BBC Manchester - Music - Leeds Festival at Bramham Park
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Leeds Festival at Bramham Park
updated 25/08/03
Metallica pack the Main Arena It's a short hop over the Pennines to Bramham Park, so we went along to this year's Leeds Festival to check it out, taking in both the Mancunians on offer and some of the other acts.
Metallica pack the Main Arena

With the sun beating down and the traffic moving slowly on the edge of the site, many didn't make it into Friday at Leeds until later in the day, resulting in them missing solid performances from The Raveonettes, who sounded like a band determined not to be flushed away as a fad and Biffy Clyro, who may be a little incomprehensible at times, but still managed to get the crushed up mentalists down the front jumping around.

Friday should have belonged to rock. Metallica headlining meant the chances of seeing tattooed men in kilts upped by huge amounts and the number of piercings vastly outnumbered the number of people on site by about twelve to one!

British Sea Power
British Sea Power

It's hats off then to The Music and British Sea Power that both bands out did the overblown and average ageing metalheads for power and energy. While Metallica trudged through a mixture of St Anger and favourites like Master Of Puppets and Nothing Else Matters, The Music pumped up a performance that surged out across the crowd and got the whole of the Radio One Tent grooving, while British Sea Power continued to carve a niche as one of the most original and interesting bands in the UK with a stage set of trees and pot owls, battle helmets and some very very good tunes too.

The festival may still be called Leeds, but at Bramham Park, it's a shorter trip up the road to York, so it was good to see that the only York residents on, the spiky Colour Of Fire, managed to fill the Carling Stage early in the day with their brittle, punky melodies.

Most of those above the age of 16 spent the day away from the angst and idiot music of the Main Stage, where Less Than Jake, Finch, Bowling For Soup and Blink 182 peddled their vastly overrated wares. The one exception came in the band of the festival, The Darkness, who lived up to the hype that surrounds them at present with a scorching set of full on rock, complete with horn hand gestures, white lace-up trousers, tattoos and fantastic rock anthems that just ask to be screamed at the top your falsetto voice. You could only pity Placebo, who performed well enough after them, but seemed to be missing something after the sheer ridiculousness of The Darkness.

The Polyphonic Spree
The Polyphonic Spree

Though many opted for the sturdy performance of Linkin Park to close the day, those in a real festival mood made for the Radio One Tent, where The Polyphonic Spree continued their mission to forge the world into the hippy ideal of frontman Tim Delaughter, and judging by the number of smiles that emptied out after their set, that might not be a bad world to live in.

With wearying legs, Sunday dawned with glorious sunshine and a pair of opening acts in The Futureheads and Stellastarr that reaffirm your belief in new music, such was their energy and aggression.

Energy is something Junior Senior are not short of, and even if they may be lacking in the talent to keep up with their success, they were a weirdly hilarious addition to the bill that broke through any lingering hangovers with their utterly stupid pop.

Back in the Radio One tent for the final time before succumbing to the lure of the Main Stage, The Rapture pressed to become the best unknowns at the festival, mixing a Cure style vocal with a rocked out funk and forcing the assembled to their feet to dance.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club in the evening sun on the main stage
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club in the evening sun on the main stage

From here on in, it was Main Stage all the way (apart from a brief pop over to the Carling Stage a couple of times to see Brendan Benson held aloft by every other band that had graced the stage that day and to salve the collective conscience before Billy Bragg) with Beck's funked up festival show being a grinning goodbye to the afternoon sun, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club more than making up for the absence of the White Stripes with a thrilling set that included a great cover of Jack and Meg's The Hardest Button To Button.

Which left only Blur to close proceedings, which they did in a poignantly strange way. While older tracks like Girls And Boys, Popscene and End Of The Century were impressive enough, the songs taken from Think Tank failed to translate live and an over merry Phil Daniels only served to make things worse with his collaboration on a new tune being possibly the worst moment of the festival. As Damon launched into the closing This Is A Low, there was the horrible feeling that this was a band on the verge of disintegration, and Damon running off at the end seemingly upset didn't help that feeling go away. It was a weird way to finish, but it thankfully failed to spoil what had been great and (pat on the back to everyone) trouble free year.

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