Leeds 2017 was an eclectic culmination of all the elements of the idyllic British festival, even those as ever elusive as consistent sunshine throughout.
Indeed the impressively varied collection of artists and unending enthusiasm from the campers created a bubble in which we could all forget the constraints of offices and mortgages and instead focus upon revelling in the fantastic atmosphere.
There were highlights for all as the main stage alone played host to music of all shapes and sizes from Giggs to Muse allowing all tastes to be catered for.
Friday saw Bramham park play host to bands such as Vant and The Sherlocks as well as a blistering morning secret set from Queens of the Stone Age ahead of their new album “Villains”. Crowds truly began building around the main stage for Giggs and Blossoms but it wasn’t until Liam Gallagher that the stages capacity began to come close to realisation with fans packing in to hear the former Oasis singer.
They were united by Oasis classics such as “Slide Away” before mass euphoria was unleashed as Liam announced he was “gonna play that Wonderwall tune”. Finally Muse closed the evening with a stunning set, songs such as “Psycho” and “Plug in Baby” managed with impeccable speed to rupture the sense of unity Liam had solidified with “Wonderwall” and instead leave the crowd visibly frothing in a high octane mosh.
Fireworks, confetti and stage lights galore helped to create the impression that Matt Bellamy and co were indeed intent upon ripping Bramham park to pieces before their night was over and at times during their encore of “Uprising” and “Knights of Cydonia” it seemed as if they might succeed with the crowd skyrocketing to a cloud nine made entirely of sweat and joyful screams.
As the clocks rolled over into Saturday morning campers drooled over the spread of some of the countries finest guitar bands that was provided. Bands like Circa Waves and Two Door Cinema Club drew huge numbers to the main stage to witness indie anthems such as “T-Shirt Weather” and “What You Know” whilst Judas showed once again their enormous potential by holding their own comfortably on the gigantic stage. Kasabian later illustrated that they are able to control any crowd or stage in the world as their close on “Fire” made the main stage feel as if it was not a large enough venue to contain an anthem of this scale. New songs such as “You’re in Love with a Psycho” and “Ill Ray (The King)” also drew huge reactions to show Kasabian’s relevancy is only increasing with age as they avoid the trap of mediocrity so many great bands fall into after their initial creative rush.
Sunday boasted some fantastic acts with a stand out performance from Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes with Frank himself showing signs he might be the countries best frontman as he had a circle pit run outside and around the tent as well as standing upon the hands of his crowd to deliver songs from above.
Sundara Karma on the NME/BBC Radio 1 stage were also fantastic launching anthems intended for arena singalongs onto their crowd and showcasing a very mature sound for such a young band. However Sunday appeared to be all about the festival’s poster boy: Eminem.
He walked onstage alongside hype man Mr Porter to the incredulous screams of 90,000 voices and proceeded to rip through his discography at lightening speed, sometimes only playing the first verse and chorus of songs before flying into another. This fast pace meant his audience were left breathless by his sheer quantity of hits with the early part of the set being defined by classics such as “White America”, “Business” and “Square Dance”.
Later in the set he went into worldwide pop anthems such as “Love the way you lie” and “Rap God” which electrified the crowd but it was the huge run of genre defining hip hop towards the end of the set such as “Stan”, “Like Toy Soldiers” and “Sing for the Moment” that really left watchers feeling as though they were witnessing one of history’s biggest musicians at his best.
The four song run of “My Name Is”, “The Real Slim Shady”, “Without Me” and “Not Afraid” allowed him to explode off stage in a hail of seminal and timeless songs which left Leeds breathless. However he was not done and returned to an encore of “Lose Yourself” which set the festival alight and may have been the weekends defining moment.
Overall Leeds was an incredible experience and one that all music fans should hope to one day attend, the camping was spacious and well organised into colour co-ordinated campsites allowing people to camp with those of a similar mindset, the food stalls were varied and of a very high quality and an army of stewards manned the arena and patrolled the campsite to ensure everybody had a safe and enjoyable festival. The acts were all stunning and the atmosphere and attitude of the campers was that light hearted defiance that defines the north of England.
Images: © Billy Seagrave for Flick of the Finger