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Leeds Festival: Day Three – live review

Leeds Festival – Day Three (see Day One and Day Two) Bramham Park, Leeds 26th-28th August 2022 On the last day of Leeds Festival Paul Clarke saw the cream of Yorkshire Bring Me The Horizon and Arctic Monkeys close the event with triumphant sets. By day three of this festival the tropical conditions had left […]

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Leeds Festival: Day Three – live review Leeds Festival – Day Three (see Day One and Day Two)
Bramham Park, Leeds
26th-28th August 2022

On the last day of Leeds Festival Paul Clarke saw the cream of Yorkshire Bring Me The Horizon and Arctic Monkeys close the event with triumphant sets.

By day three of this festival the tropical conditions had left the fields like a desert full of exhausted teenagers, who kicked up huge clouds of dust as they marched in long columns from field to field in search of more music.

Today’s bill was probably the most traditional of the weekend, but naturally there were huge expectations round the site for the return of localish heroes Arctic Monkeys, who were playing their first UK gigs for nearly four years. But there was plenty going all day as sleep deprived punters dozed in the sun, and the dad in me hoped they’d put sunblock on.

Any festival is a marathon not a sprint, so pacing yourself is vital as many of the wrecked people across the site were just discovering; but it’s also a rare chance to walk around the different stages to check out interesting new bands you might not have heard of before.

Case in point was Houston’s punk rapper De’Wayne in a leather corset and ripped jeans who was smashing it on West Stage, telling the decent sized crowd before Perfume that ‘Even when I’m shouting at y’all it’s done with love’. His charisma even sparked a mini mosh pit as he asked people to imagine that they were the Ramones playing in a small club, as the guitarist and drummer ripped into Me Against You.  It was easy to imagine them as the Ramones and De’Wayne is one to watch.

A quick trip to the Alternative Tent for Soccer AM and Ted Lasso star Lloyd Griffith, who started his standup set by announcing he was to become a father, which got a big cheer. His funny routine included living with his mum during lockdown in his hometown Grimsby, which sounded like hell in so many different ways.

Leeds Festival: Day Three – live review
Wolf Alice © Sam McMahon

Back to the east field for rising indie stars The Lathums from over the Pennines in Wigan. The affable four piece are about to embark on an arena tour with Kasabian, so this was good practice for that. Frontman Alex Moore might have a big, expressive voice on tracks like All My Life and How Beautiful, but he needs to work on his patter, which was limited, as he prepares to play big venues.  Moore was sporting a brilliant white suit that Don Johnson might have worn in Miami Vice, and they are certainly much more interesting than the average indie band.

I did try to get in the Radio One Dance Stage tent to see rising pop star Madison Beer but it was so packed you couldn’t even squeeze in.  Beer was another act that decided to use backing tracks instead of a band, but the kids didn’t seem bothered as she merrily knocked all her angsty TikTok hits.

Wandering back across the parched grass littered with discarded pizza boxes my eye was caught by the elfin-like Poppy. She’s another artist who started lifer a YouTube sensation but over time has developed her own emo pop metal sound and the black clad singer generated a lot of power from such a slight frame as her band ground their way through Bloodmoney and new track FYI.

Fair play to rapper AJ Tracy, who was another artist who stepped in to play at the last minute after a couple of acts pulled out to play the VMAs in the US. Sadly his nondescript raps and beats left me cold, especially as there are so many other acts working in this space who are so much more interesting.

Leeds Festival: Day Three – live review
Poppy © Matt Eachus

He was followed by an intense set by Dubliners Fontaines D.C. as frontman Grian Chatten stalked round the stage in a vest in front of a very odd stage set that seemed to be fake flowers on a metal frame. At the mic he was reminiscent of an Irish Liam Gallagher as he snarled out A Hero’s Death, a contender for best song this century, and the driving powerpop of Boys In The Better Land. I Love You slowed things down and showed a different side of this hugely talented five-piece who are really leading the renaissance of Irish music.  At Reading they got a fan to play with them, but not here, although there were plenty of tricolours flying, plus orange and green flares, to make it feel a bit like a hometown gig as the diaspora turned out in force.

Over the last couple of years Wolf Alice have stealthily become one of our best live acts. based on Ellie Roswell’s soaring soprano, and some top tunes from their Blue Weekend record. Today they wowed a big crowd including my 17-year-old daughter who described them as ‘expletive deleted amazing’, and she isn’t normally into guitar bands. The first time I saw Wolf Alice was at Live At Leeds festival in a backroom with a handful people, but even back then you could tell they had something. This confident, frills free performance showed just how much they have realised that potential, opening with a pounding Smile.

Bassist Theo Ellis did most of the reviving up of the crowd getting them to wave their arms as they switche from the jingly jangly Bros to the trashy Play The Greatest Hits.  Joff Oddie’s acoustic came out for a sublime version of Safe showing off Roswell’s pure voice as couples around me sang along. How Can I Make it OK? is a question we all ask ourselves, but as Roswell straps her guitar back on the band produces some tight close harmonies that lift this song to new heights. The best was left until last as Roswell, as is now traditional at festivals, sat on the edge of the stage to croon a stunning version of The Last Man On Earth, which was by some distance the best moving song of the day.

Leeds Festival: Day Three – live review
Fontaines DC © Georgina Hurdsfield

Just as the festival seemed to be winding down Sheffield’s metal gods Bring Me The Horizon produced hands down the best show of the weekend, and hyperactive singer Oli Sykes won first prize for best frontman, which you would expect from a rock act. Before they opened with Can You Feel My Heart clever computer graphics flashed up making it clear they were imagining a post-apocalyptic world, including a call for the mosh pits to open, which they duly did.

Flanked by a very tight band ranged over two tiers, Sykes constantly worked the crowd cheekily telling them ‘if you’re standing still then you’re a knobhead’ in his broad Yorkshire accent. It’s not often you see a metal band – even one as imaginative as this – with dancers, but in this bonkers world it wasn’t a surprise when two dancing robots with poms, poms appeared as flamethrowers go off.

It was magnificently over the top, but underneath all the chaos this was a very smart band not scared to add electronics into the mix. Sykes added his massive voice to a storming Kingslayer, which would have blown the roof off if there was one. The scary Parasite Eve written during lockdown had a touch of Rage Against The Machine to it as two hazmat suited dancers writhed around the neon set, and computer generated devils marched across the big screens.

To celebrate what was for them as close to a hometown gig as they could get, Sykes led the crowd in a rousing chorus of ‘ey up’. There was one touching moment as Sykes was down in the pit high fiving the front row when he came across a young woman sobbing with the emotion of it all, and just automatically gave her a big hug because he knew exactly what she was going through.

Leeds Festival: Day Three – live review
Bring Me The Horizon © Emily Marcovecchio

There was an extra treat when another local star Yungblud bounded onstage to match Sykes scream for scream on their collaboration Obey as they banished once and for all memories of being bottled off by idiots at Reading in 2008. If there’s one band from this festival who might be outside your normal musical comfort zone that you should buy a ticket for then it’s Bring Me The Horizon, who know exactly how to put on a big, big show.

Finally, over on East Stage it was the band most people had been waiting for as Arctic Monkeys played their first headline slot at this festival since 2014, and you could feel the anticipation humming in the air.  Would they deliver and what would they deliver? The hits, or more obscure numbers, and, in reality, it was a bit of both.

Most bands would kill for an opener like Do I Wanna Know? in an instant sea of camera phones as Alex Turner in casual jacket and modelling a much more shaggy quiff these days trashed away at his teardrop guitar as the crowd went nuts.  It’s a mistake to see this as just the Turner show as this is a very well drilled band, with two keyboard players, and his old schoolmate Matt Heiders in a Hawaiian shirt powerful bashing away on the kit.

The pace was kept high with a pulsating Brainstorm and a rocking Teddy Picker.  Turner’s happy to throw a few shapes, but for such an experienced performer he isn’t much of a conversationalist and, in fact, he opted he make most of his limited interactions in the style of an old-fashioned compere at a working men’s club. Despite the band’s energy, the pace sagged a little in the middle with the more moody tunes Potion Approaching and The View From The Afternoon.

Leeds Festival: Day Three – live review
Arctic Monkeys © Matt Eachus

There had been some debate whether they’d tackle tracks from their ambitious last album Tranquillity Base Hotel + Casino, but the title track worked really well live, and seemed to lift their energy again. They have an album, Car, coming out soon so they dropped a new track, I’m Not Quite Where I Think I Am, which suggests a return to some of their earlier records after the sci-fi-influenced last one.

It was an absolute delight to hear their breakthrough hit I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor, which they played with the respect it deserved, before an absolutely belting 505 which prompted one of the audience to propose to his partner. It was that sort of show where emotions were high all night as Arctic Monkeys proved that they are still one of our best bands full of invention and power, even if they prefer to let the music do the talking most of the time.

It seemed fitting the cream of Yorkshire ended a three festival that had decided to shake its line up to make it more diverse, and managed on the whole to deliver a bill that was both challenging and entertaining. The big takeaway from Leeds Festival is that a new generation of mainly young music fans feel in love with the unique communal magic of the live experience, which can only be a good thing in our fast-moving digital age.


Words by Paul Clarke, you can see his author profile here


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