Saturday at Leeds saw the sun shine, the crowds swell and the Northern bands steal the show during the afternoon. Then the Yanks arrived with The Killers and Pixies and stole the flag.
Manc veterans Elbow debuted three new songs from their third LP, Leaders Of The Free World. Opening with new single ‘Forget Myself’, a stomping four to the floor belter they also played title track ‘Leaders Of The Free World’ and the quite wonderful album opener ‘Station Approach’.
The highlight was a quite exquisite rendition of ‘Fugitive Motel’. Dedicating ‘New Born’ to guitarist Mark Potter’s new baby, singer Guy Garvey was smiling throughout, declaring at the end: “You’re always better than Reading, Leeds.”
Following the Scouse invation of 2003, The Coral were one of few Liverpool bands on the bill this year. Despite the rather downbeat mood of their new LP, they managed to delight fans with a splashing of old songs, including ‘Goodbye’, ‘Skeleton Key’ and ‘Dreaming Of You’. VF’s favourite was the beautifully melancholic minor key bliss of ‘Pass It On’.
Earlier in the day, early risers caught Do Me Bad Things looking as dashing as ever, mashing up mascara and kinky pop. Goldie Looking Chain proved that the bubble hasn’t burst quite yet, debuting a clutch of new songs, including ‘Can I Fuck Your Sister?’. As ever, the highlight of GLC’s set was the between-song banter, proving that their profound grasp of profanity is for real.
Graham Coxon‘s post-Blur star continued to rise with a rather “lovely” mid-afternoon set. Visibly delighted, he debuted a new song ‘I Can’t Look At Your Skin, It Does Me In’ – a raucous, riff-driven garage rock anthem in the making.
The kings of all things rock however, were indubitably Queens Of The Age. Pulling one of the biggest crowds of the festival so far, they wowed fans with ‘Go With The Flow’ and ‘The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret’ before finishing with a mammoth twelve minute version of ‘No One Knows’.
After almost headlining every festival going and ahead of the billing at the top of the American Download Festival, Leeds was The Killers‘ for the taking and they did themselves proud. Saying farewell to their debut LP, Hot Fuss, which they’ve now toured for some three years, the West Coast quartet played new song ‘All The Pretty Faces’ along with the best dance floor anthems of the last decade in the way of ‘Smile Like You Mean It’, ‘Somebody Told Me’ and ‘Mr. Brightside’. Las Vegas’ finest export roused the loudest singalong of the day with sufficient ease to guarantee that the next time they appear at this festival, they’ll be at the very top of the bill.
That’s assuming Pixies aren’t on the same day, though. Cruising onto the mammoth stage as if they’d never had a fifteen year hiatus, Black Francis and cohorts delivered a sermon in how to headline. Who needs new material when you’ve got that catalogue of classic after classic to drop on an adoring crowd that knows every word?
Over on the NME/ Radio 1 Stage, Kasabian were putting up an valiant effort to draw crowds away from the american giants. In fact, some might say they over-compensated, with event staff having to perform emergency DIY on the side of the tent, which had literally burst at the seams with fans desperate to get a glimpse of the top of Serj’s hat. Those lucky enough to do so will vouch that the steamy intimacy of canvas does considerably more justice to this band than the distant open of Glastonbury or Hyde Park. The glorious effect was to disarm the usually aloof Tom Meighan and provoke an emotional tirade of appreciation for the adoring throng as the band proceeded to blow the roof off the place.