Photo: Shirlaine Forrest
Leeds Festival 2012 has come and gone with three solid days of incredible acts, a dose of unpredictable weather and a whole bunch of breasts caught onscreen.
Being one of the Friday’s first acts the eccentric Eagles of Death Metal took to the mainstage. Lead singer Jesse Hughes turned his flirt on dedicating songs to the ladies and being as American as you could possibly get with a bunch of ‘hallelujahs’ and ‘amens’ thrown about. Stomping around stage, 'Cherry Cola' and classic 'I Want You So Hard' racked up crazy cheers.
The Gaslight Anthem powered through a heartfelt yet powerful set with 'Great Expectations' and 'The ‘59 Sound' showcasing the raw and rough vocals of lead singer Brian Fallon brilliantly.
A highlight came from All Time Low came when their frontman asked the audience to sing happy birthday to their friend Danny before launching into a high octane and ridiculously catchy set: 'Time Bomb' and 'I Feel Like Dancin’' received a massive crowd reaction from an excitable and largely teenage crowd who responded well to their jokey demeanour throughout.
Storming through a well-balanced mix of old and new Bullet For My Valentine’s set kept the audience screaming along and moshing throughout. 'All These Things I Hate', 'Tears Don’t Fall' and 'The Last Fight' were standouts with the band performing all with an impressive level of gusto.
Over at the NME tent SBTRKT rang out his unique electronic plinky sound with Sampha’s stunning vocals accompanying, keeping people in the rammed tent jumping. A medley of 'Living Like I Do' and 'Hold On' had the crowd chanting along enjoying a dazzling drum solo mid song from Sampha. 'Something’s Not Right', 'Never Never' and 'Wildfire' got the biggest reaction marked by the spate of mini mosh pits.
Headliners Black keys ripped through an energetic and soulful rock set opening with 'Howlin’ For You'. Their bluesy sound and buzzing guitar riffs echoed through the arena with everyone screaming along to the infectious 'Lonely Boy'. 'Strange Times' was another crowd pleaser with the band letting the music do the speaking for them as they powered on delivering a strong set with lyrics belted out sincerely.
Being renowned for knowing how to put on a show Foo Fighters proved it by closing the opening night spectacularly, fireworks included. Entertaining the crowd beyond musical genius the band had fans eating out of the palm of their hand throughout a marathon two and a half hour set having several conversations and at one point smooching a blow up doll. Taking the audience through a journey of their 18 year career there wasn’t a dull moment as the crowd took it all in. Standouts were 'All My Life', 'My Hero' and 'Monkey Wrench' when the band all got offstage and mingled with the crowd. Grohl allowed himself to revel in the moment during 'Best Of You' while listening to thousands of people harmonising at him. During the 4-song encore Oueen drummer Roger Taylor’s son Rufus showed musical ability can be passed down by rumbling through a cover of Tie Your Mother Down.
On the Saturday Bombay Bicycle Club played a chilled out set which had the crowd flocking to hear but then proceed to sit as they enjoyed the bit of sun.
At the NME tent The Hives put on a theatrical performance with a opening reminiscent of a House of Horrors thanks to a menacing backdrop, creepy music and red lighting. The band emerged in top hats and coat tails freezing deadly still for a good 30 seconds in the middle of 'Tick Tick Boom'. Lapping up attention and playing up for the crowd lead singer Pelle Almqvist regularly jumped offstage to fans’ delight.
Paramore performed a strong set with material from all albums with Hayley Williams addressing “band soap operas” before launching into a high energy set complete with her jumping across the stage and tons of head banging. Standouts were 'The Only Exception' and 'That’s What You Get' which saw everyone go from one extreme of swaying to manically jumping around and screaming. A great moment came during 'Misery Business' when Williams brought on a fan she had met in the signing tent to sing with her causing massive cheers.
Saturday night headliners The Cure put on a haunting and commanding show filled to the brim with 80s classics and Robert Smith appearing complete with his trademark hair and a sequin jacket. Simple understated lighting and an intimate show wound the crowd down nicely from the day’s more rowdy acts. Standouts were classic 'Friday I’m in Love', 'The Love Cats' and 'Just One Kiss' which all had the audience mesmerized.
The Maccabees graced the NME stage performing fan favourites 'First Love', 'X-Ray' and downtempo 'Love You Better' which went down a treat. The band engaged the crowd well without having to put on a massive show and the humility of lead singer Orlando Weeks was refreshing in between songs.
On the final day audiences were treated to brilliant performances by Mystery Jets whose lead singer had to hobble on with crutches and sit throughout, and The Vaccines who had people frantically dancing during standout track If You Wanna complete with an unexpected blast of sunshine and pints in hand.
American rap collective Odd Future were a marmite affair engaging an impressive audience but some on the outskirts sat looking unsure of what they were witnessing. Spitting tongue twisting lyrics the band’s penchant for controversial behaviour was lived up to as they brought on a tied up blow up doll called Kimberly which frontman Tyler the Creator punched and threw beer on. The crowd however loved the set and bass was cranked up notably for Yonkers which was received ridiculously well.
Florence and the Machine put on a beautiful and ethereal performance with Florence dressed in a net, floor length dress which she laughed about having to readjust after leaping around and performing so energetically and also barefoot. She connected with her audience effortlessly belting out haunting vocals. Highlights were 'Rabbit Heart' where she urged people to get on each others’ shoulders, wailed out spectacular notes and jumped offstage singing to audience members and had one over excited fan smack her bottom during 'Spectrum'. A breathtaking performance of 'Heartlines' brought many a viewer to tears.
Kasabian fulfilled the tall order of closing Leeds with an incredible set with some slightly reworked tracks. Tom Meighan powered through classics which saw moshpits, head banging and chants from an incredibly thrilled audience. Processed Beats and Empire arguably saw one of the loudest crowd echoes of the weekend. Dedicating 'Let’s Roll' to Neil Armstrong while the ET theme played was a nice touch and during 'Take Aim' a lone trumpeter rang out the opening chords and Sergio took to the mic in place of Tom bringing on huge cheers. Covers of Fatboy Slim’s 'Praise You' and a bit of The Beatles’ 'She Loves You' also pleased.
Fans dressed in skeleton costumes came on during a brilliant extended version of Fire which bought a stellar set and weekend to a worthy close.