I know that right now there is a lot of negativity towards the 1975 after they became last-minute replacements for Rage Against The Machine who have sadly cancelled all their remaining European date, including the Reading and Leeds Festivals. I am not a huge 1975 fan, but give them a break. If you only bought a day ticket to see Rage Against The Machine, go along anyway and check out some of the other great acts that will be taking to the numerous stages. As usual, there are a number of acts that I don’t want to miss and as per usual I am sure some of them will clash meaning that I will have to take the hard decision as to who to choose.
My must-see acts for Friday at Leeds (Sunday at Reading) are Pale Waves on Main Stage East (I am still not sure about that split main stage idea, it doesn’t work for me). Ashnikko and Dylan look good on the Radio 1 Dance Stage. Dylan was exceptionally good at Latitude a few weeks ago. But my headline choice for Friday is easy, Beabadoobee on the Festival Republic Stage.
On Saturday at Leeds (Friday at Reading), I will definitely not be missing Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes on the Main Stage East, the same place I will probably catch Dave’s headline set. I am still not sure about Megan Thee Stallion, but I might be tempted. Meg Ward will be banging on the Radio 1 Dance Stage and I don’t want to miss Cleopatrick, Kid Kapichi, and Fever 333 on the Festival Republic stage.
The Leeds Festival Sunday (Saturday at Reading) lineup looks fantastic. Arctic Monkeys, Wolf Alice, and Fontaines D.C. on the Main Stage East coupled with Bring Me The Horizon, Enter: Shikari and Poppy on Main Stage West. OK, I confess the twin main stages look like they will work on Sunday! On the Radio 1 Dance Stage, Police Car Collective will be very special. As will the Skinner Brothers on the Festival Republic Stage. Obviously across all three days, I will check out the BBC Introducing Stage regularly. I want to get a huge festival music fix once again. Who are you looking forward to most?
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How do Festival weekends seem to go so quickly? This was by far the hottest of my three days at the 2019 Leeds Festival, well in terms of temperature at least. Were the bands as hot in terms of performance? Well, dear reader, you will need to read on to find out. One of the big rumours of the day was that Frank Turner would be playing a secret set. There was a gap on the Pit/ Lock Up Stage from midday to 1 o’clock, so I came in extra early to be there only to find that it was just a rumour based on the fact that Frank had played a couple of album launch sets at the Brudenell in Leeds the night before. Hopefully, Mr Turner will be playing at the festival next year. My first action of the day was to see Amsterdam’s Pip Blom on the BBC Radio 1 Stage. The band name is taken from the name of the bandleader who writes and produces all of the band’s fabulous indie-pop classics. They are like a reincarnation of the Breeders with a very strong power-pop direction. Check out their album ‘Boat’ on Heavenly Recordings.
Next, it was a quick dash across to the Festival Republic Stage to see Sheffield’s Oddity Road. They hit you with harmonic, melodious rock songs that would grace the canon of many successful bands. The Foo Fighters and the Killers to name just a couple. Oddity Road are purveyors of finely crafted and intelligently performed power-pop classics in waiting. Remarkably they are currently unsigned, but I doubt that will last for too much longer. I made a dash across to the Pit/ Lock Up stage with great excitement and anticipation as it was time for Queen Zee. But our hopes were dashed as the band had to pull out for medical reasons. I hope that there was a speedy recovering and that this amazing band will be back next year.
The Festival Republic Stage next played host to Basque country rock band Belako. This band are incredibly hard-edged with a planet splitting volcanic shriek of a rock vocal and I mean that in a good way. I heard shades of peak-era Siouxse and the Banshees in Belako. Definitely a band to keep an eye out for. I made my first visit to the Main Stage today to catch Against The Current. This charming, talented and well-rehearsed band from Poughkeepsie in the USA smashed it with a great set. This bunch epitomise perfect high powered pop with vocal hooks and riffs aplenty accompanied by some really top tunes. They have more energy than Duracell’s finest products! Back to the Festival Republic for a band that has been highly recommended to me by quite a few people, Sophie and the Giants. The band hail from Sheffield and while I don’t believe that they are real giants they do have some gigantic tunes with huge sweeping choruses that attach to your neural network like a stubborn and persistent beanstalk. Sophie Scott’s voice has an incredible range and volume and a gorgeous tonal quality. She could easily match the vocal talents of Florence Welch.
Sophie and the Giants
I rushed over to the BBC Radio 1 Stage for rising British rapper Slowthai and oh boy was it worth running in that heat. After being so disappointed by Gunna and Juice WRLD over the past couple of days Slowthai. He singlehandedly restored my faith in rap as I thought that he might. He is a great performer and his words and cyphers are intelligent, challenging and at times works of genius. His album ‘Nothing Great About Britain’ is, for me, among the best releases of the year. The Pit/ Lock Up was home to Bad Nerves from Essex next. These boys play it hard and fast with 100 miles per hour riffery and spot on sneery punk vocals. Their tunes are reminiscent and worthy of early Strokes cuts. I sense influences from classic period Buzzcocks and Stiff Little Fingers. I heard them play their single “Radio Punk” here and that has since become one of my favourite songs of the moment.
The BBC Introducing Stage has been supremely good this year on my next visit to that stage I got to experience the delights of Charlotte, a 20-year-old from Hull, who possess one of the most soulful voices I have heard. Her style is at times similar to Adele, but with less of the shoutier elements. Charlotte has a really tight and funky band behind her too. This girl can go all the way and I hope that she does. The Japanese House were next up on the Festival Republic Stage. I am sure that they are not Japanese, nor are they a house, what they are is highly talented singer-songwriter Amber Bain from Buckinghamshire. She has songs with hypnotic harmonies and huge hooks. If you want to chill out on the hottest festival afternoon that I can remember then you need to do it to the Japanese House. The refreshingly beautiful symphonic flow of Bain’s songs is still washing over me.
I did not make too many trips to the Main Stage on Sunday but I wanted to be there to witness the first person born this century to have a US number one album with ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’ I am talking of course about the mercurial talent that is Billie Eilish. She is what a 21st-century superstar should be; an original talent, someone who does things her way and on top of that a truly engaging performer. She has sass, style and superb songs. I reckon she drew the biggest crowd of the weekend, the crowd went absolutely nuts for her. She will undoubtedly be back at this festival before too long. Have I been at the Pit/ Lock Up Stage more times than any other this year? It certainly feels like it, this time I was here for Blood Youth from Yorkshire. This bunch are heavier than Osmium and harder than Nuclear Pasta (a.k.a. the material that makes up a Neutron Star). Blood Youth wield the force to cause an earthquake in Hell by the power of their mountainous riffs alone. This band produced a wave of the heaviest hardcore heavy metal today and rocked the Pit/ Lock Up Tent almost out of its moorings! Take a listen to their current album ‘Starve’ it is something special and you will not be disappointed.
I stayed in the Pit/ Lock Up tent for the next act, an artist I knew next to nothing about, but I was intrigued. Just when I thought I had seen pretty much all there is to see at gigs and festivals during the last forty-seven years up comes Poppy, once known as Moriah Rose Pereira. This completely original LA artist shares a birthday with me, she was born the day that I turned 36. If you thought Lady Gaga was a bit ‘out there’ and strange then you have never come across Poppy. Is she an android? Well, she could be. This was perhaps one of the most spectacular sets that I have ever seen at one of the smaller stages at the Reading/ Leeds Festival! Poppy is like the sproglet of Max Headroom and Gwen Stefani with added alien DNA. Her band look like players in a rock star zombie film. The music is full-on heavy glam rock with a heavy nod to classic 60s girl group choruses in the vocals. Almost certainly my favourite act of the whole weekend. What was yours? I might have left after Poppy as nothing could really follow her, but I felt that I needed to stick around a little longer. Well, long enough to at least catch Twenty One Pilots. The boys opened with “Jumpsuit” which set the bar pretty high for the rest of their set. They managed to include a piece of the White Stripes “Seven Nation Army” within the live rendition of “Morph”, so I guess you could say that “Morph” morphed. It was an electrifying set, highlights for me were “My Blood” and “Cut My Lip”. But the real crowd-pleaser was a cover of the Oasis classic “Don’t Look Back In Anger” for which they were joined on stage by fellow co headliner Post Malone. I was more than satisfied to end my festival with such a great set from Twenty One Pilots. Apologies to Post Malone, the heat pretty much wasted me and I am not a big Post Malone fan! Leeds Festival I will see you again in 2020.
I know that they didn’t actually play the Leeds Festival, but they are a great band, so here is a sneaky Queen Zee video. Get well soon and we’ll see you next time!
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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Much has been said today of the courage and sacrifices of generations of men and women who lost their lives or their way of life by serving their country and rightly so. I, as I hope all of you, could never express enough thanks for what these people have done and continue to do. So I make this post in memory of all those who have been lost or injured in conflicts across the globe.
Apologies up front but this is another rant from me. What is it with FIFA? The latest pathetic activity from them is to ban the England players from having a Poppy on their shirts for the friendly match with Spain on Saturday. Apparently it would be in breach of their rule that players’ equipment (which includes the shirt) should not carry any religious, political, commercial or personal slogans. I’d like to know which one of these the wearing of a Poppy would break. It is a symbol to commemorate and remember those who died not only in the First and Second World wars but all of those who have died in active service in the armed forces.
Not listening, not listening, not listening....
The Poppy is worn in up to 120 countries, although in some of those mostly by expatriates. But other countries have a symbol to commemorate their war dead in a similar way. In France for example it is the Blue Cornflower. England will have Poppies on their training and warm up kit which will then be auctioned for charity, they will also wear black armbands for the match. Additionally FIFA have allowed a minute’s silence before the game. Forgive me but what the fuck has a minute’s silence before a football game got to do with FIFA?
FIFA are in fact a charity. A very rich and most likely (the proof is out there I’m sure!) very corrupt organisation. Sepp Blatter’s promise to make the organisation more transparent after recent scandals seems to have made everything even more opaque. Including awarding business contracts to companies owned or partly owned by his nephew. Personally I think Blatter makes Berlusconi look like an angel. Even forgetting the World Cup hosting bid from England how the hell did they manage to award the 2022 tournament to Qatar? It’s too hot, has an atrocious human rights record and frankly is hardly a hot bed of world football.
Here’s an interesting recent fact about the charity that is FIFA. One of its less well off members, Mauritius, had a cash shortfall of some £42,000 which meant that they were unable to travel to or organise their World Cup qualification games. How did the caring, sharing charity that is FIFA respond to this? They disqualified them from the competition, probably completely within the letter of the regulations. But wouldn’t the charitable thing to do be to bail them out? After all FIFA are sitting on cash assets in the region of £800 million. But I guess they need that for their next all expenses paid junket or their Christmas party. Thinking of Christmas like to recycle my Festive Fir Tree every year and I think next time I’d like to recycle it by shoving it right up Blatters backside!
It's about time he got a red card!
Having just finished writing this post I have now heard that FIFA have offered a compromise solution; England will be allowed to show a Poppy on their black armbands. What’s the difference between a Poppy on the shirt and one on the armband? Not a lot in my opinion and this another example of FIFAs inept style of management. Should you ever have a piss up in a brewery do not let FIFA anywhere near the organising committee!
Anyway let me wind down the rant just a bit and what better way to finish this post than with a song about the famous football match between British and German soldiers one Christmas during the First World War.