LIVE REVIEW: Leeds Festival 2015 – Sunday @ Bramham Park, Leeds – 30th August 2015


As the final day of the festival draws in, it’s often the point where the effect of whatever punters have consumed (legal or otherwise) begins to really take its toll. Still, there’s no point in slowing down now – there’s some of the best bands of the weekend taking to the stage today, ready to make a claim to take the festival as their own.

 Opening the Main Stage may just be the most unconventional band of the weekend, and as the backing band arrive on the stage and their Star Wars-esque intro video begins to play, excitement for Babymetal [8] reaches fever pitch. For the very few who are still unaware of the concept of Babymetal, it’s like Chthonic goes Comic-Con – a white face-painted four-piece backing band forms the bulk of the sound with zipping thrash riffs while the three-headed lead section of Su-metal, Yuimetal and Moametal, three young Japanese girls, perform synchronised dance routines and poppy natterings in their native tongue. It’s just as gimmicky as it sounds, but it’s not half fun. The individual dances are on point throughout, and even serious metalheads can be seen headbanging and throwing up fox signs to Megitsune and Gimme Chocolate!!. The unintentionally hilarious anti-bullying video that introduces Ijime, Dame, Zettai is a bit of a mood killer, but otherwise, their thirty-odd minutes onstage is an absolute joy to behold, and with them announced to be headlining Wembley Arena in April, there looks to be no sign of the Babymetal phenomenon slowing down. • LN

 Away from the pandemonium at the Main Stage, Nothing But Thieves [8] are tearing up the Radio 1 / NME Stage. The quintet have attracted a rather sizeable crowd despite clashing with Babymetal and not even having a full-length album out yet, but they still treat the set like they’re playing for tens of thousands of people (which to be fair, they’ve already done). And the likes of Trip Switch and Itch have clearly been written with stadiums in mind, with vocal powerhouse Conor Mason effortlessly hitting notes out of the stratosphere. Each of the songs that make up the set sounds subtly different while still keeping the common denominator of Nothing But Thieves’ sound, making it hard to put a finger on what the lads will come out with next. This is why it is one of the most exciting sets of the weekend so far. By the time the unmistakable riff of closer Ban All The Music kicks in, it’s clear this is just the beginning for the best new band in Britain. • GJ

 It’s pretty easy to have FIDLAR [5] pegged – short, snappy indie-punk songs about beer, weed and surfing. That is, until about ten minutes into their set, when it becomes a bit too easy, seeing as that’s what more or less all of their songs are about. In small doses, the Californians are pretty entertaining – Stoked And Broke is like a scagged-up Beach Boys, while 40 Oz On Repeat adds a bit of melancholy flavour to the overall one paced-ness. Other than than though it all seems a bit one note, with even new material from their upcoming album Too refusing to budge from their set template. Their name may be an acronym for Fuck It Dog Life’s A Risk, but it feels all too often like FIDLAR are playing it safe. • LN

 There’s a mixed opinion prior to Marmozets [8]‘ Main Stage debut. While some of the crowd can barely contain their excitement, it’s clear others dismissed the Yorkshire quintet after their debut heavier EPs. But as the band launch into opener Move, Shake, Hide, opinions are visibly altered as the majority headbang accordingly. After their young ages quickly becoming a USP in their early days, Marmozets have definitely matured with songs like Hit The Wave and Captivate You more than filling the huge space entrusted to them. And with a snippet of Black Sabbath’s Iron Man thrown in, it’s safe to say they know how to warm a crowd up. Sam McIntyre’s technical guitar abilities are astounding (and conversation with a mate in the crowd from onstage is hilarious), while sister Becca has to be one of the best vocalists this country has produced in years. With sets this strong, there’s no telling what new heights Marmozets can hit in a year or two’s time. • GJ

 With Royal Blood playing later, you could say the title of ‘widely buzzed-about duo’ has been taken. But you’ll be forced to reconsider when you see Slaves [8]‘ crowd. It’s so dense that a lot of the crowd can’t even fit into the Radio 1 / NME tent. The reaction is deafening when the lads take to the stage, and acoustic opener Are You Satisfied? is really the only time this is subdued slightly. Every single track sounds gigantic, and the duo carry the set off with a loveable cocksure swagger. This is evidenced when guitarist Laurie Vincent announces he is dedicating the set to his recently deceased goldfish, prompting “Gerald” to be chanted on a mass scale. But it’s the big hits that are the highlights. The singalong to Cheer Up London could probably be heard from the Main Stage, while the chugging riff of The Hunter sparks off massive cheers. It’s enough to make the image of Slaves emulating Royal Blood’s success a very feasible one indeed. • GJ

 The odds have been stacked against Modestep [6] ever since they were announced. Not only are they one of only a handful of dance acts to make the dreaded leap up to the Main Stage, but sandwiched in the middle of a day featuring some of the most exciting rock bands in the world today makes them stick out even more. There are some rock credentials in their dubstep / drum ‘n’ bass mashup – there are some nice distorted riffs in Machines, and drummer Pat Lundy did stints in both Funeral For A Friend and Rise To Remain – but straight up dance is the order of the day. It’s pretty good too, with Rainbow and Sunlight sounding surprisingly great, but there are only so many ways the combination and electronic drops and Josh Friend’s soulful vocals can be used, and the well runs dry a bit too early. It’s one Modestep can count as a win, but they’ll need to vary their attack a bit if they want another shot in the open air. • LN

 Despite the dearth of new material (much to the chagrin of their exponentially-growing fanbase), today is a big show for Pierce The Veil [8]. It’s not just because their debut at the festival is halfway up the Main Stage, but because it’s their chance to follow in the footsteps of bands like Sleeping With Sirens and Of Mice & Men who have played in recent years, leaving the restrictions of the Warped Tour scene and become a Properly Massive Rock Band. It’s an opportunity they take with both hands as well. Polished post-hardcore anthems like Caraphernelia and a surging Bulls In The Bronx sound huge, and while some of Vic Fuentes’ vocals lose a bit of their helium edge on the big stage, they still soar. The instrumentation is as tight as ever as well, with guitarist Tony Perry fully reinstated into the band after a bike crash earlier in the summer providing the backbone of the sound extremely well. It’s undoubtedly a high-octane set with the band in great form throughout, and the singalong that greets closer King For A Day suggests this definitely won’t be their last appearance here. • LN

 Circa Waves [8] have definitely made a splash this year, with debut album Young Chasers showcasing their summery, perfect-for-festivals indie-rock. They gain a huge reaction from the Radio 1 / NME tent as their album’s title track’s telling riff rings out, and the whole crowd is dancing for the entirety of the nine-song set. Kieran Shudall’s characteristically indie vocals shine, and it’s not hard to see the quartet following in the footsteps of Catfish And The Bottlemen or even Arctic Monkeys. But Circa Waves’ live vibe is what really confirms this. The staccato opening of Stuck In My Teeth and soaring guitars of summer anthem T-Shirt Weather spark smiles, dancing, people getting on shoulders, the works. And that’s why Circa Waves are a massive band waiting to happen. • GJ

 2015 might as well be dubbed ‘The Year Of Post-Hardcore Returns’. We’ve already had a triumphant set from Refused this weekend, not to mention Thrice headlining Hevy Festival a couple of weeks back and the wheels being set in motion for Underøath’s touring plans. Above all of them though, one of the most highly anticipated has been Alexisonfire [8]‘s return on the Main Stage, and thankfully, the Canadians do anything but disappoint. There’s not a hint of rust whatsoever – the likes of .44 Caliber Love Letter and a huge Young Cardinals are slipped back into so well it’s almost like they never went away, and the three-way vocals of George Pettit, Dallas Green and Wade MacNeil on Boiled Frogs complement each other perfectly. Individually the three shine in their own right as well – Green simply has one of the best voices in alternative music, while MacNeil, often taking up a backing vocal role, still stands out with his more guttural delivery. Pettit is the main vocalist though, and it shows, pacing across the stage before taking to the crowd in a rubber dinghy. One question remains though – why? Why have Alexisonfire chosen to regroup now? Pettit makes reference to this question but never gives a straight answer, but that doesn’t matter. All that does matter is that one of the best bands of recent years is back in fighting form, and everything is so much better for it. • LN

 It’s safe to say PVRIS [7] have had a successful year. Seemingly coming out of nowhere, their dark synth-pop has quickly become a favourite with people all over the world. This is obvious today, with The Pit tent being so packed there are rows and rows of people stood outside hoping to catch a glimpse of the trio. When they open with an at first strangely sung Fire, it’s one of the most adoring reactions all day. While singer Lynn Gunn’s voice isn’t the strongest live, the songs more than make up for it, with almost everyone in the crowd singing along word for word. St Patrick and the beautiful Holy absolutely go off, and less electronic effects due to the live setting make them seem stripped back and even more special. It’s clear that PVRIS have nowhere near hit the heights they’re capable of, and when they finally venture out onto a headline tour of their own, more success as well as higher slots at this festival are sure to come to them. • GJ

 The Rock Band Of 2014 was undoubtedly Royal Blood [8]. Their brilliant self-titled debut earned them a Number One album, attracted such superstar fans as Jimmy Page and saw them touring the world’s biggest venues with the Foo Fighters. But today, making their debut on the Main Stage, this still feels like a step up. If any band were up to the challenge though, it’s Royal Blood, and while lesser bands would crumble under the pressure, the Brighton duo rise to the occasion. Flanked by a series of huge lighting rigs, they may have trouble filling the stage physically, but there’s no danger of that sound-wise. Mike Kerr’s chunky bass riffs collide with Ben Thatcher’s thunderous drumbeats to fantastic effect on the likes of Little Monster and You Can Be So Cruel, while new song Hook, Line & Sinker hints at some experimentation with grungier elements on album number two. It’s closer Out Of The Black that impresses the most though, with its cascading heavy bass and pure full-throttle nature intertwined with snippets of Black Sabbath’s Iron Man. It’s sets like this that show exactly why Royal Blood are one of the most hyped bands in Britain, and why the only direction for them is even further up. • LN

 Everything Everything [8] have the unenviable job of clashing with Royal Blood. Despite this, they play to a packed-out Radio 1 / NME tent. Pretty much unclassifiable genre-wise, the Manchester based quartet set hearts alight during their set, with the likes of Kemosabe and Photoshop Handsome making the 45 minutes or so seem more like a party than a festival set. The setlist sounds slick and polished, and the band themselves can be described in this way too due to their matching red suits. Jonathan Higgs’ falsetto is exceptional, and is a prominent factor in how his songs’ excellence on record is preserved. The closing one-two of Cough Cough and almost club-like Distant Past set off an adoration from the crowd, and it’s all too obvious that Everything Everything have more than done this slot justice. • GJ 

 Ten years ago, if you’d have asked anyone whether Bring Me The Horizon [9] would ever take to the Main Stage of one of the UK’s biggest festivals just below the biggest metal band of all time, you’d have been met with scoffs and most likely a barrage of insults levelled both at you and them. Oh, how times have changed. Today, people have been staying at the Main Stage all day just to get a good spot for Sheffield’s sons, and their patience has paid off. This is the best Bring Me The Horizon have ever sounded by an absolute country mile. Preceded by a Ren & Stimpy-style spoof safety video played across three gigantic screens, it serves to ramp up the anticipation that much more before they take the stage, launching into a colossal Happy Song. Oli Sykes’ vocals just keep getting better and better with every show, now reaching a point where they’re unquestionably Main Stage worthy, with the thousands watching fully agreeing. The screens behind them project menacing images of wolves and burning crosses during the likes of Throne and Go To Hell For Heaven’s Sake, fully pushing the boundaries of what a Main Stage band can achieve, while the songs themselves – drawn entirely from Sempiternal or That’s The Spirit – sound massive, especially closer Drown, which provides the soundtrack to the beautiful Yorkshire sunset. And while the sun may be setting on the day, there’s no chance of that on Bring Me The Horizon’s career – these will be headlining festivals like this before you know it. • LN

 No mainstream indie band have had as much of a breakthrough as Catfish And The Bottlemen [8] have had this year. Playing third from the top of the Radio 1 / NME Stage is a huge contrast to their mid-bill Festival Republic slot last year, and it’s clear that even the largest tent on the festival site isn’t big enough to hold the Llandudno quartet’s crowd. Straight from opener Rango, the bona fide rockstar aura around them is obvious to even those stood outside. Van McCann is clearly the focal point too. His vocals are note-perfect, and arguably better than on record. Homesick is a particular highlight, where he shows off his incredible range as the whole crowd sings the first verse in a beautiful unison. Anyone can see that Catfish And The Bottlemen are itching to get onto the Main Stage, and by the time the outro chords of epic closer Tyrants are ringing out, it becomes a certainty in everyone’s minds that this time next year, they just might be there. • GJ

When it was announced that Twin Atlantic [9] were to play second from the top on the Radio 1 / NME Stage, there were a few people who were dubious. But as the whole of the tent scream the chorus of Hold On at the top of the their collective lungs, you can practically see naysayers be put in their place, with inquisitive expressions promptly replaced by grins. Straight from the get-go, it’s obvious the Glasgow four-piece are on the form of their lives, and as the set progresses and reactions become more fanatic, the band become more determined to make this, the last show of their Great Divide album tour, the best show they have ever played. It truly is a greatest hits set, with What Is Light, Where Is Laughter?, Free and Brothers And Sisters all from different releases, all gaining breathtaking reactions. Confetti cannons are set off at regular intervals and massive balloons released into the crowd during an triumphant version of chart hit Heart And Soul to finish, which could far and away be singalong of the day. This is a turning point in Twin Atlantic’s career, and it will be a huge surprise if arenas aren’t calling their names soon. • GJ

Closing off the Festival Republic Stage this year are The Wombats [8]. With practically everyone who doesn’t like Metallica packed into the tiny tent, it makes any reaction ten times louder than expected. Everyone in the tent knows most of the words to classic indie hits like Moving To New York and Kill The Director, prompting singing to not just the lyrics, but the guitars too, in a somewhat laddish fashion. The Liverpool trio’s tales of awkward youth from their early albums fit in well with their more sophisticated synth dabbles from later albums, and there’s something for every Wombats fan here. The entire set is full of hits, and it shows just how underappreciated they are in the current musical landscape. Matthew Murphy’s vocals are still one of the most unique out there, and his razor-sharp intelligent lyrics still stick in the mind of millions. By the time Let’s Dance To Joy Division kicks in, most people’s love for The Wombats has most definitely been reinforced, and it’s certainly a cheerful end to the Festival Republic Stage for this year. • GJ

 Barely a festival season passes when Metallica [9] don’t come to lay claim to one of the UK’s many fields, and after the unqualified success during their maiden voyage at Glastonbury last year, tonight feels like they’re on home turf once again. Still, apprehension isn’t completely gone – whereas some of their last visits have been real events, such as headlining Glastonbury or playing The Black Album in full at Download 2012, this merely feels like another day at the office, and bands of their vintage do have a tendency of bashing out a perfunctory ‘get in, get out’ set. Fortunately it’s only the former, but even that doesn’t hold them back. Their stage setup – supposedly the most expensive setup the festivals have ever had – consists of three walls of video screens and a throng of fans behind them, while Ennio Morricone’s The Ecstasy Of Gold and a clip of The Good, The Bad And The Ugly heralds their arrival. From then on, their set consists of two hours worth of pure thrash metal gold, tailored directly to fans with plenty of deep cuts running alongside the usual hits. Nearly every chapter of The Metallica Book Of Song Styles is represented in some way – full-throttle thrashers like Fuel, semi-acoustic ballads like The Unforgiven, sprawling, labyrinthine monsters like The Day That Never Comes and hulking riff machines like King Nothing are all present and correct, and performed to a standard that legends like this would be expected to. There’s no sign of ageing slowing these men down – James Hetfield’s vocals have not even hint of ennui to them, while Robert Trujillo proves just how much of an underrated bassist he is with his solo following Sad But True. And while it mightn’t be a special set as such, there are still some definite ‘I was there’ moments, such as The Frayed End Of Sanity‘s UK debut, or a relatively seldom aired cover of Bob Seger’s Turn The Page. It’s in the encore when the real massive hits are given an airing and they don’t disappoint, with a rendition of Whiskey In The Jar dedicated to late bassist Cliff Burton, a truly touching Nothing Else Matters and Enter Sandman, seeing hundreds of Metallica-brand balloons descending onto the crowd. Any worries that Metallica may be losing it with age are dispelled with this set – it’s Metallica proving exactly what makes legends, legends – staying power, a great live presence and killer songs. Fortunately, they’ve got all three in spades. • LN

Words by Luke Nuttall (LN) and Georgia Jackson (GJ)

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