Review by Jack Arkell
Kicking off the main stage on the Saturday of Leeds Festival was obviously an honour for Deaf Havana, who did their best to win over a crowd mostly made up of neutral observers. Songs about their native Norfolk failed to connect with the Yorkshire audience, though choice tracks from latest album ‘Fools and Worthless Liars’ such as ‘Leeches’ and ‘The Past Six Years’ were of a sufficient quality to retain the attention for half an hour.
Coheed and Cambria are another band who could be accused of not really connecting with a live audience, but were in imperious form as they combined older tracks with material from forthcoming album ‘The Afterman: Ascension’. Claudio Sanchez appeared up for the task of converting a largely non-metal crowd, his double neck guitar serving up some delectable riffs for the congregation. One of the sets of the day on the main stage, and another clear celebration of metal.
Often criticised for his live performances, Tom DeLonge brought side project Angels and Airwaves to Leeds just two years after headlining the festival with Blink 182. Though the crowd was predictably much smaller for him this time round, he seemed to enjoy this performance all the same. The songs still sounded decent too, with ‘The Adventure’ seemingly written for such occasions.
Over on the Radio 1/NME Stage, Spector’s two indie anthems ‘Chevy Thunder and ‘Never Fade Away’ had what seemed like the entire crowd singing along, before garage rock icons The Hives raised the bar for everyone else on Saturday’s bill. Armed with a list of singles as long as a human arm and a puppet master of a frontman in Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, the Swedes are tailor made for a festival like this one. Sure, there’s less of a reaction for the newer material, but tracks from 2000’s ‘Veni Vidi Vicious’ threaten to blow the roof of the tent.
The Blackout, faced with the task of following a group of festival veterans, came out like caged lions with ‘Children of the Night’, with both Sean Smith and Gavin Butler mingling with the crowd in the opening minutes of their set. From there, it’s a standard Blackout show. That’s not to say that it’s sub-par in any way, but after a long stretch of touring, the same songs and stage banter are at risk of becoming slightly stale.
Certainly not stale were blues-punk two piece Wet Nuns, whose combination of blistering tunes and humorous exchanges created the perfect backdrop to eat your greasy festival burger to. The BBC Introducing Stage crowd were instructed to partake in a Wall of Life and a Square Pit, the latter of which was agonisingly close to actually working.
The Lock Up Stage saw its share of punk royalty as darkness drew in, with Bouncing Souls, Every Time I Die and Anti-Flag all chipping in. The former struggled to whip up a disappointingly crowd, something which can be rarely said about ETID. Vocalist Keith Buckley covered every inch of the stage, exerting more energy than the whole audience combined. It worked though, as even those standing right at the back of the crowd began to move in tandem with the most aggressive band of the weekend. Anti-Flag are just legends. And, while their between song banter may be slightly preachy at times, tracks like ‘Fuck Police Brutality’ and ‘This is the New Sound’ are still as vital as ever.
Headlining over on the main stage were The Cure, their 30+ song setlist really dividing the fair-weather fans from the die-hards. There’s still something special about these 36 year veterans, and the fact that they fail to draw the same size crowd as Foo Fighters or Kasabian is more a reflection of the general age of the Leeds Festival audience than the quality of the band themselves. Although two and a half hours proved too much for some who decided to check out other bands, those who stayed witnessed a career spanning collection of true gothic rock classics, and the perfect way to end the second day of Leeds 2012.