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Leeds Festival

By Rachael Reardon

After packing the advised essentials (a minimum of 4 toilet rolls and as much beer as I can carry) I lug my arse down to my first ever Leeds Fest! 

I’m one of those people that stay in and listen to music, choosing only to venture out at times of crisis – i.e. I’ve run out of ciggies. So imagine my limping bunny in head-lights expression when I find myself surrounded by about 60,000 (give or take a thousand or so) other music lovers. I decide to make meself busy, get the tent up, have a beer it will all be fine…

Crack* and the Carling is opened! And too f***ing right after trying to put up my bastard of a tent while it insists on trying to blow away in gale force winds. Ahh..
Its at this point that some tit of a security guard reckons he will tell around 50 tent putter uppers to move our arses as “you cant pitch here” – “are you f***ing jokin mate?”. By his face, I came to the conclusion that he was indeed being serious and thought I would ska-daddle before I got the ‘don’t talk to me like that young lady’ lecture. 

After dragging my tent about 2 miles or so up several hills of the new Festival location, Bramham Park, I am officially pissed off. I dunno why I reckoned Leeds would be stress free, but it’s a proper blag getting sorted; subsequently, when my temporary home is up and running like a bitch, I’m close to crying tears of extreme joy. 

After drinking one too many beers I hop my enthusiastic arse over to the toilets with the view that “its only the first day – they cant be that bad”. HO HO! HO HO indeed! Now, I am not naturally crude, but let me tell you – I actually saw someone drop a log in the metallic cube of a toilet next me! This is not good. This is not good at all. Luckily I have the comfort of ‘Permission To Land’ (my favourite record at the minute – but we’ll come to that later) being played in the tent next to me. 

In fact, whilst I’m on the subject I may as well start right there. f*** leaving the best till last. I’m too excited at the prospect of getting you all to check out this awesome band. 

The Darkness are from Lowestoft in London and the story goes that after playing in bands for other people, and making tea for fat cat music company goers, The Darkness finally hit the big time; when Guitarist Dan Hawkin’s realized his brother, Justin, had the voice of a messiah after hearing him do ‘Bohemiam Rhapsody’ on karaoke. 

And so The Darkness mania of the UK began. Whether to worship or to ‘not take too seriously’, everyone over here is going f***ing ape over these guys. 

Justin’s now trademark zebra-print leotard cat suits (phew!), and tingling shrills have earned him the name of the ‘Straight Freddie Mercury’. What a guy.

‘Get Your Hands Off My Woman (Motherf***er)’ is all good, old-skool rock n roll. ‘You cunnnt! Get your hands off my woman motherf***er, Ow!’ was heard for miles around as fans tried to tackle the sexy declarations of the man himself. 

They have the rock n roll attitude of AC/DC, the style and sexiness of Queen, and that secret factor that every band longs for, that invisible force that takes your breath away and leaves you with the distressingly inadequate “I dunno what it is. But they are f***ing awesome”. 

When they bound onto the Main Stage a day earlier than confirmed, The Darkness have every one of us eating from the palm of their hands like sparrows on the Slim-Fast diet.

Justin comically tries to get the crowd to reach the falsetto notes on the incredible ‘Love On The Rocks (With No Ice)’. A cowboy-western twinged intro, wonderful old-skool riffage and solo’s that put ‘Appetite for Destruction’ to shame, lead to every hand in the air, clapping along in rhythm. 

‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’s swaggering grooves and metal licks reassure any doubtful minds that good time rock n roll is BACK. 

The Darkness have managed to bring back from the dead those precious rock n roll songs that even the shyest prune of a rocker would adore to sing in karaoke; as they delve into the world of air guitar, plucking the strings and thrusting their crotch in tandem. 

Now I have that off my chest – let us commence…

Friday

When Hot Hot Heat hit the Radio One stage, the Canadian electro funk-punkers receive a spectacular welcoming roar and I squeal like a hormonal teenager at a (R.I.P.) Take That concert. 

Delighting us with songs from both debut ‘Make Up The Break’ down and earlier EP ‘Knock Knock’ like the up-tempo sing a long ‘This Town’ and the snappy wailage of ‘Le Le Low’, punk tries to dance; and succeeds on all accounts. 

As the jigging and boogying on down to the fair ground keyboard interludes commences, this once small time Victoria BC band can no doubt smell the 80’s tinged love in the air this Friday tea time. 

Mega hit single ‘Bandages’ is held until a rapturous final ending from the Canadian quartet, as the fans who have been shouting ‘play Bandages!’ throughout, have now been bitchslapped into shutting up. After the initial misinterpretations of ‘bag o’ chips’, ‘bag o’jiz’ and the like, right now - even the fashionable retro dressers havin’ a ‘looking cooool’ smoke in the corner, cant keep their lips shut to ‘bandages on my legs and my arms from you’.

There are arguments brewing as I try to con my mate into not watching Death In Vegas and coming to see Radio One headliners instead. I won….

The Music are undeniably one of the best bands to come out of Britain for the last 10 years. Psychadelic rock and reminiscent Zepplin jamming, ‘Take The Long Road’ evokes full-on, old-skool rockage from the packed stage on Friday. A bit of well deserved recognition wouldn’t go amiss from the fat cats by bazzing this band on main stage next year, opening with the twang twanging and ‘heyyy Monday mornin’…’ and pure genius of ‘The People’. Rock on.

Saturday

The Datsuns main stager churns out old-skool rock, with Deep Purple esque solo’s during ‘Lady’, with Led Zepplin influenced riffage and ascending drum hammering in ‘Sittin’ Pretty’. This band is looking to become big time this year, and the loyal fan base here today, only justifies that further.

Disco-rockers Electric Six have definitely lost a lot of their controversial appeal and ‘zsa zsa zsu’ tonight (mainly as most are awaiting Elbow), slamming out the box-hit, but now charm less ‘Danger! High Voltage’. 

Following one hell of a rock n rolling riff, its amusing to see men built like brick s*** houses call out ‘I’ve got something to put in you’ during the comical ‘Gay Bar’, whilst the others not so ‘lost in the music’ start to side step slowly away…

The Polyphonic Spree pummel onto the stupidly small stage (or stupidly large band?) and are undoubtly one hell of a live act. Are they Christian Aid in disguise? Why do they dress like priests? Dunno really, but when they hover into the swoonful ‘Light And Day/Reach For The Sun’ and bewitching ‘Hanging Around The Day’ the crowd go f***ing wild, singing with the Polyphonic flock like a gospel choir on purple haze. 

Despite the rumour that the herd have been dropped by 679 Recordings, its pretty obvious that TPS will heave themselves off their feet (around 70 in total I imagine) and continue with performances that feel like a pure, white-hot cleansing event as our mere teenage worries float off into the oblivion. 

Sunday

I have been creaming in anticipation over punk/hardcore New Yorkers The Movielife, who are somewhat surprised at the outcome of the packed Concrete Jungle Stage when they arrive. 

With unpretentious demure they ask “has any one heard of us before today?”- met with a pantomime ‘oh yes we have!’, roaring cheer. 

For some, the first taste of The Movielife is today; but for the rest of us the dynamic punk rock beats and exuberant riff’s can be only one song…as we sing back to Vinne’s extended mike - ‘I’m walking on glass!!”

The attractiveness of The Movielife compared to fellow label mates such as New Found Glory, is that unlike most, this punk band take their lyrics a tad more seriously; telling tales of love, heartbreak and generally getting f***ed over. Not to dampen to the catchy, happy-go-lucky, shake your body any-which-way–you-like tunes, but to alternatively take a point of listening; instead of taking the band with a pinch of salt. 

One of the best bands by far on Drive-Thru Records, The Movielife appear to be genuinely modest; but with their punk/ska catchy beats and hardcore licks, its not hard to hear why people have stood up and skanked their way up to Leeds Fest to see them. 

Blasting out the glorious ‘Hand Grenade’ from EP ‘…has a gambling problem’, every f***er in the tent is dancing and singing along ‘cuz she’s just a hand grenade, so pull out the pin and throw it back’. Awesome!

You can hear The Mars Volta from a mile off. It sounds like you’ve wandered into a jamming session of a bunch of pilled up weirdo’s. No harm in that mate!

The Mars Volta complete about four songs during their 45 minutes (is any one truly shocked?), including the Cedric howling marathon, breakneck LSD induced ‘Inertiatic Esp’.

Following At The Drive-In, have shimmied 180 degrees to an off the wall, fluctuating riffage and beat sound, which appears hard to react to judging by the little/none movement of the crowd tonight. Just as you get rockin….bam! change of hallucinating riff; shown to perfection during the ‘Eriatarka’ during which most sit there arses down and simply enjoy.

Junior Senior are out to brainwash any unsuspecting victims, with their horrifyingly catchy groove ridden beats like the formidable ‘Move Your Feet’ and the option less group sing song ‘Shake Your Coconuts’. It’s probable some will leave sick off the fun, carefree vibe of Junior Senior. It’s also probable a lot will leave, newfound converts.

The less extrovert Cooper Temple Clause have found their feet since 02’s ‘See Through This And Leave’ and have risen above the initial ‘cool retro haircuts = fashion core’, via a applaud worthy mix of techno rock/ indie and industrial. Check out ‘New Toys’ from up coming release ‘Kick Up The Flames, And Let The Flames Break Loose’, which had the Leeds lot swaying about like stoned hippies at Woodstock.

On a different note are old-time Brit-rockers Blur, who amiably surprise the audience by hammering into past track classic’s such as ‘Song 2’ and the scatterbrained ‘Park life’, appear past it, and regardless of the recent release lovers, they have become almost stale bread – its edible if you’re starvin’ marvin, but it tasted better before. Which is a pity (yet unsurprising considering Albarn’s side projects), for a group that used to stand tough as one of Britain’s essential rock bands; along with the likes of rivals, Oasis.

AFI lead main on the radio one stage on Sunday, churning out the dark punk rock that they are renowned for. WITHOUT A DOUBT this band is main stage next year, complete with heavy riffs and heartfelt enthusiastic vocals a la Davey Havok with a lurid, murky undercurrent shown in the sombre ‘Ever And A Day’. 

Shouting ‘Tarar!’ to the neighbours and giving the V-sign and evil eye to the bogs, I trundle off in the pissing rain. I’m all out. Luckily, I sleep all the way home. Unluckily, I spasm throughout this sleep with nightmarish thoughts of Metallica fan’s well and truly kicking my arse when they read my future review. 

On my final note remember this; THE DARKNESS ROCK ALL!

(don't believe Rachael? Click here to Check out the Darkness eCard with full streams of the songs, music video, news, reviews, photos and more!)

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