Since 2007, the May Day Bank Holiday weekend has played host to Live at Leeds, a fantastic festival that has hosted the likes of Ed Sheeran, The Maccabees, Marina and the Diamonds, Mumford & Sons and Bombay Bicycle Club – most of them many years before they hit the musical big time.
The great thing about the festival if that you pay your money, pick up a wristband and then walk around the wonderful city, going to an abundance of venues to enjoy some cracking live music from across the spectrum.
Highlights from last year include Sam Smith’s acoustic performance in the Holy Trinity Church, and London Grammar mesmerizing the crowd at Leeds Met University with their obvious talent, 6 months before they released their debut album.
So, what does the line up hold in store for us this year? Well, our Head of Music has spent hours looking at the timetable, across the 24…yes 24 venues and has picked his personal 14 for 2014…
The first bands hit stage at midday, but we start at the Cockpit Bar at 13:30 with the wonderful Jake Isaac. We saw the Londoner support Ella Eyre recently and he is one to keep and eye out for. Mixing soul, folk and a little bit of rock, he has a superb soulful voice.
Throughout there is loads to choose from, from the wonderful female singer/songwriter Lauren Aquilina at the O2 Academy, indie bands Amber Run at the Leeds College of Music, and Young Kato at the Faversham. However our next choice is at 18:00 and it’s decision time. (One of the drawbacks to the festival is that sometimes, there are just too many good acts on at different venues at the same time!)
At 18:00 you have the choice of Woman’s Hours, a Kendal/Manchester foursome with an amazing sound, is it indie, is it pop with an edge? However you want to class them, they are very good. Their superb, stripped back cover of the Leona Lewis hit Bleeding Love has been featured on the reality TV show, Made In Chelsea and they take to the stage at the Brudenell Social Club on the outskirts of the city centre.
Or if that doesn’t take your fancy, how about the soul dance sound of London based, Years and Years, who will be at the Belgrave Music Hall. The video for their song ‘Real’ features Ben Whishaw – a great slice of modern pop.
Finally, our third choice for 18:00 hours is a band that fit nicely between the alternative sound of The XX and the more commercial pop of London Grammar, it’s Arthur Beatrice at the HIFI Club. Their debut album Working Out is full of haunting vocals and songs that build from simple beginnings to a big finish. Really good band.
At 18:30, if you fancy something completely different, then head to Leeds Met for one of the most taked about rock bands of the year, Royal Blood. The band, who only formed last year in Brighton, is made up of drummer Ben Thatcher and Mike Kerr on bass guitar and vocals; almost a cross between Queens of the Stone Age and the early Muse.
If a simpler lighter sound is more for you, check out the wonderful singer/songwriter Josh Record at the Leeds Uni Refectory at 19:30. His fans already include Radio 1’s Zane Lowe and 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq, amongst many others this guy will be a star in the not too distant future – believe me! His voice is amazing, in fact we’ve been playing his track ‘For Your Love’ for over a year.
And, Speaking of amazing voices, head to the Holy Trinity Church at 21:00 to witness one of the best new artists around at the moment, Marika Hackman. This former Burberry model produces a sound that has been described as ‘brooding folk’! Whatever it is, it’s awesome.
At the same time at the Cockpit on the NME stage, it’s the new indie darlings Wolf Alice. They say their sound is ‘rocky pop’, but Clash magazine said they are “the lovechild of folk and grunge”. Both fit, I think.
Elektra and Miranda Kilbey are twin sisters who produced really good electro pop with amazing vocal harmonies under the name Say Lou Lou. They will be bringing their songs to the Belgrave Music Hall at 21:00 as well. Yes – it’s decision time yet again.
The Nation of Shopkeepers is a fantastic music venue; it’s intimate enough that you can see the whites of the artist’s eyes. Playing host to two highlights later int he day. First up at 22:00 it’s the wonderful Laura Walsh. With a sound similar to Jessie Ware, she has just worked with one of the best production units around at the moment, Gorgan City on their new single.
But don’t move on just yet! Because after Laura, there’s another fantastic female singer who has just had a top ten hit which won’t be her last, it’s Indiana. Smooth vocals and electro pop is what you’ll find here.
Or if you can’t be bothered trekking around the city to loads of different venues, then take up residence at the O2 Academy. the much hyped Chlöe Howl takes to the stage at 19:00. She has been on so many lists predicting big things in 2014, including iTunes, the BBC Sound of 2014, and also the shortlist for the Critics’ Choice award at the Brits. Her debut album is out Later this year. Next up is a singer that has so much potential, it’s unbelievable that she has only just turned 20; Ella Eyre has a voice that has so much soul. We recently saw her totally smash the Cockpit, and one thing is for sure, she won’t be playing little venues like that for long. A great voice matched by a fantastic stage presence, Ella is the real deal!
Bringing proceedings to a close is the brilliant Clean Bandit. They have been on our playlists since the beginning of 2013, but it was their superb track ‘Rather Be’ that saw them top the charts earlier this year. Mixing elements of classical music with dance, their sound is amazing.
Whoever and wherever you go and see, we hope you have a great day/night. Leeds has some amazing live venues, and this weekend they welcome some great acts – so enjoy!