Festival Review: Live at Leeds 2019

Live At Leeds 2019 - Tom Grennan_-4.jpg

With festival season now in full swing, we headed to Live At Leeds for some bank holiday fun to kick things off.

For those unfamiliar with this Northern gem, Live At Leeds is an inner city music festival, spread right across the centre of Leeds. The one day event, which started in 2007, is jam packed with showcases from the best in new music as well as performances from more established artists too. Spread across 20 different stages, the festival has grown bigger and better with each year.

It’s been a few years since I was last at the festival, but I was glad to see that nothing much had changed, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, as I was just happy to be back on Yorkshire turf for the day. Having such a vast and varied line up, it was inevitable that every band you wanted to see were going to clash, and it takes a while venue hopping, but that’s all part of the fun isn’t it.

We kicked off the day with an early set from CHILDCARE at the Brudenell Social Club, which is one of my favourite venues in the city. The Brudenell is one of the furthest venues to travel to, but that didn’t stop a full room of festival goers getting down early to watch the London based band. Mentioning during their set that they all met whilst studying in Leeds, it was obviously a special and nostalgic set for the band. With their setlist filled with super fun, feel-good tunes, it made a brilliant way to start the festival!

Next up we caught VC Pines at the Hyde Park Book Club, the recent project by The Carnabys singer Jack Mercer. Making a surprising turn in his musical genre, VC Pines swaps his indie routes for soul, now performing as a 7-piece band, brass and all. You really need to have a listen to the strong soul vocals to gain full appreciation!

Merseyside band The Mysterines played a storming set on the Dance To The Radio Stage at the Church venue. The converted Church is now one of the best nightlife spots in Leeds and certainly makes an interesting gig venue. With a huge stain glass window sitting right above the stage, we were never short of something to look at. But the most interesting thing in the venue of course was The Mysterines, with singer and guitarist Lia Metcalfe leading the bands ferocious back to back setlist. It’s not too late to catch the end of their UK tour if you want a piece of the action.

Back at the Hyde Park Book Club it was time for Hotel Lux to grace the stage. Playing to a packed out basement venue, not too dissimilar from the last venue I saw them in (Night People - Manchester), Hotel Lux are doing it their own way with infectious lyrics and poetic tunes. Recent single ‘English Disease’ went down a storm, with fans on the front row singing back the lyrics, which are a nod to the current state of England. It’s nice to see that when you now Google ‘Hotel Lux’, it doesn’t bring up as many rip-off European hotels as it once did. If that’s not progression lads then I don’t know what is?

Black Honey mean business, we couldn’t wait to see them perform again. Their set at Live At Leeds was the best I’ve seen from the Brighton based band, who are growing with each show. Coming out in pyjamas, singer Izzy is one of the best for stage presence, with the whole set being like a performance piece. Think somewhere in between Lady Gaga and Blondie, then you’ve got Izzy from Black Honey, a treasure to contemporary indie.

With a pipe bursting in one of the main venues earlier in the day, there had to be a quick venue change for all of the bands set to perform on the Stylus stage. Unfortunately headliners Metronomy had to cancel their set at the festival, due to production issues. This was a huge shame as I was hugely looking forward to their set, along with many other disappointed fans I’m sure.

Our headliner of choice was Tom Grennan, who played to a packed out Refectory, inside the Leeds University Student Union. This is the first time I’d seen Tom live, other than seeing the end of his set distantly at a festival, I hadn’t had the full Grennan experience yet. I was excited for the set, which saw a promising day of music come to a close.

As expected his set was full of catchy singles and energy, joined by a full band Tom jumped around the stage as fans sang back every word. Over the past year, with the release of his debut album, which reached number five in the UK album charts, Tom Grennan has blown up. His soulful voice, strong vocals and charismatic performance has attracted fans all over the world. Those paying to see him headline Live At Leeds were in for a treat, as his passionate performance proved he is worthy of being a future major festival headliner.

Now festival season is in full swing we can’t wait for the summer of festivals to begin!

Words and Photography by Abbie Jennings