This year was the year that Leeds festival cemented itself as the festival that caters for every taste, as the biggest names from rock, pop, dance and grime all converged on Bramham park for a weekend of dancing, drinking and moshing.
The big surprise on the Friday was Queens of the Stone Age who took to the NME stage early in the afternoon. The desert rockers came fresh from the release of their new album ‘Villains’ and played four new tracks from the album as well as classic hits such as ‘Little Sister’ and ‘No One Knows’.
There was a real eclectic mix of music over on the main stage with Brighton metalcore band architects playing before grime don Giggs who managed to make the Leeds field feel like a club, blasting out ‘Man Don’t Care’ and ‘Lock Doh’.
Liam Gallagher drew one of the biggest crowds of the weekend. He played a selection of songs from his recently announced solo album, ‘As You Were’. But they were really there for the Oasis songs and the ex frontman didn’t disappoint playing ‘Morning Glory’, ‘Rock ’n’ Roll Star’ and closing with an emotional rendition of ‘Wonderwall’ that got everyone singing along.
Muse had the unenviable task of following on from Liam’s set, but the Devon trio are used to the big stage, and their Leeds slot marked the third time they had headlined the festival. They played a set that featured plenty of fireworks, falsetto singing and strutting from Matt Bellamy.
Elsewhere Haim put on a fun show with many members of the crowd trying to imitate Este’s notorious bass face. And over on the Dance Stage Charli xcx got the crowd jumping to her new single ‘Boys’ whilst showering everyone in pink confetti.
Grime has really asserted itself as a festival favourite this year too. Leading the new guard of grime artists is AJ Tracy whose lively set on the BBC 1Xtra stage had people skanking well outside the confines of the tent. The crowd at Fekky also proved that grime isn’t just for the kids as a woman with a 40th birthday balloon launched herself into the mosh-pit. The popularity of the 1Xtra tent across the weekend, that also saw Dave, Bugzy Malone and Vince Staples grace the stage, should perhaps justify it getting an upgrade for next year.
Despite there being as many DJ decks as six string instruments at Leeds, The Amazons proved that the guitar band isn’t dead quite yet. The early afternoon set on Saturday shook everyone out of their hangovers and encouraging the most crowd-surfers of the weekend. The rockers proved they had the presence to pull off a larger stage next year round.
Radio friendly rock acts filled the Saturday main stage billing with Circa Waves, Two Door Cinema Club and Kasabian playing plenty of sing-along hits. Bastille also played a surprisingly politically charged set that featured a video of a drag impersonator of Theresa May.
Fatboy Slim rounded the day off on the Dance Stage with a deejaying masterclass that proved he’s still at the top of his game; even after 20 years in the industry.
There was an odd array of artists on the main stage on the Sunday which meant the crowd was constantly changing after each set. From mumble rap crew Migos to post-hardcore pioneers At the Drive In the line-up seemed to span every genre.
The final day began with another secret set, this time from Wolf Alice who are gearing up for the release of their second album next month. Their raucous set drew out every last ounce of energy from the Leeds audience who’d been partying for three days solid.
Tom Misch was another surprising highlight of the Sunday. His soul inspired beats took on a jazzy feel played live with plenty of guitar improvisation and violin.
Glass Animals had been the centre of controversy after the Reading and Leeds placed a ban on their fans bringing pineapples to the festival (it’s become tradition to bring them out when the lyrics “pineapples are in my head” are sung on ‘Pork Soda’). However this didn’t stop Glass Animals from bringing their own massive light up pineapple to adorn the NME stage which received a huge cheer from the crowd. The Oxfordshire band played tracks from their Mercury Prize nominated album ‘How to be Human’ and lead singerDave Bayley showed off his idiosyncratic dance moves.
Over on the main stage Eminem played a career spanning set including ‘Stan’, ‘Lose Yourself’ and ‘Rap God’ as well as a cover of ‘The Hills’ by The Weeknd. He took the time to call out the state of American politics, getting the 90,000 strong crowd to shout “F*** Trump!”
Australian producer Flume closed things out on the NME stage with a stylish set full of chest rattling bass and twinkling lights. It brought one last boogie out of the bleary-eyed Leeds crowd.
With not one, but two secret sets, some of the biggest names from every genre of music and a giant pineapple it’s hard to deny that this was one of the best Leeds festivals yet.
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