Live Music + Gig Reviews

Leeds Festival 2003, Day 2 @ Bramham Park, Leeds

23 August 2003

Some bands take themselves too seriously, Bowling for Soup certainly don’t fit into that category. They’re fun. Oh yeah, and they’re funny. Love them or hate them, you couldn’t help but laugh especially when they launched a blow up doll into the crowd. It was promptly popped by someone’s “sharp penis”. The songs were almost secondary to the interaction with the crowd, but reached a peak with sing-along Girl all the Bad Guys Want. They ended their 35 minutes with “a song we stole from some Canadian” and everyone was on their feet when the intro to Bryan Adams’ Summer of ’69 kicked in.

Up next were a band I’m not a huge fan of; Finch. I won’t lie, I don’t know the names of any of their songs – other than Project Mayhem, which they chose to end their slot with. This left many disappointed as they missed out a couple of their more famous tracks but I was more than happy with being able to join in with at least one of their songs.

For the third time in a year I cheered Less Than Jake onto stage, hoping that they would live up to the two previous shows. Thankfully, they did. Strangely, all the crowd pleasers, such as All My Best Friends Are Metal Heads and Gainesville Rock City were played early. However we had been warned that they had something special in store. That special something was completely unexpected and came with their final song (which incidentally I have no idea of the title). We were told the rules of the ‘chicken fight’ – possibly the most dangerous thing I’ve ever been involved with at a concert. Pitt circles with a difference, that difference being you have someone on your shoulders. I doubt security was too pleased with that but any injuries incurred were only minor.

Aaron “Mr Personality” Lewis and his friends were next up. Staind’s set bewildered a few of the uninitiated in the audience with hard rock songs like Mudshovel. They’ve made it very public that they don’t understand why their success at home hasn’t translated over here, often citing Mudshovel as an example of the contrasting receptions they receive. Outside afforded the only crowd interaction while Lewis tuned his acoustic guitar, and It’s Been A While went down a treat but it was a thoroughly disappointing performance. I can only assume Aaron was saving his energy for later in the evening…

Jay Z pulling out with not so much as an excuse or apology was quite frustrating, but it meant The Darkness were moved from their slot early on Sunday to fourth from the top on Saturday and they were so worthy of it. Justin Hawkins is without doubt one of the best front men in music today. His cheeriness and cheekiness put Staind to shame. The Darkness proved why they are the most hyped band in British music, with brilliant tunes like Get Your Hands off My Woman and Givin’ Up, as well as latest single I Believe in a Thing Called Love. After their set I was well and truly converted to the ‘dark side’

Putting bands into genres can be very difficult, thankfully Brian Molko did the hard work for me, as he labelled Placebo a ‘fag-rock’ group. They were lucky to have the majority of the crowd onside before they began, because they were uninspiring to those who were waiting for the later bands. That’s not to say they weren’t good – Pure Morning and Every Me Every You were brilliant – but only to those of us who were waiting for them. They even had a pleasant surprise finishing with a Pixies cover.

After the hugest bottle fight in history Blink 182 took to the stage opening with the infamous Family Reunion before launching into an hour of punk rock. The coming of dusk allowed for extravagant lighting and pyrotechnics, with poor Travis sat in front of a huge flaming ‘fuck’ sign. They played favourites that had the crowd singing along to every word – unfortunately that drowned out the vocals, making Tom and Mark look amateurish. There was also some new material showcased which seemed to be well received, despite not being particularly amazing.

Ever since I got my hands on Hybrid Theory I couldn’t wait to get to see Linkin Park live. Suddenly there they were in front of me, and some 40,000 others. From the second the intro to Meteora welcomed Chester Bennington and company on stage the excitement amongst the crowd was tangible and there was every reason for it. The whole crowd was jumping throughout the set which is no mean achievement for a bunch of ‘sell-outs’, especially considering not even Metallica could boast that. The set was played perfectly and Chester buzzed around the stage making it obvious that he can handle the big arenas.

For such a widely criticised group it was amazing just how many people were so clearly familar with both albums. An amazing performance included every track you would expect to hear, closing with A Place for my Head, featuring Aaron Lewis who put more energy into his 5 minutes on stage with Linkin Park than with his own group.

It must have been an amazing thing to see from the stage and I personally won’t question -too much- the sincerity of the comment ‘this is the highlight of our career’, because in terms of live shows to top that would take something special. Those with tickets for their upcoming tour are in for a treat.

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