Live review: Leeds Festival (Saturday), 24/8/13

Leeds-Festival-2013--718882100-340x280.pngA return of abrupt downpours on both Friday night and Saturday morning ensures that sleeping was not for happening anytime soon, so rather than attempt to force a snooze on my now floating air mattress I decided to take the bold decision of heading up to the arena entrance as early as possible.

Sounds great in theory, but in practicality it would prove almost impossible as I almost lose my wellies on more than one occasion to those dastardly mud swamps.

After such a stressful start to the day I head straight to the bar and grab myself a cheeky little wine, before even approaching the NME/BBC Radio 1 stage, I can hear the dulcet tones of Kodaline reverberate around the chilly early afternoon air, as the band preen around playing by their own standards a slightly more dangerous set than usual.

Even then, there is something that is too ridiculously safe with Kodaline, the issue lies with a sound that is seemingly regurgitated after sitting around in one of their dads old jumpers listening to David Gray records, before one day deciding to make some music, which is as hollowly intended as the horrendous sink I washed my face in this morning.

Thankfully, a wee jaunt to the Festival Republic stage would prove more fruitful, as New York chillwave duo MS MR haunt and entice with a set which is just perfect for the weather, shadowy backdrops filtrate over cycling loops of bass and synthesizer, which in turn create a diverse and cutting sound.

Tracks such as ‘Hurricane’ and ‘Bones’ have the vocal swagger and capacity of anything Florence Welch has ever produced, yet somehow, the songs manage to retain a less commercialised touch, which embraces a more volcanic and intrinsically raw ethnicity of darker vibrancy.

Yesterday it was Fall Out Boy that was used as a fun intermission, today the 16 year old in me found pop punk legends New Found Glory playing their 2002 Sticks and Stones album in its entirety, providing more saccharine induced lumps of caffeine than a strong cappuccino, the Florida chaps left me in an incredulously hyper condition for the rest of the evening.

Frightened Rabbit have a bigger crowd than they had probably hoped for tonight, with folk desperate to escape the desolate storms that have now relented for almost ten straight hours, vocalist Scott Hutchison jokes “I figure most of you have no idea who we are, in any case mon’ in oot’ the rain”.

Challenge accepted, with an ever enlarging tent, the boys play a mixture of all their albums with the usual omission of ‘Keep Yourself Warm’, what they do play, though, is more than sufficient of providing a few singalongs, ‘The Woodpile’ and ‘Modern Leper’ particularly light up the grey skies.

A wealth of intrigue and curiosity has me sticking around for Bastille who have had more than their fair share of hype and success in 2013; ‘Pompeii’ has proved one of the biggest hits this year with its slick production and massive chorus.

Live, though, there seems to be a lack of panache and precision within their tracks, without a plethora of over produced studio tools the band fall flat on their face, which is a shame, because chart topping Bad Blood on record is fantastic.

Vocalist Dan Smith has a consistently weak voice in a live environment and at times whimpers when he should be bellowing like a champion, specifically on mammoth tracks ‘Things We Lost in the Fire’ and ‘Laura Palmer’, which are so badly let down vocally I am close to braving the storms outside again.

When I do eventually clamber into the eye of the storm, it is for good reason, Glasgow electro pop mob Chvrches are just about to hit the Festival Republic stage with a set that would truly define their short career to date.

Ripping into an epically endorsed rendition of ‘Lies’ the trio relentlessly bash out track after track of exquisite pop splendour, which includes a warmly received ‘Recover’ and of course most recently released gem ‘The Mother We Share’, which comes out an utter juggernaut live.

If Chvrches aren’t bashing out their jams at a far larger stage next year, I will most definitely be surprised, there is a sequence of electricity and showmanship that peak out every pore of their set this evening and far bigger things are surely beckoning for the group.

Much like Bastille earlier, main stage headliners Green Day has me curious, I head over having missed the first hour of their set and it appears I made the right decision with my casually late appearance.

Arriving as the band decides to play 1994 classic Dookie front to back is a welcome surprise, tracks such as ‘When I Come Around’ and ‘Basketcase’ provide all the nostalgia needed before heading back to my tent for another night of fighting miserable poverty and rain.

Words: Chris Kelman

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