With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

Leeds Festival 2019 – Day 1 – Friday 23rd August August 30, 2019


I am really not sure how many times I have been to the Reading/ Leeds Festival over the years, but I know that I haven’t missed many since my first Reading Festival back in 1975. The last year that I missed completely was 2007. Even after all this time, it remains a festival that excites me. So on to day 1 of the 2019 Leeds Festival. It took me so long to actually get on site that I only caught the final song from Milk Teeth on the Main Stage. This band is without a doubt one of the best punk outfits in the UK right now. They currently have the mightily talented Em Foster from Nervus in their ranks. Having spoken to a number of punters in the crowd around me as Milk Teeth left the stage it appears that I missed an awesome set from a great band.

Talkboy

To console myself I wandered across to the BBC Introducing Stage for an excellent set from Leeds band Talkboy. I sensed a bit of Heart, Arcade Fire and alt.country and simply fabulous pop-rock tunes. It was clear to me that Talkboy were really enjoying themselves and that joy easily infected the early afternoon audience, all of whom were smiling at the end. I made a run back to the Main Stage for SWMRS and like with Milk Teeth earlier I only caught their final song, which I believe was “Lose Lose Lose”. It certainly left me wanting to hear more, oh well maybe next year! AE Mak was haunting on the Festival Republic Stage with a set and a show that was refreshingly different to almost anything that I have seen recently (Later in the weekend Poppy made me rethink that!). AE Mak is like a friendly android formed from parts of Bjork and Héloïse Adelaïde Letissier a.k.a. Christine, of Christine and the Queens fame. Mak’s often robotic style of dancing was unmissable in a truly expressive dance like nobody is watching moment. AE Mak is one hell of a pop-dance act.

The Faim

Aussie band the Faim drew me to the BBC Radio 1 Stage next. I had seen the Faim once before when they supported Lower Than Atlantis at Fibbers, York in May 2018. They were very good then, but in the 15 months since they have improved in the kind of leaps and bounds that only the Hulk would find easy. They are becoming a really tight and highly polished unit. There is DNA from the likes of INXS and U2 in their performance, attitude and stage presence. This band has the potential to become a great stadium band. I managed to lose more than an hour next after I noticed that I had been given a Friday wrist band rather than one for the weekend. This meant that I had to trek all the way back to the wristband exchange tent. While it took a bit of time to sort it out the team resolved it perfectly. I want to use this moment to give a big shout out to all the folks who work at the festival. Ticket staff, wristband issuers, Security, stage crew, litter pickers, medics, food and drink vendors, the Samaritans and anyone else I have missed. Without all of you, events like this could not happen. You might not consider yourself headliners but you are all bloody superstars. Thank you.

Enter Shikari

When I got back to the arena I headed straight for the Main Stage for the never anything but awesome Enter Shikari, a band that I have seen at Reading/ Leeds many times and even one small gig in Brooklyn recently too. They never disappoint and as usual, my favourite tune “Juggernaut” was immense. The crowd formed a couple of huge circle pits, although I didn’t spot many crowd surfers. Enter Shikari remains one of my favourite bands and I was excited to learn that this would not be the only time that I encountered them today. I returned to the Festival Republic Stage to catch the Himalayas, who despite what their exotic name suggests, actually come from Cardiff. They offer punky melodic rock that at times is cinematic in its scope. The dual vocal approach takes their sound to another level entirely. Great stage presence too and I must mention the guitarist who looks like he could be the ghost of Joey Ramone. The Main Stage hosted the long-awaited return of the Distillers who reformed last year after a 12-year hiatus. Leader and all-round Distillers head honcho Brody Dalle still has the edgy punk style and it was a stunning set from a much loved and much-missed band, I am so glad that they are back together. Their explosive 11 song set never let up for a moment. Particular highlights for me were “Die On A Rope” and “Coral Fang”. The Distillers had the crowd eating out of their sweaty punk hands.

The Distillers

Remaining at the Main Stage I witnessed girls-only crowd surfing and a girls-only mosh circle. What could this mean? Well, obviously that festival favourites and all-round great band the magnificent Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes were performing. Frank and his erstwhile musical partner Deano both ventured into the crowd for some surfing. Frank, as usual, gave a big shout out to all the support staff and rightly so. The band opened with an extended and stunning romp through “Tyrant Lizard King”. Every song was a highlight, particularly “Devil Inside Me” and a fiery take on “I Hate You” which Frank dedicated to Boris Johnson. That dedication received a massive cheer from the crowd and rightly so. I was pleased to see so many ‘Fuck Boris’ (and variants with a similar sentiment) T-Shirts and badges on display throughout the weekend too. Back to the BBC Radio 1 Stage next for Georgia-based rapper Gunna. I am a fan of quality rap music like Jay Z and Eminem, but Gunna? Seriously? When did rap become so bland, predictable, derivative and frankly, shite? Tupac and Biggie will be crying in their graves at this travesty. Gunna, better than Vanilla Ice, but only just! Next, I needed something to pick me up and make me feel positive again, so it was off to the Festival Republic Stage for Bakar. He draws on a huge range of British influences; the Specials (and maybe Two Tone in general), Mike Skinner of the Streets, Grime and classic R & B. This dude is a bloody good performer, so good that he has even walked the catwalk at a Louis Vuitton show. He is picking up lots of airplay right now and on this performance that is well deserved.

Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes

My first visit to the Pit/ Lock Up Stage this weekend was for another set from St Albans finest, Enter Shikari. Rou and the boys delivered an even more blistering set than the earlier one on the Main Stage. The flame throwers and confetti cannons were spectacular as was Rou’s climbing the rigging antics. This ten-song set was full of bangers and highlights. “Live Outside” which also featured in their earlier appearance on the Main Stage was special. They performed “Tribalism” live for possibly the first time ever. But for me “Take My Country Back” blew the roof off. I believe I would miss anyone at a Festival if Enter Shikari were playing. I understand that they played three sets at Reading so the southern crowd were even luckier than us in the north. Finally, it was time for the Foo Fighters as Main Stage headliners. I have always felt that this festival was built around Reading which means that in Leeds we get the Reading final day on Friday. But I will go and experience the Foo Fighters on any day. The big rumour of the day was that we would be ‘Rick Rolled’ and Dave would bring out Rick Astley to do “Never Gonna Give You Up” with the band. However, that didn’t materialise, although Reading got that on Sunday. we were treated to Dave Grohl duetting with his daughter Violet Grohl on “My Hero”, now these things can often be a little crass, but in my opinion, Violet has a great voice. Foo Fighters opened the show with a soaring stomp through “The Pretender” and most of the bands biggest songs were given a great airing; “Times Like These”, “Monkey Wrench”, “Best Of You”, “This Is A Call” and a mountainous “Everlong” to close the show accompanied by some amazing fireworks. In between all that we had a rather impressive drum solo from Taylor Hawkins. While Taylor was doing a bit of a Freddie Mercury vocal work out, Dave spotted someone, who we later learned was called Ryan, in the crowd dressed as Freddie Mercury. So obviously they had the crowd pass him over their heads to the stage. Now Ryan couldn’t sing but his performance miming to Taylor Hawkins vocals on a great version of the Queen and David Bowie hit “Under Pressure” was great fun. The band also played a storming cover of AC/DC’s “Let There Be Rock”. In my opinion, if you end a festival day with the Foo Fighters you will always go home or back to your tent a happy bunny and I was certainly that! It set me up feeling great for Day 2, more of that to follow!

Mr Grohl and the band get buzzed by a real Foo Fighter!

 

 

 

All the photos apart from the Festival Line Up poster were taken on my cheap android phone. The videos were all found on YouTube, if one of them is yours and you would like a credit or for me to remove it please let me know.

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Hands Off Gretel – Fulford Arms, York – Wednesday 10th July 2019 July 18, 2019


Until now I had missed every opportunity to catch Hands Off Gretel play live, so I had high expectations of this show. Did the band meet my expectations? You’ll have to read on to find out as there were also three other bands on the bill, starting with Witch Of The East. This is the brainchild and solo project of the mightily talented Aeris Houlihan, her sound is heavier than heavy, as grungey as it can get and definitely turned up to 11. Aeris has a blonde version of Marc Bolan’s iconic early 70s hairstyle which allows me to blatantly paraphrase Mr. Bolan and say of Aeris, “She ain’t no square with her corkscrew hair”. Her guitar playing is exquisite and her vocals are really special. Her singing voice is great on the new album ‘Queen Of Insecurity’ but live it goes beyond great. On stage, Aeris was aided and abetted by a drummer that could fit with Motorhead or the Muppets, he was that good! I am not yet familiar with all of Witch Of The East‘s songs, but Aeris gave me a copy of the album so it won’t be long! (Thank you Aeris!). I believe the opening song was “Silence” and my favourite from the set was “When You Fuck Me” which for me was how I would imagine Peaches sounding if she was more metal than electro. Ms. Houlihan made a really stylish and effective crowd incursion towards the end of her set too. I am now a confirmed fan of Witch Of The East and I can hardly wait to see them live again!

Next up was My Wonderful Daze from York, their sound is deep, dark and almost menacing at times. Imagine what band might arise if Florence and the Machine had been kidnapped by DC’s Suicide Squad and the Joker injected them with a mix of a large dose of heavy metal and Kurt Cobain’s DNA. This was not just a simple rock music set it was also a real performance with the band using stage clothes, eccentric makeup and flowing movement to get their songs across. My Wonderful Daze owned the stage for the whole of their set and they captivated a largely spellbound audience. They also keep the punk ethos going by utilising some great stage names (well I am making an assumption that these aren’t their real names) like; Flowers, Eden, and Mr. Jack Sparkle.

As Sirens Fall were the only band without a female member, but they showed true solidarity with the other bands by wearing dresses, well some of the band at least. Singer Mikey Lord I believe will one day become a really iconic frontman. He is highly skilled at engaging the audience and bringing them into the fast lane currently occupied by As Sirens Fall. Mikey has something of Brian Molko about him with some Bowie thrown in for good measure, particularly his powerful on-stage presence. In their five years together the band have released two EPs, both produced by Romesh Dodangoda. Romesh has previously produced Bring Me The Horizon among many others. As Sirens Fall are heavy as hell served with a dash of goth and a shot of punk. They make My Chemical Romance look and sound like Westlife! I can state categorically that As Sirens Fall, have gone straight into my top five live bands! I came to this gig with my good friend Jari, who was here on a business trip from Finland. As Sirens Fall is his new favourite band!

Many bands reach the cusp of greatness but often never make it beyond that, never usually through things that they are able to control. I believe that Hands Off Gretel are about to take one small step for a band, but one giant leap for women in rock. This band has the passion, the skill, and the attitude to take it so much further. I am glad I got to see them at the Fulford Arms, a wonderfully intimate venue. They are surely destined to fill arenas next and who knows where after that. This show came just a few days after the singer and guitarist Lauren Tate’s open letter to the men who come to the band’s shows. It calls out all the misogynistic creeps who sexualise any female in a band or in the audience. What she says is spot on and finally, many more people are taking notice and are ready to do something about this. Ever since I went to my first gig in 1972 and my first festival in 1975 I have loved the camaraderie and care for others in most gig crowds, but sadly there are always exceptions. Lauren was right to call this out and let’s hope it flushes these arseholes out! If you haven’t read her letter yet, you really need to, click here to see it. The band showed great solidarity for this kind of movement. Lauren and Becky, the bass player sported expertly painted on facial hair. At times Becky’s rock god postures were reminiscent of Lemmy in his full-on Motorhead pomp and the added chest hair added to that picture. Guitarist Sean Bon sported a kind of scary red gimp mask, given the heat that night he must have sweated buckets! The band is currently promoting their sophomore album ‘I Want The World’ and most of that collections tracks got an airing tonight. Particular highlights for me were “S.A.S.S”, “Kiss Me Girl” and “Freaks Like Us”. Hands Off Gretel are like a well-oiled punk machine that hits you with grunge licks, heavy riffs, and classy tunes. Lauren’s vocals have been likened to Gwen Stefani before and I get that comparison, but I believe Lauren’s voice is far more at home on the harder, intense styles than Gwen’s might have been. This was a stunning, powerhouse of a performance, the venue was hotter than I had ever known it but the verve and excitement generated by this band drove the heat and energy to molten lava levels. Hands Off Gretel are a long way from their peak but their trajectory is steep and seems driven by the power of a Saturn V rocket. If you haven’t yet seen them, sort yourself out. You will not be disappointed! I would love to hear your thoughts on any of the bands in this review.

Witch Of The East – Pic was taken on my cheap Android phone

Public Service Announcement: All pictures, apart from the gig poster and the pic of Witch Of The East were taken by John Hayhurst of Snapagig (a.k.a this generations Mick Rock)! All videos were sourced from YouTube. If the video is yours and you would like me to credit you or take it down please let me know.

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Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls – First Direct Arena, Leeds – Sunday 27th January 2019 February 5, 2019


Well it’s official I have now seen Frank Turner more times than I saw David Bowie! How come? Well obviously David Bowie is no longer with us, but also Frank is one hell of a talented performer. Before I tell you about Mr Turner’s performance let me say a little about the excellent support acts. Firstly Grace Petrie, she is a supreme talent; smart, funny, topical, self-deprecating and a great singer songwriter. For just one person with a guitar and a crowd that had come to see Frank Turner she owned the stage. Did anyone who had not heard of Grace Petrie before this night leave having not become a fan? I doubt it. She was fucking awesome. Her treatise on protest singers, or the lack of, “I Wish The Guardian Believed That I Exist” was pertinent, serious, satirical and funny all at the same time. She proved that she can also do happy songs with her ode to her niece, “Ivy” the line about missing Kasabian at Glastonbury rather than Dolly Parton is hilarious and worth the price of admission alone! It was a short set, but every song was a winner and left me wanting to see and hear more from this fabulous woman.

Next up were a band that formed in Arizona back in 1993, Jimmy Eat World. Not so many years ago it is likely that they would have been way above Frank Turner on the bill. Their name comes from a drawing in crayon from guitarist Tom Linton’s younger brother Ed showing another brother Jim, pushing the Earth into his mouth. The band’s pop punk sound has aged well and Jim Adkin’s vocals still hit the spot. There were many highlights in their eleven song set; “Futures” and “Bleed American” but perhaps the best was saved for the last song. A blistering, crowd pleasing romp through stone cold classic “The Middle”, the band’s biggest hit released way back in 2001.

Frank Turner was very much on form, he is great on his own with just a guitar, but when backed by the magnificent Sleeping Souls he reaches stratospheric levels. Ben Lloyd on guitar, harmonica and mandolin, Tarrant Anderson on bass guitar, Matt Nasir on keyboards and Nigel Powell on drums are real heroes that drive this set to enable Frank to pull off yet another amazing show. Some of the newer songs are for me a little soft and I am not sure that I like a loved up and contented Frank as much as an angry Frank. But there is no denying that he has a canon of truly wonderful songs. I could never tire of “Photosynthesis” and I believe that “1933” will be a future classic. The acoustic interlude was wonderful and as always “Long Live The Queen”  brought tears to my eyes as I remembered those people who left us way too soon. “The Ballad Of Me And My Friends” was among the many crowd sing along highlights. After that acoustic sojourn the Sleeping Souls returned with huge bombastic effect with “I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous” and “The Next Storm”. There was hardly a bum left on a seat for those and when the main set ended with a stirring run through “I Still Believe” everyone was jumping and given the sound of the audience singing I suspect that there were many sore throats the next morning! Obviously there was an encore and the best part of that was for me the heartfelt and meaningful plea to “Be More Kind” and the full on rock stomp of “Get Better”. Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls get better every time I see them and I can hardly wait for the next time!

All photos, apart from the gig poster, were provided by rock photographer extraordinaire John Hayhurst at snapagig.com

 

 

Leeds Festival Day 3 Sunday 27th August 2017 August 30, 2017


Click here to read my review of day 3 of the 2017 Leeds Festival on the Hype Media site. I would like to thank the lovely gang at the Hype Media for giving me the opportunity to be there! Words by me and pictures by rock photographer extraordinaire John Hayhurst of snapagig. Except for the Marshall Mathers picture, that one was a lucky find.

 

Leeds Festival Day 2 Saturday 26th August 2017 August 29, 2017


Click here to read my review of day 2 of the 2017 Leeds Festival on the Hype Media site. I would like to thank those very nice peeps at the Hype Media for giving me the opportunity to be there! Words by me and pictures by rock photographer extraordinaire John Hayhurst of snapagig. I also couldn’t resist adding a couple of Rubberbandits videos below as well. But if you are easily offended do not watch them, you have been warned!

 

 

 

Leeds Festival Day 1 Friday 25th August 2017 August 28, 2017


Click here to read my review of day 1 of the 2017 Leeds Festival on the Hype Media site. I would like to thank those jolly nice folks at the Hype Media for giving me the opportunity to be there! Words by me and pictures (apart from Queen Vee & the Sasstones, that was by me) by rock photographer extraordinaire John Hayhurst of snapagig.

 

Leeds Festival 2016 Day 2 – Saturday 27th August August 31, 2016


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Waiting for Frank Turner

There was absolutely no way that I was going to miss todays opener, Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls. This will be, I think, the eighth time I have seen Mr Turner and he has always been better than great. So my car share with rock photographer extraordinaire, John Hayhurst got us there in plenty of time. I was lined up near the front of the Main Stage by 11:30 with Frank not due to start until 12:00. Frank and the Sleeping Souls hit the stage running and never stopped for close to an hour. It was yet another truly awesome set from Mr Turner. We were served up loads of hits and a mental, passionate and highly energetic band with a very ‘up for it’ Frank Turner. Myself and the rest of the audience were truly ‘up for it’ as well. Frank got the crowd to separate and form what at a thrash metal gig would be a wall of death. However he set it up as a wall of hugs, that was just one of many great moments along with Frank continuing to sing while crowd surfing. This was an absolute stormer of a start to the day and the smile remained on my face for the rest of the day in spite of the weather. In fact we later learned that Frank was so full on that he had to be taken to hospital with a suspected broken foot!

Next it was the Jack Rocks Stage where I caught Blinders from Doncaster. They play swampy, punky, psyched-out blues rock. What a brilliant noise! After that brief sojourn it was back to the Main Stage for the second Frank of the day; Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes. I have seen Frank Carter a couple of times in the past when he was fronting Gallows, but until today I had never seen the Rattlesnakes. This was an epic punk performance and it was also Frank’s first time on the Main Stage at Leeds/ Reading too. He had the crowd create a huge circle pit and then he proceeded to sing from the centre of it, that takes balls! Mr Carter’s crowd surfing was among the best artist crowd surfing I have ever seen. As for “I Hate You”, well that is just a totally knock-out song.

My first visit of the day to the NME/ Radio 1 tent was for Hinds all the way from Spain. They have some similarities with perhaps, Haim. Their songs are fabulous, bouncy, earworms of pop tunes in a kind of happy, smiley indie style. It is great to see an all girl band performing here though. There is certainly not enough female representation on the stages at this festival. Is that due to the general lack of imagination and forethought in the music industry? I reckon it probably is.

hinds

My first visit to the comedy in the Alternative Stage tent was for the highly intelligent and highly talented Shappi Khorsandi, She was hilarious on topics as diverse and wide-ranging as religion, racism, sexism and porn addiction. She was followed by Sarah Pascoe who was very funny indeed, especially her spiel on pubic hair.

Eat Fast from Newcastle were next on the BBC Introducing Stage. They captivated those of us in the crowd with their Geordie indie pop harmonies. Great songs from a great band. In my quest to get around most stages today I found myself in the Pit next for Citizen. They are an American band that use the quiet- loud style of the Pixies and Nirvana really well with vocals going from a soft croon to a throat shredding scream. The band clearly have a very strong UK fan base given the audience reaction and participation. Many fans proved their love of the band by crowd surfing (I counted maybe ten) into the arms of those unsung heroes of festivals, the security team.

Eat Fast

I stayed in the Pit for the next band, Dinosaur Pile Up. Not only is that a great name, they are an excellent band too. They are a band that has been with us nearly ten years and they will be around for a very long while. I’m not even sure that an extinction level event motherfucker of an asteroid that rear ended our little planet would finish off Dinosaur Pile Up. Next I trudged through the ankle-deep mud to the Festival Republic Stage for Lewis Del Mar (incidentally there is no one called Lewis in this band). But whatever the band members are called they certainly sound good. It is a dubby, trip hop sound with the exuberance and upbeatness of say Vampire Weekend. This is a really tight New York band and at times they made me think of a 21st Century Shuggie Otis.

I was back at the Jack Rocks stage at 6 o’clock for a recommendation from my good friend and top rock photographer John Hayhurst. The band is one that John had seen at the Kendal Calling Festival earlier this year. Their name is Cabbage, they are anarchic, chaotic, funny and very talented. They pretty much defy being put into a genre. However think of the bastard sons of a threesome between the Stooges, Half Man Half Biscuit and Goldie Looking Chain. Cabbage are an exceptional British band that has to be seen to be believed. Their Dinner Lady song is an absolute scream.

cabbage 1cabbage 2

It was at this point that the heavens opened and it rained for a couple of hours on an already muddy field. I put out a call for Ark builders on Facebook, but sadly no one responded. It was at this point while walking from the Jack Rocks stage to the NME/ Radio 1 stage that I decided that I needed an ice cream. so I bought myself a Magnum classic. Nothing particularly interesting about that, until three young lads saw me and claimed that an old bloke eating an ice cream whilst ankle-deep in mud in the pouring rain was the most rock n roll thing that they had ever seen. I can only assume that they were on drugs of some kind 🙂 Anyway I made it to the NME/ Radio 1 stage in time for Crystal Castles. They did not disappoint with a high-powered show featuring bombastic noisy dance sounds done in that very unique Crystal Castles style. It was an incredible show, the lights deserve a mention too, they were stunning

I was not going to miss the next band on the NME/ Radio 1 stage, the magnificent Twenty One Pilots from Ohio. It was a truly splendiferous set from the duo. Brilliant songs and amazing stage presence. How the hell do two people make so much marvellous noise? We were treated to a brief cover of “Jump Around”, acrobatics, drumming while crowd surfing, just crowd surfing and a giant hamster ball.These guys need the Main Stage as a next step for them at Leeds/ Reading. I feel very confident that they will headline this festival one day too.

I was in the Festival Republic tent next for the final song from Pulled Apart By Horses. I have seen them before and they are a band that really know how to flex their well toned rock muscles. Disclosure closed proceedings on the Main Stage. Yes Disclosure, on the Main Stage. Seriously? They’re very good but mot that good. It is not much more than a DJ show after all. I know that they supposed ly co-headlined with Foals. But that co-headlining thing is bollocks, right? In my opinion Foals should have closed the evening. I left Disclosure’s set early because I was a bit bored. But that is my opinion and clearly dance music is becoming more and more popular at this festival.

As my festival car share buddy John Hayhurst was there to take his usual selection of excellent photographs we agreed to meet up at the end of the evening at the BBC Introducing Stage. Incidentally if you do need to meet up with your friends at the end of the day that is the place to be as it is usually empty. Anyway we duly met and as we were waiting for Laura, one of John’s photographer colleagues we were accosted by two blonde 18 year old festival goers, one of them was called Freya and she kept insisting that she had a real thing for older men (John and I are both in our fifties). She kept on insisting that we went back to their tent for some ‘fun’. Personally I reckon she must have been on some pretty strong drugs or that we were being lined up for some kind of sting or robbery. Anyway we eventually persuaded Freya and her friend to head off and enjoy the rest of the night without us. I reckon we dodged a big bullet there!

 

 
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