney Spears classic “Toxic” was phenomenal and “Bullet” is a punk anthem in waiting.
Supreme Scouse noiseniks, the Crawlers hit the Beckett Main Stage next, another band who played the Leeds Festival back in August. They play with an abundance of passion and wear their hearts on their sleeves. This set went from funk to punk and everything in between. “Statues” is a class song from a great band. We followed that with Sundara Karma at the O2 Academy. The band has been around eleven years after forming at secondary school in Reading in 2011. Which is surprising, because sartorially they look like they could have been the product of a public school. Oscar Pollock’s vocals were sometimes reminiscent of early Bowie, and they have some great songs. The sound was a bit muddy at times, although that was not the band’s fault. The artists formerly known as British Sea Power took to the Beckett Main Stage next, as always, they are a great live band, one not diminished by their name change to simply, Sea Power. Their sound is a weird, psych, glam that has a hint of early Brian Eno solo throughout.
Pale Waves were deserved headliners at the O2 Academy. They shook off their simply another indie band tag a while ago and now they are a well-established great British rock band. Front woman Heather Baron- Gracie is a real performer with a magical stage presence and she works the crowd brilliantly. The band are incredibly tight, especially drummer Ciara. This was another fine set from Pale Waves. “Television Romance” and “You’re So Vain” were highlights, although the competition was fierce. White Lies closed the Beckett Main Stage with a monumentally loud and hard rocking set. If LCD Sound System, New Order, the Killers, and Arcade Fire formed a super group they might sound a bit like White Lies. But leaving those comparisons aside this lot are an incredibly original band who know how to put on a great performance.
So that wraps up Live At Leeds for 2022. Overall, a very good day, so many bands that we didn’t get to see though, bring on next year’s Live At Leeds festivities!