Live At Leeds I The Park review by Rob Johnson

Live at Leeds started life as a sprawling inner-city festival spread across various venues throughout the centre of Leeds. In 2022, the festival expanded to Temple Newsam, the former home of Leeds Festival, whilst moving the inner-city iteration to November. 2024, sees the third edition of Live at Leeds – In the Park.

We arrive just in time to catch the last 30 minutes of Baxter Dury’s set and while it’s difficult to replicate his sprechgesang vocal style on stage the likes of ‘Cocaine Man’ and ‘(Baxter) All My Friends’ are treated with warmth and enthusiasm by the sizable crowd.

Melanie C is up next on the Main Stage and the former Spice Girl is as vivacious as ever with a barnstorming set that mixes covers and solo material to great effect. Her voice still sounds incredible and she shows admirable self-awareness when assuring the crowd she won’t be playing any new songs. Presumably, Mel C is very rich and she doesn’t have to spend her bank holiday in a field in West Yorkshire but she does it because she loves it – and that passion is clear for all to see in set highlight ‘Never Be the Same Again’.

White Lies are a band that has established themselves as elder statesmen in the UK indie rock scene and it’s easy to see why with a scorching start to their set here. ‘Death’ and ‘Farewell to the Fairground’ are both huge, anthemic songs that sound incredible bouncing around the Clash Big Top Stage. Landmark single ‘There Goes Our Love Again’ follows and the crowd are ready for action. Unfortunately, the middle section of the set saga a little before the one-two gut punch of ‘To Lose My Life’ and ‘Bigger Than Us’ sees White Lies end their set as they began it – at the very top of their game.

A quick word for up-and-comer Seb Lowe who delivers an exceptional performance to a packed crowd at the tiny Dork Hype Stage. ‘Terms and Conditions’ and ‘Ode to Brittania’ are already essential tunes and he has the stage persona to back up the swagger that he displays on record.

The Cribs are local lads and proud of their Wakefield heritage and they are greeted like returning heroes by an adoring crowd. Old favourites like ‘Mirror Kisses’ and ‘Another Number’ rub shoulders with new tracks such as ‘Leather Jacket Love Song’ seamlessly. By the time ‘Hey Scenesters’ closes out a breathless and punishing set it is clear that The Cribs have won the day – headliners in spirit if not in practice.

After such an incendiary performance from Wakefield’s finest, parts of The Kooks’ set feel a little like a damp squib – quite literally as the heavens open just before the band takes to the stage. This thins the crowd out a little but songs like ‘Always Where I Need to Be’ and ‘You Don’t Love Me’ were designed to be belted out on festival stages and the sound quality on the Main Stage is impeccable. Lead singer Luke Pritchard is note-perfect throughout and utterly at ease playing the biggest stages. Incredibly, it’s 18 years since The Kooks’ debut album Inside In/Inside Out dropped but the band still look and sounds exactly the same. I don’t know how they do it.

‘Naïve’ closes out the set and the festival and it’s fitting that a festival with such a community spirit should conclude with everyone singing along in the pouring rain. See you next year, Leeds!

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