Live Music + Gig Reviews

Leeds Festival 2003, Day 1 @ Bramham Park, Leeds

22 August 2003

The joy of festivals is that while they give you a rare opportunity to satiate your eclectic desires, they also give the option of just kicking back – knowing that should you get bored there’s a few live bands playing for your entertainment.

On the opening Friday, Sugarcult opened the main stage with a raw half hour set showcasing their album Start Static. Songs such as Pretty Girl and Stuck in America showed the group to be worthy of the honour of opening the main stage, and the ridiculously infectious Bouncing of the Walls brought a feel good set to a stunning close.

Moved from Saturday’s Radio One Stage to the main stage were All American Rejects, an unknown entity and judging by their performance they deserve to remain that way. An un-engaging set suggested Mean Fiddler would have been better off keeping them in their original set.

A quick shift to the Smirnoff Experience Dance Stage welcomed us to the joys of Tony Rottenaka Blak Twang. A packed tent lapped up the performance of one of U.K hip-hop’s most valuable assets. The highlight of the set was a stunning remix of Lumidee’s Never Leave, which benefited from the assistance of Est’elle, who also helped with Trixta and one or two other tracks. One of the best acts of the weekend was closed with a song “that should’ve been number one” – So Rotten, with the audience filling in forJah Mali.

The main stage was packed by the time Sum 41 arrived on stage, and frankly they were disappointing. There was none of the energy that emanated from their 2002 showing. However their show was technically sound and the blend of tracks from Does This Look Infected and All Killer No Filler was well thought out, especially given that the majority of the crowd were by now waiting for the two ‘big guns’ to appear.

After Friday night System Of A Down must be dreading U.K festival performances. After the Ozzfest 2002 fiasco they were forced to stop their set for a while due to the crush at the front. However, in a way, this added to the show as the band was forced to ad lib and interact with the crowd while the security barriers were sorted out. Their performance was stunning, stand out tracks were Ieaiaio and Streamline, as well as Sugar, which was intersected with Prison Song to brilliant effect.

While SOAD have built a reputation on being pacifists they overdid it a bit in my opinion with a seemingly endless cry of ‘when the bombs fall where will they run?’ – which grew old very quickly. Good music doesn’t always need to be ‘justified’ in such a manner – it tainted what was an otherwise brilliant show.

Friday night’s headliners Metallica were apparently the sole reason for many of the attendees – going into the show I was ambivalent towards them verging on bitter over the whole Napster debacle. Their performance was good, their songs were played perfectly but there’s something about seven minute metal tracks that doesn’t quite do it for me.

Other than Master of Puppets, it all seemed like one especially long song to me and was a very average performance to the ‘neutral’ observer. Then the pyrotechnics took effect and the fading crowd was woken. Still I wasn’t overly impressed, other than the amazing instrumental solos – but the cynic in me says they have been playing music since well before I was born.

That is until James Hetfield said “Give me an M, gimme an E, gimme a T, gimme an A – gimme fuel, gimme fire, gimme that which I desire”. It was after that, the brilliant one-track encore of Enter Sandman (One was omitted from the set due to time problems) and everything in between that I could see what all the fuss about. The hardcore Metallica fans present were loving it. I was only gutted they didn’t play I Disappear – nonetheless I may find myself downloading (sorry Lars, buying) some of their albums


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