Leeds Festival 2010 (27th-29th of August)


Friday, somewhere in the Yorkshire countryside, late morning. The sun is by some miracle shining, everyone is looking up at the blue sky with suspicion, as if thinking “surely this can’t last…”. For the Mystery Jets conditions are perfect, with sunny new track Serotonin coming off particularly well. Same is true for Dizzee Rascal. Nobody is more reliable when it comes to pleasing a British festival crowd.

I hear The Libertines set was pretty strong, if you’re into that kind of thing. For yours truly, Berliners Atari Teenage Riot were more like it. Elephantine genre clashing beats and squalls. Which kind of spoils the ears for Arcade Fire doing their epic, life changing routine. Ah well.

Much of Saturday is spent hiding from the likes of Limp Bizkit and You Me At Six with a few similar minded souls in the dance tent. Health’s way with noise stuns, jaws drop all round. Four Tet prompts a sea of thoughtfully bobbing heads, and Metronomy are peerless at the tight, guitar-goes-dance thing.

Darkness falls, the tent fills to bursting point, a giant cage covered in flashing lights is wheeled on stage and is subsequently filled by Magnetic Man. Skream, Benga and Artwork’s respective solo work has trained them well. Every beat, every rise and fall, is perfectly placed to make one massive boozed up crowd go wild. At the other end of the musical spectrum, Blink 182 achieve similar results. Who knew messy skate-punk held such a special place in so many people’s hearts?

Sunday is hard day. Biffy Clyro give a reliably taut set, while Queens Of The Stone Age bring the laconic, macho riffs. Everyone in music-dom knows by now about the car crash that was Guns ‘N’ Roses. Half an hour after supposed kick off and there is no show. Everyone is trying to keep themselves from boredom and hypothermia by starting small bonfires, while security run around with fire extinguishers looking panicked. I watch one song. It’s off Chinese Democracy, and Axl Rose’s voice is feeble. You just know things aren’t going to improve. Much better to join the relatively thin crowd of sensible people who have opted for LCD Soundsystem instead. James Murphy is in endearingly neurotic, party-starting mode, and three great albums make for a near perfect set. No disappointment. Beats just owned guitars.

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