Festival Review: Live at Leeds 2019

This year’s Live at Leeds Festival lineup was without doubt one of the highlights of this year’s day festival circuit. With major artists to appeal to the masses including Tom Grennan, Sundara Karma and Metronomy, the festival shifted a lot of tickets and all of the venues were healthily attended throughout the day. Us being us though didn’t head to these big shows and had an incredible day finding some of the best future talent. Enjoy the read and do check out all of the 10 bands we caught if you can!

H2N Lives: HHHHH Unreal HHHH Excellent HHH Great HH Met Expectations H Poor

One of the toughest lineup choices of the day was actually who would fill the 12pm slot. There was a huge array of talent from In Your Prime, to VANT, but it was Tranqua Lite (HHH), the Leeds-based five piece we chose to watch, and what a decision! A strange mix of artists from Biffy Clyro’s harmonies to Everything Everything’s lyrics, the band were an exceptional blend of genres and styles that clashed and oscillated wonderfully, making for a highly enjoyable and captivating 30 minutes. My only regret is I haven’t seen this band live more frequently as judging them purely on their short LAL set, they are a real force and have a bright future ahead; they really hit their stride when they let themselves go and become a heavier, Foals-esque guitar driven band and it’s really quite awesome. Perfect start to the day.

We took a long walk across the city to one of my favourite venues in Leeds, The Wardrobe, to catch a band I’ve missed several times at festivals and on tours in the last two years, The Hubbards (HHH). I described them on Twitter, directly after the set, as The Hunna crossed with The 1975 with a bit of The Front Bottoms dropped in, and after listening to them on track since, stand fully by my assessment. The East Yorkshire outfit were a great combination of jangly pop, indie lyrics and frequent, catchy guitar riffs, that made for great listening. Highlight of the set was 2017 release Body Confident but every track was well performed and they will have gained several new fans from some of the crowd which were still in the venue from VANT’s set prior.

The next two bands on our agenda were two we haven’t managed to see before ever so we were excited to see what Sophie and the Giants (HH) and Spielbergs (HH) could deliver. All in all I was impressed with both. Sophie and the Giants had pulled a sell out crowd at Oporto Bar and every song was delivered with confidence and executed well – did the set excite me as much as I thought it would? Probably not. Will I go and see them again? Almost definitely. I don’t know if it was a combination of not being able to see and the Oporto sound system not on top form, but I did expect more and am looking forward to seeing these guys in a different venue soon; recent release The Light is a special, special track and music of this quality deserves to be showcased in a venue that can handle it!

The Spielbergs released their debut record this year and has fast become one of my favourite releases of 2019 so far. The 2H review certainly isn’t reflective of them as a band I must add; the crowd was fairly flat for The Key Club but you couldn’t fault the guys for giving everything they had. Their tracks deserve a raucous crowd, high energy and their powerhouse tracks being belted back and it just didn’t feel like I was getting the whole Spielberg’s experience. Much like SATG, I cannot wait to see them again with a more positive and receptive crowd!

I was a bit nervous therefore for one of the bands I’d been looking forward to seeing the most, and the crowd they’d also pull at Key Club. I was quickly assured though that Hot Milk (HHHH) had brought in the fans and despite being largely an indie festival, the LAL pop-punk fans came out in force for the brand new four-piece’s set. Now I am going to be a little biased as I did go to school with frontman James Shaw, but nevertheless, I was ridiculously impressed with how tight their live set was, despite only forming in the last six months. It’s easy to see why the likes of YMA6 and Deaf Havana have already taken them out on tour, and with tracks like Awful Ever After and Are You Feeling Alive? they already have an epic 30 mins of material they need to be touring themselves. They have a packed festival season ahead so if you get the chance, see them now because they won’t be playing venues like this for very long.

It is rare that solo artists do it for me to be honest, but two stood out on this year’s lineup, one of which closed our day Rosborough (HHH) and the other required half an hour’s worth of queues, Brit’s Critic Choice Winner, Sam Fender (HHHH). Rosborough is an artist we caught almost everywhere we went last summer and impressed every time; the lyrics, the vocal ability and the Irish charm all add to the Rosborough show, but this one was a bit different. Normally electric, Rosborough had stripped his set right back and whilst it didn’t have the same impact as usual, allowed you to really focus on the meaning of the words and hone in on the exceptional lyrics in more detail, making for a beautifully intimate set.

The Prince of Newcastle Sam Fender almost stole the entire day with his quite simply, superb, O2 Academy set. Packed to the rafters, I think the entire festival contingent at least tried to cram into the venue to see 2019’s biggest star perform. From epic track Hypersonic Missiles right through to set finale Morning Glory, the geordie star was note perfect and he will without doubt be at the forefront of British music for years to come.

Three Scottish artists followed and whilst we’d regrettably missed Retro Video Club earlier in the day there was still plenty of talent from above the border to catch at LAL. Declan Welsh (HHH) was first up and despite a lengthy soundcheck with issues aplenty, he kicked off the set with passion and fire with the less than aptly titled track Lull. There was a real energy about the performance and Declan’s humour was clear for all to see. The music is unapologetic, straight up poetry and is superb lyricism but the way in which it’s delivered means often the meaning and heart can be missed which is a real shame. I loved every minute of the Declan Welsh and the Decadent West show though and once the sound issues resolved, the crowd got into the set fully and it was a huge success.

It takes something special on days like this for bands to get full 5H treatment, short sets, unpredictable crowds and just a general feeling of “I Want More” normally mean 4H’s is the maximum. Two sets however blew me away this year, two Scottish bands that were miles apart from the rest of the artists on the day, Fatherson (HHHHH) and The Snuts (HHHHH). I always tend to run out of superlatives for Fatherson whenever I see or write about them. Having seen them up of 10 times now though, it does take something special for them to outdo their previous show, but their 2019 LAL set, was by far the most on form I have ever seen the band. Focusing heavily on 2018 record Sum of All Your Parts, Fatherson performed a rowdy, heavier set than normal and it’s safe to say they have truly perfected these newer tracks now. The crowd were singing back, the venue (Church) was stunning (all Fatherson gigs should be in churches) and Ross’ vocals were on point. The set of the day..or so we thought.

I don’t think I’ve ever moved quicker than I did to get from Church to Wardrobe in time to catch the majority of The Snuts’ set. We arrived as the band were in full flow and I genuinely found myself covered in goosebumps the second I heard the voice of Jack Cochrane from the top of the stairs. The West Lothian band are without doubt the most exciting band in the UK right now and the huge, energetic crowd backed that up confidently. Playing the very best of their music, you can tell how driven the band are, but they also have infectious, funny personalities and it was, as always, a genuine delight to be watching them live. The track of the day, the best song of the festival was without any doubt the finale Sing For Your Supper; a stunning rendition coupled with an awesome crowd singalong made for the perfect end to the set. I haven’t seen an energy, a drive, a want for success so much since the first time I saw Van McCann and Catfish and the Bottlemen all those years ago; The Snuts are special, really special and their balance of heavier, indie rock and Jack’s incredible vocal will get them extremely far and we can expect to see them at the top of festival bills very soon.

Thanks to Live at Leeds for curating, once again a stunning festival and we already can’t wait to be back in 2020!!

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