Review: Blowing up a storm at Live at Leeds

Ferocious energy - Zozo who I briefly 'joined' during their set at Belgrave Music Hall at Live at Leeds.
Ferocious energy - Zozo who I briefly 'joined' during their set at Belgrave Music Hall at Live at Leeds.

I spent 13 hours at Live at Leeds 2016 and I didn’t see Blood Red Shoes or Duke Spirit or Rat Boy or Slow Club or Corinne Bailey Rae or Jess Glynne (who didn’t show, anyway, “illness”, typical).

But the great joy of LaL isn’t seeing the stars, though I nearly became one myself when I accidentally became one band’s lead singer for a spell.

I certainly didn’t see that coming!

No, it's coming across the great acts you'd never even heard of.

This festival of all things indie and beyond has grown so much in its opening 10 years.

Live at Leeds now boasts 186 different acts playing 23 separate stages across the city with an outdoor stage for the first time on Briggate in the middle of the Saturday afternoon shoppers.

What I did see were some great guitar bands, some great pop bands and some great hip hop acts.

What I saw was the following:

The primordial, intense psych-rock n roll of incredible five-piece Fighting Caravans at Leeds Beckett University where lead singer Daniel Clark leapt into the crowd like a man possessed from a band possessed.

The amazingly ferocious jazz-funk-alt-rock energy of sax-wielding Zozo at Belgrave Music Hall where the band’s frenzied lead singer leapt into the crowd, then disappeared, leaving the band to play on and the microphone at my feet on the wooden floor - hence my two minutes of would-be Yoko Ono-esque shouting/screaming to applause/pats on my back/amusement/bemusement from the crowd.

The terrifically smooth Franz Fernandian pop of four-piece Australian band Tempesst at the Brudenell Social Club’s Games Room where this stylish band’s 70s-esque polyester slacks were as impressive as their music.

The big-hearted, long-haired soul music meets Arcade Fire meets Krautrock of five-piece Pleasure Beach at Nation of Shopkeepers.

The slick, urban, synth pop of electronic three-piece Rivrs at Belgrave Music Hall who oozed sophistication and potential future chart hits.

The assured and intelligent low-key trip hop/hip hop of rapper Ghostpoet at The Wardrobe backed by a classy five-piece band.

The likably mellow and understated classic hip hop from boyish BBC Sound of 2016 nominee Loyle Carrner on Brudenell Social Club’s main stage who didn’t pretend to be from LA rather than South London.

The impressively tight poppy four-piece Miamigo in Brudenell Social Club’s Games Room who sounded like Inxs with every trace of cheesiness exorcised thankfully.

Still as good as it was when it first grew organically out of Leeds’ long-standing indie music scene, LaL is bigger and better now than ever.

To blow my own mad jazz-funk trumpet, three of the acts listed by its head booking agent Andy Smith in his highlights of the decade have appeared in Harrogate courtesy of my not-for-profit Charm night.

See Fighting Caravans at Major Tom’s Social in Harrogate on Thursday, May 12.