Review by Jack Arkell
The final day of Leeds Festival 2012, and rumours were rife that Bloc Party would be playing a surprise set on the Radio 1/NME Stage to kick things off. It was a shame for Post War Glamour Girls then that a mass exodus greeted their arrival, with those who had been given tip-offs heading for the nearest bar in disappointment. PWGG’s introverted indie-rock style meant that interest in their set never really recovered, providing a pretty unmemorable set for them.
Pure Love are a different animal altogether. The eagerness of Frank Carter and Jim Carroll to join the crowd for a large part of their performance only served to heighten the atmosphere, as ‘Bury My Bones’ inspired mass bouncing and crowdsurfing from the audience and band members alike. Certainly not a band living off of previous projects, Pure Love really seem to be heading onwards and upwards.
On the same stage, Scottish act Twin Atlantic simply can’t match their predecessors. Their set is polished, their songs tight and well written, but competence is no substitute for passion today or on any other day.
Over on the Festival Republic Stage, Bedford quartet Don Broco showed up whoever is in charge of the running order with an energetic and spirited set that bested the majority of those who followed them. Their slot was cut short before final track ‘Actors’ could be played due to time constraints, not that it mattered to any of their fans who were under the band’s command throughout. Broco proved in front of a packed tent that they are genuinely one of the top up and coming UK bands, which is good going seeing as their album ‘Priorities’ is only days old.
Leeds tasted rain for only the second time of the weekend as The Shins played out a surprisingly low key showing on the main stage, before Enter Shikari abused genre boundaries yet again as they played tracks from the chart bothering ‘A Flash Flood of Colour’ for a very receptive crowd who contributed to one of the highlights of the weekend. Ringmaster Rou Reynolds doesn’t allow time for breathers, conducting circle pits and human pyramids. It is a measure of how far the band have come that they attracted one of the biggest crowds of the weekend, and the St Albans act provided something for everyone in attendance.
Meanwhile, Lower Than Atlantis’ melodic pop-punk entertained without igniting on the Festival Republic, the same stage which saw Feeder rifle through a set of old favourites and new cuts from the studio later on in the evening. Of course, Grant Nicholas and co. have got used to the fact that the likes of ‘Just a Day’ and ‘High’ are always going to receive the loudest crowd reaction, but newer tracks such as ‘Renegades’ and ‘Idaho’ sound excellent too, even if there is a sense that these tracks have become a mere undercard to the heavyweights of ‘Buck Rodgers’ and ‘Feeling a Moment.’
The Cribs and At the Drive-In closed out proceedings on the Radio 1/NME Stage. The former’s reputation as one of the UK’s most exciting live acts is well and truly justified on the evidence of their set. ‘Come On, Be a No One’, ‘Hey Scenesters!’ and ‘Men’s Needs’ should come with a warning, as the echoes of an entire crowd singing in unison bounced off the walls of the tent. Less crowd participation is present for ATDI’s rare UK performance, with only a small section of the crowd seemingly familiar with the band’s entire body of work. The remainder of the audience appeared to be content with watching Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s stage antics whilst casually nodding their heads to the wonderfully un-cohesive post-hardcore of the recently reunited band. It’s a unique set to close the weekend with, but one that worked even without a wealth of sing-alongs and the like.
Leeds Festival 2012 proved that if its variety you want for your festival weekend, Reading and Leeds are still the places to be.