Reading & Leeds 2012: Leeds Day Two Review

After the highs of Friday night Foo Fighters, could Saturday, and the Cure match or even exceed the pure spectacle that was the Foos?

1) Future of the Left

A band I’d never heard of before, and I’m not sure I’ll ever listen to them again, but they were pleasant enough at the time, opening the NME stage on the second day of the festival to a surprisingly big crowd. They seemed to be into it, but it was too similar to Mongol Horde for my liking, except with none of the humour and passion that Frank Turner and his new band carried. A good amount of noise to wake you up, but not a lot musically was going on here.

2) Adam Hills

Not a lot was on at this point, so me and my mates thought we’d have a wander over to the Alternative Stage, where the comedians of the festival were situated. It was there that I saw the strangest moment of the festival, a man and his own prosthetic leg crowd-surfing towards one another, the weirdest crowd participation ever in a gig. Adam Hills was a hilarious Aussie comic, with the ace up his sleeve (material-wise anyway), in that his right leg is false, leading to some great jokes about his past troubles with airport staff of English, Aussie and Chinese origins, and various relevant Paralympic quips, that had half the audience (myself included) laughing their heads off, and the rest unsure of whether such a taboo subject should be at the centre of laughter. It’s a triumph for Hills that he manages to create such humour without the obligatory overuse of swear words, that modern-day comedians seem to rely on, aswell as the obvious disability subject. After arriving to a full tent for Reginald D. Hunter the day before, I thought my comedian experience at Leeds was over before it began, but I’m glad I managed to see this enjoyable set from someone who was completely unknown to me beforehand!

3) The Hives

Incredible. The act of the day for me, the Hives were crazy! Squeezing into the NME tent was no mean feat, and the sense of anticipation was high, for the Swedish stars set, and they delivered. Bounding onto the stage in full suit and top hat attire, the quintet led by the appropriately titled Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist kicked off with ‘Come On!’, the phrase repeated god knows how many times, and instantly had the crowd baying for more. His chatter inbetween songs was often distinguishable, but you just know it was a little bit mental. Hit after hit followed, with ‘Hate to Say I Told You So’, ‘Walk Idiot Walk’ and ‘Main Offender’, just some of the magnificent back catalogue they had to offer. Then, before I knew it, it was the end of the set, and ‘Tick Tick Tick Boom!’, where halfway through Pelle and the gang decided to freeze still in position and perfect unison, then telling us, the crowd, to ‘sit the f**k down’, before building to a crescendo when the crowd were jumping as one. It was a great moment, and left me with the feeling they were out of place at 3.30pm on the NME Stage, a higher slot on the Main Stage was surely deserved based on this performance alone, the Hives were brilliant!

4) Passion Pit

After a bit of a break, following the pure exuberance of The Hives, I returned back to the NME Stage to check out the falsetto styling’s of Passion Pit. Truth be told, I didn’t think they had enough sure-fire hits to keep the festival crowd going. Kicking off with ‘Take a Walk’, was promising, and enjoyable, but the next couple of songs failed to ignite the same interest, so I decided to TAKE A WALK (geddit?!) over to the Main Stage and check out Bombay Bicycle Club instead…

5) Bombay Bicycle Club

…which was another mistake! I liked the latest album of theirs, so much so my Spotify gave up on letting me listen to it anymore, but I just didn’t feel they carried the ‘magic’ over to a live setting. They seemed dull and almost in awe of the occasion, perhaps the jump from a similar billing on the NME stage last year, was too much?! They weren’t so much bad, just average and in comparison to what I’d already seen, that wasn’t enough!

6) Paramore

I didn’t really like Paramore beforehand. They were more of a novelty act for me, their music too bland and ‘samey’ for my liking! However, I was coerced into attending, so thought I’d give it a go. Unexpectedly, it turned out to bearable, they had the crowd on their side, and were full of energy, led by the minuscule lead singer Hayley Williams. They even had a few semi-decent songs that I vaguely recognised, and me and my mates had a laugh with their crowd interaction, pretending to be die-hard Paramore fans. Also, Williams brought on a true die-hard fan for their last song, to sing a duet-hybrid, which was different and showed the band’s ability to share the big stage with their own fans, something I liked. Better than expected, was what Paramore were for me!

7) The Cure

Now, the headliner for the evening, The Cure. I knew they wouldn’t match the Foo Fighters in terms of energy, humour or even songs, but I still wanted them to be good! I was even warned by older, experienced family members that they might not be ‘all that’. And they weren’t, unfortunately. They started with a succession of songs only the die-hards could fathom, and with frontman Robert Smith, not communicating with the crowd, later saying he didn’t want to “break the spell”, the atmosphere was all a bit flat, not truly arriving until the likes of ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ and ‘Just Like Heaven’. Then, the crowd was buzzing and full of chants, clapping and spontaneous dancing, but the follow-up songs would bring us back down into anonymity, and slow, emo-rock. It was a shame I didn’t stay till the end, purely to be able to say I saw the whole of their set, a whopping  33 songs I later found out, but at the time we wanted to be cheering and entertained happily, so left for pastures new at the hour and a half point. The Foos would’ve been a tough follow-up for anyone, and alas, in my opinion, the Cure found it too tough.

8) Sleigh Bells

After leaving the Cure slightly early, it was to the Festival Republic tent to check out Sleigh Bells, a band who’re ‘so-so’ for me. They’re one of the hardest bands to describe such is their sound, and I really wasn’t sure how well they’d fare in a live setting, such was the dramatic failure of Bombay, earlier on. The end result was slightly average again. Their electronic-drums combo sounded a bit off, and was intensely repetitive, so much so that again, I only decided to endure a couple of songs! A slightly disappointing end to the night’s music, but not a bad overall day was had.

The Cure may have not quite have met my sky-high expectations, but the Hives sure did, an unexpectedly ‘okay’ Paramore set completed a solid second Saturday at Leeds 2012.

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