Leeds Festival 2008

Well, this weekend I did the annual pilgramage to a wet and muddy field on the outskirts of Leeds for 3 days of gorging on bands. The review shall be along shortly, but as a kind of stopgap, here are my highlights and lowlights of the weekend.


  • Organisation – The disappearance of Carling as the main sponsor this year was most welcome. Mainly because it meant that the almost oppressive air of corporate sponsorship, although still there, was greatly reduced, and also because in the absence of specially erected Carling bars everywhere, the stages were better spaced out. This led to less crowding, and a far nicer atmosphere than in years gone by. Kudos to you, Mean Fiddler and Festival Republic
  • Seasick Steve – A more unlikely festival icon you’d be likely to meet, but this 50something gnarled old bluesman stole the weekend. Whether it be showing off his many customised instruments, telling heart-rending stories about his dead dog or even getting a girl young enough to be his grand-daughter up on stage to serenade, he was utterly spell-binding
  • Glasvegas – Every year there’s a career-defining performance at Leeds/Reading. This was Glasvegas’ year as the chorus to Daddy’s Home was yelled by all and sundry for ages after they’d departed the stage
  • The Cribs – As if Ryan Jarman crowd-surfing wasn’t enough, there was also the delightfully droll introduction of "while Metallica are over there singing about the horned one, this is a song about Wakefield", and the highlight of the entire audience singing I’m A Realist while the sound packed up. And did we mention Johnny Marr was also on stage? Johnny Bloody Marr no less.
  • Florence And The Machine – Kooky. Bonkers. And a future star.
  • Metallica – Even if the music wasn’t to your taste, you could only admire the pyrotechnics, fireworks and flamethrowing that the metal legends brought with them


  • The main stage sound – Honestly, if you book Rage Against The Machine, please don’t make the sound more suited to an unplugged evening with Belle & Sebastian. For those unfortunates at the back, the increasingly riled chant of "turn it up" went unheeded
  • Conor Oberst – Whether it was the half-full tent, or a setlist consisting entirely of tracks from an album that had only just been released, the atmosphere was distinctly flat for the Bright Eyes man
  • Prices – £7 for fish & chips. £4.50 for a tiny burger. £2 for a bottle of water. It’s a old, old complaint, but if someone opened up a discount food caravan on site they’d do a roaring trade.
  • The Killers – As great as that 1st album was, they aren’t headliner material just yet. When you pad your set out with tracks from a B-side and rarities collection, it’s not a great sign. And dodgy jackets as well, boys.

As I say, full review of all 3 days to follow very shortly. But if you were there, what did you think. Leave your comments below.

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