Topping off a very warm and dry summer, this weekend at Bramham Park was as glorious, exciting, eclectic, and bonkers as ever.
Over three days we saw such a broad and varied array of artists, festival goers were literally spoilt for choice. Leeds has, over the years, become a rite of passage for many youngsters having just done exams – and it provides the perfect backdrop to celebrate the end of school. But this year it felt like a slight return back to the days of a mix of ages, with more families in attendance too.
Courting had the Festival Republic Stage bouncing – with their heavy, angst yet joyful tracks such as Loaded and Tennis they are definitely ones to watch.
Crawlers – an alt-rock 4 piece from Liverpool blew up the Festival Republic stage. Vocalist Holly Minto was impressive in her boundless energy and general lust for life. A Uk and European tour is imminent. Be there or be square.
Fontaines DC took their rightful place on the Main Stage, looking and sounding every bit like regulars to it. This band are developing in the most wonderful way. The angst of their first album, Dogrel, is still there but their new, 3rd album, Skinty Fia, is full of more melodic vocals. They feel like a band who are evolving without losing their edge. Full of wonderful influences such as Joy Division, The Fall, and which now seem to include Interpol, The Gun Club and The Cure, they twist all of this loveliness with their own distinct sound and after releasing 3 brilliant albums in 4 years, they’re definitely here to stay, but not to stagnate. They blended new songs Roman Holiday, Jackie Down the Line and I love You into their set as though they’d been playing them forever. A beautiful thing to witness.
Little Simz brought her astonishing skills to us on a glorious Saturday tea time. Just heading into the golden hour, light-wise, she literally glowed upon that main stage. Such beauty, such laid-back confidence and elegance, and when it comes to rapping, skills that leave most others in the dust. With a full band onstage, Little Simz gave us 40 minutes of pure festival magic. Kicking off with the ever so dramatic ‘Introvert’ from her most recent album ‘Sometimes I might be Introvert’ – she owned the stage before she even graced it. Treating us to the ever bouncy, beautiful, retro and nostalgic classic ‘101 FM’ and the deep funk sounds of ‘Boss’ and ‘Offence’ the crowd were mesmerised by her.
For an artist who refuses to do it any way but independently, because, as she says, she knows her worth, it’s no mean feat getting all the way to the main stage. This is a woman with a wealth of musical influences from classic hip hop to 80’s soul to the likes of Funkadelic and the crowd rejoice in her stone cold rhyming skills. Ending with the monumental ‘Venom’ Little Simz blows everyone away with THAT bar. We love you, Simbi.
Now then, if you didn’t know about UK rap royalty Potter Payper before you heard the hauntingly powerful ‘Gangsteritis’ at the end of the last season of Top Boy, you most certainly know him now. And if you didn’t watch Top Boy, you’re probably not into this style of music – but if you’re a young person who knows anything about today’s UK R&B and rap scene, you know Potter Payper. Gracious and humble, he kindly posed for a pic with fellow rapper Knucks, exclusively for RGM, even though the two had never met face to face before. We love bringing people together. Say nuttin.
The Blinders hailing from Doncaster, seem ever more confident in their performances after gigging and releasing music for over 5 years. Having now grown to a 5 piece, their sound is even bigger than before, and as we know, they could drown out most other bands when they were just a 3 piece so wear ear defenders, kids . They took to the Festival Republic stage at Leeds with a confidence that comes with having paid your dues, and The Blinders surely have. From literally non-stop gigging until the pandemic hit, and regularly putting out new music, they have certainly earned their spot on one of the bigger stages. ‘ICB Blues’ was a highlight of their beautifully intense set.
Dave. Santan Dave. David Orobosa Omoregie – is a one man phenomenon who just oozes talent, humility, passion and actual integrity. Authentic as they come, Dave has more than earned his headline spot at Leeds. He made a point of acknowledging his affinity with the festival, having played there 4 times in the past 6 years. Dave is an artist who switches from deep, poetic rhymes delivered at the piano, to bringing a fan onstage to perform up tempo tracks such as Thiago Silver. With his first studio (concept) album Psychodrama landing like a modern-day What’s Going On, any nerves we may have had about his 2nd album ‘We’re all Alone in this Together’ were quelled when we heard such tracks as ‘In the Fire’. On Saturday at Leeds though, it was all about Dave and his fans – always loving to share the limelight and bring joy, whilst lyrically dealing with some very real shit – no topic is off limits. Race, poverty, strong women, politics, football – All hail Santan Dave.
The penultimate band on the main stage was Wolf Alice. They brought some of their young fans to tears, such is the intensity of their music and the love of their fan base.
Ellie Rowsell reminds me of a cross between Karen O and Polly Jean Harvey – so incredibly bold and beautiful – not afraid to contort her exquisite features whilst getting some seriously mind bending sounds from her guitar. Heavy and loud, mixed with moments of sheer beauty and tenderness, they must have won over a fair few fans with their pretty flawless performance.
And that brought us to the final, most anticipated band of the weekend. A Yorkshire band, a band that many of the young festival goers have never had the chance to see before. A band that even though many teens there weren’t even born when the band started out, have somehow managed to work their way into the psyche of tens of thousands of them, and they were all at Leeds.
Yes – Arctic Monkeys. Like the prodigal son of bands, they returned to Yorkshire and caused absolute mayhem. Alex Turner was giving off Scott Walker vibes, helped along by retro-style imaging on the large screens. Kicking off with ‘Do I Wanna Know’ and tearing through a set that included Teddy Picker, Brianstorm, Arrabella, Do me a Favour, The View From the Afternoon, I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor, 505, Crying Lightning, and lastly Are you Mine – it was an absolute treat for everyone who witnessed it. Sadly no photos but hey, if you don’t know what AM look like by now you probably don’t ‘Wanna Know’.
So that was that, as quickly as it started, it was all over and we are already nostalgic about it. Instead of Arctic Monkeys, here is a photo of the young man Dave got up on stage to perform Thiago Silva, about 30 minutes before hand. A true star of Leeds 2022