Live Music + Gig Reviews

Leeds Festival 2006, Day 3 @ Branham Park, Leeds

27 August 2006

The third and final day of the Leeds Festival, and we began in a rather smug and self-congratulatory mood by reflecting on how the rain had stayed away all weekend. The phrase ‘don’t speak too soon’ would never be more appropriate by the end of the day… (JM)

We began the day with Giant Drag who were showcasing their latest EP, Lemona in the NME/Radio 1 Tent, and proving recent claims that singer Annie Hardy is a musical genius. The rumours of rain later that evening didn’t seem to dampen spirits, especially when faced with the prospect of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! who seemed to be shocked by the whole experience. CYHSY! are a paradox of young faces and mature voices telling tales of a miss spent youth and of drug taking but then again so were most of the audience. (DM)

The much anticipated Futureheads tried in vain to win the crowd over with their quirky harmonies and jerky guitars but ultimately failed to impress. Even crowd favourites, such as Hounds Of Love and Skip To The End, swirled around in the wind and failed to impress the demanding crowd. (DM)

On the other side of the site, Milburn brought an army of friends from the city of Sheffield and created a party of their own. Having built up a fan-base through the internet, pretty much every song was greeted with rapturous cheers and synchronized singing from the first note to the last. (DM)

At the NME/Radio 1 stage, Nashville teenagers Be Your Own Pet had drawn a very respectable crowd. They may come from the state of Dolly Parton et al, but that’s the only thing they have in common with the Queen of Country Music. Raw, rough garage rock is BYOP’s forte, and in Jemima Pearl they’ve got a charismatic frontwoman. She’s full of energy, running all over the stage and finishing the set by collapsing in a bear hug with her three bandmates – despite guitarist Jonas Stein’s pleas to the audience to “save me some weed”, she’s the main focal point. Sadly, apart from Damn Damn Leash and Let’s Get Sandy, a lot of BYOP’s songs seem to mesh into one big noise, and the overall effect is rather exhausting. A diverting watch, but maybe a bit early in the day. (JM)

Over to the Carling Stage for GoodBooks, who must be cursing their luck that the similarly named Good Shoes have emerged at about the same time. Luckily, this should be the only obstacle in their path to success, as their songs are something truly special. The jerky, angular rhythms are present and correct, but they have enough of a personality of their own to stop them being dismissed as Bloc Party copyists. Present single Turn It Back went down very well, and a smart bet could be placed now on them having a very respectable slot over at the NME/Radio 1 stage this time next year. You heard it here first folks. (JM)

At the main stage, it was time for Carl Barat to make his first Leeds Festival appearance since the demise of The Libertines. Barat recently broke his collar bone in a motorcycle accident, but didn’t let this stop him, wrapping his arm up in a sling and obviously putting his heart and soul into proceedings. Starting off with Deadwood, they raced through their set and caused much frenzied dancing in the audience, especially during the fantastic You Fucking Love It. Barat even dusted off a couple of old Libertines numbers, Death On The Stairs and I Get Along, and although it was a bit weird seeing him sing them without Pete Doherty stood beside him, it was still a gesture that went down extremely well with the crowd. Although I still say that Bang Bang You’re Dead is a dead-ringer for Oasis‘ Digsy’s Dinner. (JM)

We returned to the Carling Stage for Delaware’s Spinto Band, who seem to have a happy knack of producing some truly great guitar pop songs. Oh Mandy and Did I Tell You are so addictive they should come with a Government health warning, so their set was much anticipated. Unfortunately, they were somewhat irritating during their performance – whether it was the perma-grinning, head shaking guitarist or the fact that not that many of their songs are as good as the aforementioned two singles, the Spintos were a tad disappointing. (JM)

With our feet cursing beneath us, it was time for the trudge back to the main stage where The Streets were performing. In common with most rap groups, they can be a odd proposition live, consisting as they do of a bloke running around basically shouting at people. Yet Skinner’s personality and charisma over-rode the slightly dubious musical performance – whether he was beseeching the audience to “go low” (i.e kneel down on the ground before jumping up again) or telling the men in the audience to take their shirts off and use it as a flag, he owned the stage. Fit But You Know It was a great singalong moment, and it was nice to be reminded why Dry Your Eyes is one of the finest songs written during the last decade. A success, much against expectations. (JM)

The Arctic Monkeys have passed into Leeds Festival folklore since last year’s performance at the Carling Stage. Drawing the biggest crowd ever, they produced a frenzied reaction to songs that hadn’t even been released, and made the music press sit up and take notice of them. So it came to pass that, just 12 months later, they were the penultimate act on the main stage – which also just happened to be their final show of the year. (JM)

Alex Turner, sporting a bushy new hairdo (which made him look a deadringer for the Mighty Boosh’s Noel Fielding) was as nonchalant as ever, barely glancing up at the crowd before launching into I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor to the predictable mayhem of the crowd. Although there were complaints from some quarters that Turner wasn’t interacting with the crowd much, he never really has done – this is a band who just lets their music do the talking. All the crowd favourites, including Fake Tales Of San Francisco, When The Sun Goes Down and Still Take You Home were present and correct, and the more that Leave Before The Lights Come On is heard, the more you’re convinced that it could be their finest moment yet. (JM)

New bassist Nick O’Malley (his predecessor Andy Nicholson was spotted backstage) slotted into place just nicely, and overall this was a set that proved that any backlash is very wide of the mark. By the time A Certain Romance took its traditional place as the set closer, even Turner looked rather moved at the crowd’s reaction. Maybe they’d have been even better headlining the NME/Radio 1 tent, but the amount of people who flocked to the main stage more than justified their place on the bill. (JM)

As we waited for the climax to the festival, a few spots of rain appeared. And then some more. And then the heavens really opened. Which, given the apocalyptic nature of much of Muse‘s music made a strange kind of sense. Matt Bellamy and his bandmates eventually appeared and everyone forgot about the rain – as this was one of the finest live performances that I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness. (JM)

Beginning with a stirring Knights Of Cydonia (with slogans such as “we must fight for our right to survive” plastered on the big neon screens that acted as a backdrop), Muse ran through some of the highlights of their four albums with an absolutely stunning light show as accompaniment. Bellamy proved once again that he’s close to a musical genius – not only can he thrash at the guitar like a rock god, he can quickly switch to the piano to lay down a motif that Chopin would be proud of. (JM)

Hysteria and Stockholm Syndrome were undoubted highlights, while their superb cover version of Nina Simone‘s Feeling Good was introduced with “this is what the rain feels like” (which is all very well for Mr Bellamy, protected as he was by the stage, but try telling that to those of us afflicted by ‘flu several days later…). The newer material was also greeted like an old friend, with Starlight, Invincible and Supermassive Black Hole already sounding like Muse classics. (JM)

Finishing with a superlative Take A Bow (complete with a spectacular explosion of jets of fire at the song’s end), Muse certainly finished the Leeds Festival on a high. It was so good in fact that the crowd didn’t want to leave, chanting “we want more” for what seemed like an eternity before eventually breaking into a spontaneous round of applause when they realised that was indeed our lot. (JM)

It was a glorious, if rather wet, end to a superb weekend and rumour has it that there wasn’t even any of the traditional riots and tent burning of previous years. As we left the site, speculating on potential 2007 headliners, one thing was sure – next August Bank Holiday can’t come soon enough… (JM)

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