WPGM Reviews: Leeds Festival 2017

Festival flares
The sun and glitter on teenagers’ faces were shining as crowds headed to Bramham Park outside Leeds for the highly-anticipated Leeds Festival. Headliners this year were Muse, Kasabian and Eminem. Except for a handful of rock acts, the line-up this year was predominantly geared for pop, rap and grime’s younger fans.

For those lucky enough to have arrived early on Friday, Queens of the Stone Age performed a surprise act. Word very quickly spread throughout the festival after the band announced their sneaky slot and by midday, the NME/Radio 1 Stage tent was packed out with fans. The band kicked off their set with “Feet Don’t Fail Me” from their newly released album, Villains. “Afternoon Delight” prompted a mass sing-along and their raucous set-list included mostly new tracks and a handful of older tracks like “Little Sister” & “My God is the Sun”.

A definite highlight on Friday was metalcore band, Architects. They blew fans away with a brutal, melody-spiked and breath taking performance. The intensity of their set was complemented by CO2 and flames surrounding the members. Frontman, Sam Carter, involved the audience and delivered an emotional and tight-knit show.

Giggs then commanded the main stage and delivered a stellar grime set to the delight of his screaming fans braving the warm summer sun. He performed tracks “3 Wheel-Ups”, “Man Don’t Care”, “Look What The Cat Dragged In” and a few other fan-favourites.

Excitement was in the air as the crowd was waiting for Blossoms to come on stage. They brought their indie pop sound to Leeds with a memorable set that included hits like “Cut Me and I’ll Bleed” and “My Favourite Room”. They caused fan hysteria by covering John Lennon’s “Imagine” and teasing with the chorus of The Smiths’ “There is A Light that never goes out.”

Later in the evening, larger than life performer, Charli XCX put everyone in a party mode by stomping up and down the dance stage, enthusiastically performing well-known tracks like “Boom Clap” and Icona Pop’s “I Love It”. She delivered a candy-coated fun performance for all the bouncing teens.

Australian band, Tired Lion performed on the Pit Stage and was a refreshing treat with their 90’s grunge sound dominated by loud guitars and aggressive melodic vocals. Raspy voiced, front-lady, Sophie Hopes delivered track-after-track with energy and confidence. It was obvious that the band had fun on stage and it translated into a raw and intense set. This is a band to look out for!

One of the most recognisable figures at the festival (for all ages) was rock icon Liam Gallagher, who performed a triumphant set of Oasis classics and songs from his new solo album. He confidently strutted onto the stage to deafening screams from fans and opened his set rather appropriately with “Rock and Roll Star”. “What’s the Story Morning glory” sparked coloured smoke bombs and flares. He ended his set with as he called it, “…that Wonderwall shit”.

Friday was brought to a supermassive close by rock royalty, Muse. The trio kicked off their performance with an impressive laser display with their latest one-off single, “Dig Down”. The fan anthems, “Supermassive Blackhole”, “Starlight” and “Madness” were received with dancing and sing-alongs. The explosive first part of their set was ended by “Take a Bow”, after-which the band returned for an encore of “Uprising”. Fireworks and “Knights of Cydonia” ended this spectacular performance and showmanship – pure genius.

The first band noteworthy on Saturday was The Amazons, who filled out the Festival Republic Stage tent with fans as young as 5 on their parents’ shoulders. Their popular set consisted of tracks that went from slower sing-along to head banging hard rock tracks. Their set-list included, “Ultraviolet”, “Black Magic” and “Little Something”. Fan-anthem “Junk Food Forever” instigated crowd surfing and finished off their very successful appearance at Leeds.

Mallory Knox and Puppy injected some much-needed rock energy into Saturday afternoon and the NME/Radio 1 Stage was dazzled by pop-sensations, Oh Wonder and Anne-Marie’s laser-infused sets.

You didn’t have to be a fan to have sung along to Bastille’s well-known hits as they warmed up the crowd for headliners, Kasabian on Saturday night. They opened their set with “Send Them Off” and performed “Laura Palmer”, “Bad Blood”, “The Currents” and “Fake It”. They closed their set with crowd-favourites, “Things We Lost In The Fire” and “Pompeii”.

It was Kasabian’s second time headlining the festival and they didn’t disappoint. They came onto the stage to thunderous applause and opened with “Ill Ray (The King)”. They performed hit-after-hit, including, “You’re in Love with a Psycho”, “Treat” to deafening screams and temporarily brought the crowd to silence performing a cover of Nirvana’s “All Apologies”. “Fire” ended their set.

The secret set on Sunday was a scorching one by London four-piece, Wolf Alice, who brought Leeds to their feet and prompted huge mosh-pits that continued throughout. Frontwoman, Ellie Rowsell’s stage presence, and rich vocals captivated the crowd from the get-go. Their bubble-grunge set-list included, “You’re a Germ”, “Yuk Foo”, “Beautifully Unconventional” and ended with “Giant Peach”,

Eminem fans flocked to the main stage very early to find a spot up-close. The Sunday build-up performances to the headliner on the main stage were by PVRIS, The Pretty Reckless, Migos, At the Drive In, Korn and Major Lazer.

PVRIS released their new album, “All We Know of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell” just before the festival weekend and their mainstage performance was a bonus. Fireworks opened the set as the band performed, “You and I”. The band performed a tight, energetic set and was one of the top 5 performances of the weekend.

Korn exploded on stage with one of the most impressive stage light set-ups Leeds festival ever seen. They had a task at hand performing for the commercial, Major Lazer & Eminem crowd, but did a stellar job performing songs like “Here to Stay” and metal anthem, “Freak on a Leash”.

Major Lazer kept the crowd entertained for the last stretch with jumping, dubstep drops, dancing, dancehall tracks, confetti, pyrotechnics and lasers.

To the delight of those that have been waiting in one spot for over 6 hours and thousands of others, the Real Slim Shady finally made his appearance and closed Leeds Festival 2017. Now bearded and sober, rap-icon Eminem, opened with “Square Dance”, and performed a huge set of classics including, “Stan”, “The Way I Am” and “Like Toy Soldiers” before ending the night with “Lose Yourself”.

All and all a great weekend filled with a lot of glitter, street-food, sunshine and a plethora of music acts to choose from.

Words by Marianne Brits-Strodl

Marianne Brits-Strodl

Johannesburg-born, London-based photographer, Marianne Brits-Strodl is inextricably linked with, and have a genuine passion for the live music scene. The key to Marianne’s success in the arena of music photography is the originality of her work. Not necessarily the subject matter, but in the execution thereof. In terms of style, her work possesses all the instinctive immediacy of photojournalism and its frontline documentary approach, yet she somehow always manages to marry this with the considered curation of a high fashion editorial spread.Hers are powerful images – unstaged, unrehearsed, and strikingly candid – capturing the unbridled energy and charisma of the music scene, with glimpses into the quieter, more reflective moments of its artists in between...

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