Gig Review: Leeds Festival, Sunday 28th August 2005

editors picdinosaur jr picThe Kills picarcade fire pic

The previous day’s drinking had extended into the early hours back at camp so we did well to make it down to the NME Tent on the Sunday morning in time to see the first band of the day take the stage at 11:30am. Louie were brash, shouty and ultimately obnoxious and fully deserved their place at the bottom of the bill. Editors, who followed them, will probably be headlining this tent next year, and were on fine form, their dark, moody pop winning much appreciation from an impressive midday crowd. An intense “Bullets” was a highlight along with the epic “Camera” and “Fingers In The Factories”, two of the stand out tracks from their excellent debut album The Back Room. Editors have come a long, long way since we saw them at the Night & Day in January in front of about 30 people.

Another band we saw at the Night & Day earlier this year were Clor and they were on next over at the Carling Tent. This was Clor at their most linear and accessible, which is what you want for a festival crowd. The sound mix was excellent as they ran through a selection of the most poptastic nuggets from their eponymous debut. The singles really stood out with “Outlines” and newie “Good Stuff” going down well with an expectant crowd, but it was “Love + Pain”, a song which has it’s own dance moves, which really hit the spot.

We returned to the Main Stage to bask in the on/off sunshine while Roots Manuva did his thing. I’m not a fan but it was a pleasant distraction from the relentless indie assault that we’d put ourselves through for the last three days. And here’s another one. It’s the legendary Dinosaur Jr, their classic line-up of J. Mascis, Lou Barlow and Murph reformed to remind us all how great You’re Living All Over Me was all those years ago. I hadn’t forgotten and got down the front as JustHipper chose to keep a safe distance from Mascis’s scary Gandalf The White hair-do. Anyway, they rocked with a set mostly culled from the aforementioned YLAOM as well as a few nuggets from Dinosaur and Bug. The rifftastic “The Lung” was an early winner with Mascis pulling out all the stops on his guitar, while a bruising “Bulbs Of Passion” kept things bubbling over with Lou Barlow clearly enjoying every minute. Barlow’s grinding bass and Murph’s pounding drums were an excellent backdrop over which Mascis was able to sprinkle his own unique brand of slacker guitar magic. “Sludgefeast” and “Budge” were sure-fire fan pleasers but I could sense the rest of the crowd becoming a more and more restless after each of Mascis’s increasingly lengthy solo forays. The closing duo of the more succinct and tuneful “Just Like Heaven” and “Freak Scene” were finely judged and sent me, at least, away happy and looking forward to seeing them again if they deign to do a proper tour over here.

We arrived back at the NME Tent in time to catch The Kills, who are always watchable live, even if their on-stage chemistry sometimes goes a bit over the line (I mean, get a room, guys. Or a tent). I’ve hated Hot Hot Heat with a passion since we saw them at the Ritz in April but was prepared to give them a second chance, not least because I was stuck where I was waiting for The Arcade Fire to come on. Now I hate them even more.

Then: The Arcade Fire. Lined up along the front of the stage they all, all seven or eight of them, minus the drummer maybe as he was back behind his kit, burst into the opening vocal refrain of “Wake Up”, and it was a magic, magic moment, the energy and intensity of the delivery inducing an immediate euphoria in the 10,000 strong crowd crammed into the huge tent. This set the tone for what was a remarkable performance by Canada’s finest as they made their way through some choice cuts from Funeral as well as “Headlights Look Like Diamonds” and the excellent “No Cars Go” from their debut EP. “Neighborhood #2 (Laika)” was simply stunning, a manic Win Butler making his way over the barrier and briefly into the crowd before being dragged back by security. There was so much going on on stage that it was almost a relief when things quietened down with “Haiti” and an achingly beautiful “Crown Of Love”. The finale of “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)” and “Rebellion (Lies)” brought to an end what was possibly the greatest festival set I’ve seen, ever, and, judging from the delirious reaction of the crowd, I won’t be alone in saying that.

Getting out of the tent after all this was another matter as scores of idiot Babyshambles fans bullied their way towards the front of the stage, trampling all in their path, and leading to young girls having to be dragged over the barrier by security to allow them to get outside. We chose to grab a bite to eat and meet up with a couple of the guys from camp rather than watch the mess of human existance that is Pete Doherty. The NME Tent was again packed for this though I suspect that most people were there to see if a) Doherty would turn up in the first place, or b) he would overdose on stage. Sadly only a) happened.

While JustHipper ended the festival in the company of her current faves The Tears, I chose to check out The Go! Team in the Carling Tent and was pleasantly surprised. Their eclectic mix of soul, beats and 70’s theme tunes was a refreshing change and front woman Ninja was eminently watchable as she cajoled the crowd into singing, dancing and generally having a great time. The frequent appearance of four girls in cheerleader uniforms to perform backing vocals and dancing duties only served to enhance the feelgood factor and there was a palpable disappointment in the air when the music finally stopped and everyone realised that that was it: end of festival. A fitting end to a great weekend.

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