Live Reviews

Leeds Festival 2003 @ Bramham Park, Leeds

24 August 2003


In a bid to eliminate the trouble marring the final night of the Leeds leg of last year’s Carling Weekend, organisers Mean Fiddler decided to rid Sunday of any metal bands. Some feared this would make the trouble worse – thankfully a heavy security presence eliminated the threat of trouble. However, what it did leave us with was a weak line-up for the main stage.

The worst performance of the weekend award goes to…Junior Senior. Not because I don’t like them (everyone likes Move Your Feet), but because they were awful. Along with 99.9% I only went to see them for the one song, but even that was butchered live. I was hoping for something uplifting but was left half asleep.

“Everybody rocks at the Gold Chains party” we were told – unfortunately “everyone” was about 40 people who ventured to see this exciting hip-hop act from San Francisco. I was impressed with Gold Chains’ skills of live beat programming and rapping. Gold’s friend Sue was entertaining in an entirely different manner – I don’t know what she was on but I didn’t fancy trying any. I was annoyed that Nada was left out, and also that hardly anyone made the effort to check out such an exciting act.

Mike Skinner took to the main stage, and I was apprehensive whether this would work – so apprehensive in fact that I missed the first 15 minutes of The Streets’ set. What I did see was pretty much what I expected – pockets of enthusiasm amongst the crowd but nothing as full on as their headline set in the dance tent in 2002. Credit where it’s due, and despite being on the verge of losing his voice Mike Skinner did seem to win over a few fans (not that he was that bothered). In his goodbye he thanked all those who bought the album and “for those who haven’t got it, don’t worry ‘cos we’re shit anyway”, which warranted a chuckle.

The Mars Volta – so much hype, so little to back it up. Twice now I’ve seen them, the first time it was only briefly, this time I endured just about the whole set. Which, in fact, was three songs, the 20 minute song before Cut that City, and the 20 minute song after. You certainly have to like them to enjoy them, and to watch a full show without wanting to slap the lead singer for his irritating onstage dancing. They were still better than Junior Senior.

Adam F, famous for his Kaos – The Anti Acoustic Warfare album, took to the decks for a hardcore drum n bass set, with the added bonus of a highly competent M.C. The energy pulsating throughout the dance tent was vibrant and everyone was buzzing – especially us Geordies at the front who were addressed before Leeds whenever the M.C was ‘bigging the crowd up’.

Which led nicely to the Audio Bullys. Despite a grammatically incorrect name these two ‘geezers’ are very talented. So talented that the power gave up on them in the middle of 100 Million. As soon as normal service was resumed the crowd picked up again as anthems like The Things and the highly emotive Turned Away blared through the magnificent sound system in the dance tent, leading up to We Don’t Care which gives a clear message to any ‘haters’.

As for the headliners, well Blur upset me. So much so that I heard three tracks in the middle of their set (Crazy Beat, Brothers and Sisters and Song 2), then left. Don’t get me wrong, I like them very much, but when Song 2 failed to get the crowd going I felt nothing would.

It was a poor ending to a rather good weekend of music, however there was very little trouble afterwards so maybe Mean Fiddler’s plan was a success.


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Leeds Festival 2003 @ Bramham Park, Leeds
Leeds Festival 2003 @ Bramham Park, Leeds
Leeds Festival 2003 @ Bramham Park, Leeds