Leeds Festival: A Celebration of Music, Culture, and Community

August Bank Holiday rolls around again and, with it, the return of Reading and Leeds Festival. TotalNtertainment made the short trip to Bramham Park on the outskirts of Leeds joining 90,000 music fans for the annual end of Summer music, comedy and entertainment blowout.


Friday kicked off across both main stages with The Amazons and Hot Milk, the latter having released their debut album just 24 hours earlier. Sticking to the Main Stage, our first new find of the weekend, MUNA, brought some glitz and glamour to the early afternoon making full use of the walkway in place for the night’s headliner Billie Eilish. Away from the big-hitters, the BBC Introducing Stage was the place to be if you wanted new acts with Welsh pop newcomer twst and punk rock trio Grandmas House just some of the Friday names to add to the list of ones to watch.

Fresh from supporting boygenius on their UK shows, Ethel Cain brought plenty of fans to the Festival Republic Stage as did Mae Stephens and Tom Odell. Back to the Main Stages though and there was plenty for music fans to enjoy as Don Broco lit the festival up with some impressive pyro to match their arena status rock anthems while Rina Sawayama wowed the crowd with her mix of pop, opera and rock. While not as loaded with big comedy names as in previous years, there were still plenty of laughs to be had on the Friday as Mock The Week regular and someone who has graced this stage before, Tiff Stevenson, delivered her thought-provoking take on female life. Friday saw a late addition to the Alternative Stage as the brilliant bizarre Dylan Moran arrived in Leeds performing to a packed tent. Back in the main arena and there was no doubt who the big draw for the afternoon was as Becky Hill made her return to Leeds delivering the kind of energetic, glammed-up pop show you come to expect from her these days.

The stage was set then for Main Stage West headliners Imagine Dragons who brought with them a huge rock show. Showering the crowd with blasts of confetti, the band stormed through a hit-laden set include stadium-sized rock anthems like “Believer” as our first day at Leeds Festival 2023 came to an end as tens of thousands of fans raced over to the main stage for the long-awaited return of alt-pop superstar Billie Eilish.

Friday – Photo Copyright © Jo Forrest


Having been a no-show on Friday, rapper Lil Tjay made up for it with an early slot on the Main Stage while local boys and firm favourites with the crowd, Yard Act, played the first of two sets on the Saturday whipping up their local fanbase with a Mannequin-led set of quirky indie anthems. Speaking of whipping up a crowd, Frank Turner’s fanbase need no excuse to party and the punk rock legend did just that bolting out of the wings to blast through a thirty-minute set of full-throttle punk rock bangers. Quite honestly though, playing gig number 2,799 you’d have expected he’d have been afforded a more respectable slot than early on a Saturday afternoon.

Frankie Beetlestone was our first port of call on the BBC Introducing stage and, having come off tour with Tom Grennan, the rising popstar has certainly learnt a lot. Heading over to the Festival Republic stage, the tent was particular busy as highly-rated Londoners The Last Dinner Party took to the stage. Their wonderful Kate Bush meets David Bowie inspired tunes are topped off by an absolutely mesmerising performance from vocalist Abigaille as the band show why their career is only heading in one direction. Back on the Main Stage now, the sun is shining and fans are out in force as British pop princess Mimi Webb brings a smile to the mid-afternoon crowd with her catchy Summery pop while You Me At Six crank up the energy levels on Main Stage West making a welcome return to Bramham Park.

Throughout the weekend the Alternative Stage continued to make up for the lack of big names by serving up real quality for Comedy fans. First up, Lloyd Griffith who made sure to stop his brilliant set midway through to check the football scores while Russell Kane delivered an breath-taking, 150mph forty-minute headline set with literally no subject off limits. Over on the main stage, indie/folk favourites Wet Leg were the perfect soundtrack to the warm Saturday afternoon while one of Britain’s most successful indie acts, Foals, delivered a suitably huge headliner set with frontman Yannis heading into the masses before the band wrapped up with “Two Steps, Twice” from their 2007 debut album.

Saturday wrapped up with a huge moment in the career of Geordie Sam Fender. For a longtime the singer has been labelled as Britain’s Bruce Springsteen and, having worked his way up from the clubs to the Arenas, this was his time to shine. Having already seen him headline his beloved St.James Park, the Toon Army descended on Leeds in numbers and the songwriter didn’t disappoint. A truly huge show matched the importance of the set for Sam with tracks like “Getting Started” and “Mantra” still maintaining working class grit despite the size of the setting. Forced to stop his set multiple times while crowd problems were resolved, “Saturday”, “Seventeen And Under” and “Hypersonic Missiles” made sure the majority of this crowd home left this monumental milestone in Sam’s career with huge smiles plastered across their faces.

Saturday – Photo Copyright © Jo Forrest


As the weekend comes to a close, the rain clouds start to move in but not until Liverpudlian favourite Jamie Webster has proved why early morning slots like this one will soon be a thing of the past. His no-fuss, straight from the heart songs and stories have been hitting home hard with music fans across the UK plenty of whom turned up early for more of the same. A torrential downpour battered the festival as modern-pop agitator Baby Queen took to the stage but that didn’t stop her or her fans singing their hearts out.

Despite rain doing its best to dampen the spirits, the chilled tunes of Arlo Parks and Easy Life sent the rain clouds packing and saw everyone through the afternoon. If you wanted something a bit edgier, the Festival Republic stage saw Graphic Nature, Scowl, High Vis and Zand catering for those who like their music with a bit more grit. Australian R&B group Chase Atlantic did their best to compete with London grime star favourite Central Cee for who was most likely to burn down their stage with their pyro effects.

As for new acts, Lucia & The Best Boys from Scotland sadly had their set cut short but were definitely one of the highlights of the day alongside the quirky pop of Pixey. Rounding out the secret guest slots on the BBC Introducing Stage, Baby Queen made her second appearance of the day in what was going to be her last festival set of the Summer. The final day saw more quality comedy over on the Alternative Stage as Daliso Chaponda delivered a wonderfully close-to-the-bone set while Jordan Gray possible became the first solo transgender act to appear at the festival. Judging by the reaction, comedy fans will be hoping Jordan will be a regular name on the bill. Rounding out the weekend was the irresistable Joel Dommett who provided a quality to end to the comedy element of the weekend.

Sunday – Photo Copyright © Jo Forrest

With the finish line in sight, for us at least, punk rockers Soft Play (formerly Slaves) caused all sorts of mischief on the Festival Republic stage while it was up to Wilmslow indie favourites The 1975 to wrap it all up on the Main Stage West. A late step in to replace Lewis Capaldi, frontman Matty Healy paid tribute to the Scot wishing him well in his return to better health. Drawing a huge crowd, the band treated fans to their debut album in full to celebrate it’s 10th anniversary. Always a popular choice at Reading/Leeds, this year was no different and, given the late addition of the band to the bill, their fanbase lapped up every minute of it.

So, as The Killers took to the stage, we headed for home. Leeds Festival 2023, you may not have had our favourite line-up but, for three days, you provided us with new favourites, familiar names and great headliners. All in all, the perfect way to end a great festival season and we’ll see you in 2024.

Keep your eye on the website for news about Leeds Festival 2024


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