Live at Leeds 2013 review

'The best value for money festival around'

Live at Leeds 2013 review

Photographer: Al De PerezHoward Jones on 05 May 2013

Live at Leeds already had a fierce reputation as one of the best city festivals in the UK, so when Camden Crawl decided to move to October it was only going to be to Live at Leeds’ benefit.

The depth of strength in the line-up has undoubtedly improved this year with big buzz acts such as the 1975 punctuating mid-afternoon and creating clashes galore. Yet it is the early bands which provide a chance to check out the local talent. The day kicks off with Leeds College of music student Georgia Thursting (8/10), who at 19 years old produces a gorgeous set. Tales of sex, adultery and seduction detailed in songs ‘The Boy’ and ‘Love Him Like Me’ are all underpinned by a rich soulful voice that will take Thursting to higher things.

Swimming Lessons (7/10) is the brainchildren of Ben Lewis, from the Leeds band Blood Oranges. This set arrests any mid-afternoon slump with his brand of refreshing electronic pop. The looping wide soundscapes and soaring vocals lends itself much to contemporaries such as Chad Valley, The Field and MMTHS yet feels individualistic enough to avoid feeling like a copycat effort here. The set feels like it is over too quickly and it later emerges that the venue Leeds Uni started the day’s first few sets earlier than advertised, frustrating those who turned up at the printed times.

As evening draws in, the established acts begin to clash. (8.5/10) stands up along her Scandinavian contemporaries, continuing the rich tradition of making fantastic pop music with a twist. The Danish singer has drawn comparisons with Grimes and Lana Del Rey but attacks her songs with the sort of punkish energy really reserved for Karen O. ‘Glasses’ is a highlight of the day and has a really celebratory feel about it, with its joyous chorus and yelping vocals inviting people to join in. The slower tempos of ‘Maidens’ and ‘Pilgrims’ with their minimal funk suggests that a debut album cannot come fast enough.

The Neighbourhood (6.5/10) from California broke through in 2012 surrounded by a mountain of blog hype. The five piece exude their usual defiance by opening with arguably their most recognised song in ‘Female Robbery’. The set has plenty of energy encouraged by the band’s brand of rock, fused with hip hop and R&B. It is clear from the second song that most of this crowd are loyal fans, knowing every album track off by heart, and the crowd and band seem to mutually feed off each other’s energy, but the songs eventually become repetitive.

Rudimental (8/10) have got it right. It is easy for a band with their considerable rise to fame simply to turn up and play their hits to the lowest common denominator and walk away with the cheque. However, the band have already got a strong live show, despite their infancy as a live act. Arriving late, the crowd are as ‘up for it’ as a band could wish for. Nevertheless, the hits are held back until the very end, yet this rarely dampens the crowd’s enthusiasm for the material that shall form the band’s debut album.

John Newman, who played a festival set earlier in the day, comes on for ‘Feel the Love’, that rare dance track which can get some people dancing and yet make others in the room simply get lost in its soulful sentiment. Moshpits of teenagers never relent and Ella Eyre takes centre stage for closer ‘Waiting All Night’. Two songs, two number ones. All in their stride. It appears highly likely that Rudimental will be 2013’s festival act that rivals the feverish reaction generated by Pendulum and Chase and Status in past summers.

At the end of it the festival did not pass completely without issue. Organisers seemed to struggle to cope with the wristband exchange in the mid-afternoon and found people queuing half an hour to get their event wristbands at the ticket exchange. There were also notable capacity issues at venues during the afternoon as some venues had to turn people away. These congestion issues eased into the evening as the bigger acts clashed forcing the crowds to split up. Nevertheless, overcrowding can only be viewed as a by-product of the festival’s success.

Crowding issues aside, Live at Leeds must make a stake for the best value for money festival around, costing a mere £22.50 for the day. The line up was vastly improved upon this year, and this year it's no longer the sidelined Northern sister to Camden Crawl but returns the triumphant big Northern daddy.

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