Monday, 25 March 2013

Live At Leeds 2013 Preview

I have said it before and as I get older and more senile I will no doubt say it again; Live At Leeds is the beginning of the festival season and (fingers crossed on the weather) the summer, for me. It’s a distinct, seasonal marker on the calendar and I always look forward to it.

Naturally, city based festivals are close to my heart and Live At Leeds is great because Leeds is great. I just like spending time in the city; an afternoon into evening of drinking with friends in its fine bars would be enough, but then all this music too…

So, if I were scoring Live At Leeds out of ten, it’s like it almost starts on a five. For this reason, the actual line-up never bothers me too much. Or, it never worries me if there are no big draws, because the joy of Live At Leeds for me is discovering new sounds, being played to big and excited crowds.

That said, Darwin Deez is a definite attraction, especially as I only saw about five minutes at Long Division in 2011. His new album sounds interesting too; a little harder with the beats, a little darker perhaps. That should be a show to remember.

The other notable band is The Walkmen who are a band I’ve never quite clicked with. Every album I hear amazing reviews. I hear bits and pieces and like it. But I’ve never bought an album, and still think of The Rat when their name is uttered. It is perhaps because I’ve had little chance to see them live. This is their chance to impress and I hope they live up to their reputation. A raiding of Crash & Jumbo Records will surely follow if they do.

The rest of the top end – strong, but not to my taste. My eyes actually want to look at the bottom half of a Live At Leeds poster, to see what my new favourite bands might be called. The known names standing out are Dutch Uncles, Dinosaur Pileup, Sky Larkin, and Splashh but beyond that there is a plethora of unknown pleasures, waiting to be found.

And for those who have not been before, this feeling of discover is mirrored in the venues the festival uses. Spread across Leeds, we have venues ranging from tiny Milo’s to the established likes of The Cockpit and Brudenell Social. This is once more part of the charm. Some venues are a little too spread out but if we get that nice weather it just encourages you to spend time in the city. And although Brudenell is a little separate from the others, they’d be mad to leave out the best music venue in the North of England (I only limit it to that because I’ve not seen that many in the south, ok?).

These days, Live At Leeds makes full use of it’s Bank Holiday weekend, with The Unconference working as a networking / industry type event and their increasingly popular football tournament on the Monday seeing bands and labels square up to one another.

The bottom line is, for £22.50, I can’t see why, if you have even a passing interest in music, you wouldn’t go to live at Leeds. You can pretty much squeeze in 12 hours of music, if you so desire. The types of music, and the venues are pleasingly broad in scope and the atmosphere is always upbeat and optimistic.

On a final, mixed note, Live At Leeds has come second in both of our previous Festival Of The Year awards. Two silver medals is an excellent record. But will this be the year it final steps up and claims gold? I can see no reason not, so if April is going to be as damp and snowfilled as the weatherman is suggesting, get a ticket to Live At Leeds and let it be your lighthouse out of this seemingly never-ending gloom of winter.

Dean Freeman

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