Leeds Festival off to a thrilling start

Fans enjoying the first day of the Leeds Festival. Picture: Sinead Harber
Fans enjoying the first day of the Leeds Festival. Picture: Sinead Harber

Party spirit was in full flow at Bramham Park as the 2014 Leeds Festival got off to a strong start on the first full day.

Blink-182 with their usual stage banter and pop punk ended a day of top entertainment with plenty of highlights across all the eight stages.

There was the usual mud about after rain in the lead up to the event, but nothing like the quagmire of last year as the weather held up better than expected to help the three-day spectacular make a bright start.

Fans that flocked to the 16th Leeds Festival were straight into the action with some cracking acts getting the event away to a thrilling start.

Early highlights included bright female pop/rock band Tonight Alive and big, bold-sounding Young Guns on the main stage. Both went down well and were more entertaining than some of the bigger (for now) names to come later on.

Sleeping With Sirens and A Day To Remember pulled healthy crowds and attracted the first crushes in front of the main stage while You Me At Six tried hard to get the crowd going with their “Yorkshire” chants and stories of their time in Leeds.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis were an odd choice, however, and did not quite seem to fit in with the rest of the day’s man stage line-up.

Over on the NME/ Radio 1 Stage there was a strong line-up throughout the day with the tent packed for the appearance of charts stars Clean Bandit mid-afternoon. The first real mass sing-along was sparked when they performed their biggest hit, Rather Be.

The 1975 and the Kooks also went down a storm on this stage while headlining here were Disclosure for the music fans who wanted beats with their tunes.

The latter clashed with main stage headliners Blink-182, who were maybe a bit less manic than usual, but treated to the crowd to just about their big songs plus a few new ones.

Around the park real highlights were provided by some terrific rising talents on the Lock Up Stage with Neck Deep drawing a big crowd and Masked Intruder, with all members of the band sporting different coloured balaclavas with cut outs for their eyes and mouth, proving to be a great warm-up for the Blink-182 fans.

Frank Turner’s shouty side project Mongol Horde were another attraction and he gave everything as ever, finishing by crowd surfing in a violent looking moshpit. The Lock Up finished with a rousing set from Gogol Bordello.

It was not all about the bigger names as the Festival Republic Stage featured some decent up and comers, particularly Mayday Parade and Drowners. On this stage also Leeds-based band The Sunshine Underground reminded everyone how good a band they still are.

The BBC Introducing Stage gave newcomers their first taste of festival action and was kicked off in great style by Leeds mod band Vendettas followed by Castleford’s Allusondrugs.

There were sparse crowds at times in the BBC Radio 1 Dance and 1Extra tents, but Klaxons packed them in for their set surprisingly chosen to be delivered on the dance stage.

The Alternative Stage provided its usual welcome alternative with a top line-up of comedians that included Simon Amstell, Daniel Sloss and Mark Watson, brilliantly riffing with the crowd and attempting a mass selfie at the end. Matt Helm and the Helmettes were brilliant too with a highly original mix of banter, jokes and songs.

The festival continues today with dual headliners on the main stage in Paramore and Queens Of The Stone Age. Courteeners top the bill on the NME/ Radio 1 Stage where My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way is set to play only his second official gig. With Bill Bailey likely to be a rare treat over on the Alternative Stage it promises to be a great day.