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In Review: Leeds Festival 2018

In Review: Leeds Festival 2018

Stefan Gandhi | Reviews

Dry weather and pumped up festival goers took to the grounds of Bramham Park, near Wetherby, as the legendary Leeds Festival was ready to go off for the incredible bill of artists announced to be playing on the Saturday lineup. Following a headline appearance from Kings of Leon on the Friday, the festival site was ready to go for what would be one crazy weekend of music for some of the greatest musical acts on the planet.

It’s often not easy be one of the first acts on the bill but Rae Morris would certainly be the exception to this rule as she took to the BBC Radio 1 Stage in her white overalls and bubbly personality that instantly had the crowd hooked. Starting with ‘Lower The Tone’, the atmosphere was put in place for the rest of her set as she played tracks from her latest 2018 album release, Someone Out There, a sound for the Blackpool singer-songwriter that has evolved over the past few years into something more playful and mature since her debut release Unguarded back in 2015. Beloved with feedback in the form of huge cheers by the end of her final song ‘Rose Garden’, Rae Morris has come a long way since her first ever festival appearance in 2011 and fans alike at the show flocked into the large tent to catch the songstress for something that was simply epic beyond words.

Hyped up before Leeds Festival as the “ones to watch”, Brighton-based band Yonaka turned things up for the crowd with their edgy guitar riffs, the powerhouse vocals of lead singer Theresa Jarvis and some rather strong lyrics that inspired listeners to do what you like and be a badass. With support from BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens, the critically-acclaimed release of their EP Teach Me To Fight, as well as a number of recent summer festival appearances including Citadel Festival, the band on this particular day had the crowd singing along to the lyrics of ‘Waves’ and ‘Fired Up’, alongside their ultimate head banger single ‘Teach Me To Fight’ that had people running into the tent and jumping along to its heavy chorus. Compared to other major acts like Wolf Alice and Royal Blood, there is still room on the stage for a punk band with this appeal to a younger audience that knows how to put on a good show.

Ahead of the release of their fifth studio album titled Let’s Go Sunshine, The Kooks fire the Main Stage into life with a combination of new and classic material that has long been awaited by indie fans that were ready for a UK band who are still at the top of their game a decade after the release of Inside In / Inside Out. Despite the heavy rain, it didn’t look like anything would stop the crowd from getting their money’s worth this weekend as they rallied together for the band’s set. With screams and singing along to some of their finest singles including ‘Naive’, ‘Ooh La’, ‘She Moves In Her Own Way’ and a stripped back acoustic performance of ‘Seaside’, the band also played one of the newest singles ‘Four Leaf Clover’ to a great applause from the audience. We expect more exciting things to come from this iconic British rock band in the future once the new album hits on Friday 31st August.

Nothing But Thieves have been on the scene for a while now and there happened to be much talk from festival goers throughout the day that were putting this band into motion as a group with no limits to their sound, and this was quickly evident as they had no problem making up mosh pits with the first drop of ‘I Was Just A Kid’. With the sun beginning to set, Nothing But Thieves had all the elements of a perfect festival headliner: memorable lyrics for singalongs, great stage presence and an all round eclectic selection of songs that got crowds of people moving on a Saturday night. In addition to the world-class performance of frontman Conor Mason, the packed-out tent alone was a testament into showing what this band has accomplished in building a loyal fanbase. Featuring fan favourites from the likes of ‘Sorry’, ‘Trip Switch’ and closing track ‘Amsterdam’, whether you were new to the band or already a hardcore fan, it was difficult to not like this Essex five-piece collective after what was definitely one of the highlights of Leeds Festival 2018.

It would be hard to find someone nowadays who hasn’t heard of the name Fall Out Boy, and based off the crowd reaction of the initial bang that kicked off their unbelievable set of stadium rock anthems, no one were planning on taking it easy for what would be an exceptional performance from the American rock band. Filled with explosions for those big climaxes, a flamethrower on the end of Pete Wentz’s bass guitar, and a stage lighting that put audiences in awe, you couldn’t help but be impressed by the effort on the production side that had gone into making the band’s headline set that extra special on the night. The group have a wide portfolio of tracks to choose from which couldn’t have been easy, but they nailed it for this show with new and old tracks that let the mayhem loose on the Leeds folk. The best reception from fans expectedly came from renown singles such as ‘Sugar, We’re Going Down’, ‘Uma Thurman’, ‘Dance, Dance’, alongside crowd chant alongs for ‘Thnks fr th Mmrs’, ‘I Don’t Care’ and their famous Michael Jackson cover of ‘Beat It’. Complimented by a host of fireworks, the band finished the set with ‘Centuries’ before shaking things up with an encore to follow that had people jumping up and down to the vibes of ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)’.

Sunday saw everyone succumb to that much loved British summer rain throughout the day, but this still didn’t stop an army of youth take to the festival for the final day with their wellies and rain jackets.

Some may call him the black horse of Leeds Festival 2018, Mike Shinoda is best renowned by fans worldwide for his involvement with award-winning rock band Linkin Park, which served as a big theme throughout his set and a deep touching point that also runs into the lyrics of his new solo album, Post Traumatic. With signs in the audience displaying messaging like ‘Make Chester Proud’ - which is in relation to the passing of the late Chester Bennington - the set was organised in a way so it felt like it was a dedication to upholding his memory. By arranging songs from his new solo release throughout his set, Shinoda started with ‘Petrified’ from his Fort Minor project and had fans of his old material hooked with their hands raised in the air. Also performing Linkin Park songs by himself was quite an experience for all those present, as it showed the true virtuoso musicianship of Shinoda on ‘When They Come For Me’ and ‘Castle Of Glass’ that sees the artist rap, sing, as well as play guitar, keyboard and electronic drum pads. The most memorable highlight to his set though came with the magic of ‘In The End’, where Shinoda had the audience participate by singing Chester’s parts, leaving people crying to the words. From what it seems, the rain was welcome at this live performance as it made for a more unique showcase of demonstrating this one act’s talent.

Sum 41 haven’t been to Leeds Festival in 15 years, and with it being a younger demographic who are best known for attending the annual festival, it was easy for the Ontario rock band to lift the energy for the teen audience with their fast-paced guitar riffs, hard-hitting drums, and pop hooks with the set opener of classic track ‘The Hell Song’. Frontman Deryck Whibley had no problem showing off his carefree attitude that reminds fans why the group were one of the biggest rock bands in the noughties, especially when the crowd lost control on songs like ‘In Too Deep’. Guitarist Dave Baksh killed it with guitar solos that were easily some of the most impressive over the Sunday on the Main Stage; plus, the group pleased the audience with their Queen rendition of ‘We WIll Rock You’, which was a risky move but the boldness of the judgement to add it into their set paid off with the British crowd chanting along at the top of their lungs. Just when you thought it was over with ‘Fat Lip’, Sum 41 then surprises everyone with a live cover of Linkin Park’s ‘Faint’ that brings Mike Shinoda onto the stage one more time to help with the rap parts at this monumental moment in Leeds Festival history.

A dramatic intro from the backing band set the intensity of the festival before Dua Lipa took to the stage with ‘Blow Your Mind’, a track that did just that for watching fans who had already filled the front stage area in preparation for this highly-anticipated set from the ‘she boss’. Wearing pink trackies and a blazer, the international popstar had fans screaming along to a well-thought out list of pop classics from her material, including ‘Be The One’, ‘Hotter Than Hell’, as well as ‘One Kiss’ by Calvin Harris and Martin Garrix’s ‘Scared To Be Lonely’. Dua Lipa also performed her heartbreak anthem ‘IDGAF’, which had her fans sing word-for-word to the lyrics before closing the set with her biggest tune to date, ‘New Rules’.

Revealed as a last-minute addition to the lineup in the week prior to the festival itself, rap-rock group N.E.R.D - made up of Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo and Shay Haley - brought the house down with their classic beats that brought about a set that was nothing short of spectacular. It’s one thing to have the opportunity to catch Williams onstage doing his thing as an industry figure and making crowds jump at his command, but to hear a collection of songs like ‘She Wants To Move’, ‘Rockstar’, ‘Lapdance’ and ‘Lemon’, this performance of their hits raised the level of the weekend from great to legendary. Dropping some medleys also produced by The Neptunes (comprised of production duo Williams and Hugo), fans were given the chance to jam out to ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’ and even the most recent global chart-topping single ‘Apeshit’ performed by Beyoncé and Jay-Z (AKA The Carters). Including a White Stripes bass-heavy cover of ‘Seven Nation Army’, the group successfully killed their Main Stage takeover and now we just ask the question… should we expect to see a new album from the dynamic trio in the near future?

Possibly one of the hottest acts on the planet right now, Kendrick Lamar brought his renowned The Damn Tour to Reading and Leeds Festival for one weekend, something that is going to be a moment anyone will regret who is a fan of the rapper that couldn’t make either festival. With the visuals of Kung Fu Kenny cutscenes clips during the intervals that portray the rapper as a superhero on a journey throughout different parts of his set, festival goers were entertained by the moving image elements of the show outside the music. With the sound of a loud bang and white lasers streaming off into the already black skies, this was the big moment everyone in the crowd had been waiting for. With huge tune ‘DNA’ at the forefront of his set initiated by the first words "I got, I got, I got, I got loyalty…", the festival’s audience was drawn to every word that came out of the rapper’s mouth with a minimalist stage setup that saw Lamar by himself; however, his incredible presence was more than enough to keep your attention from wavering with lyrics and technical skills that have put him amongst the best in the industry over recent years. Crowds were left satisfied with tracks such as ‘King Kunta’, ‘Loyalty’, ‘Money Trees’ and the chance of chanting "drank" along to ‘Swimming Pools (Drank)’. In an attempt to create something more interesting, the Compton-raised artist also turned down the stage lights and had the crowds of people raise their phone flashlights into the air for what would make for a very intimate performance of ‘PRIDE’. Closing his set with a magical acapella version of ‘Humble’ before going into the full live version, festival goers were left wanting more as the lights went down. In true headline style, Kendrick Lamar returned for an encore with the perfect festival closer and fan favourite ‘Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe’. High praise goes out to the organisers behind Leeds Festival for securing Kendrick Lamar as part of what made for a fantastic August bank holiday weekend event in Yorkshire.

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In Review: Leeds Festival 2018

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