Live at Leeds: 12 hours gone in the blink of an eye

Live at Leeds - The Thurston Moore band at Leeds Beckett University led by Thurston Moore himself. (Picture by Giles Smith)
Live at Leeds - The Thurston Moore band at Leeds Beckett University led by Thurston Moore himself. (Picture by Giles Smith)

Review by Gig Scene Graham Chalmers

Live at Leeds 2015, wow, easily the biggest and best of these annual shindigs to date.

Live at Leeds - Clay on stage at Belgrave Music Hall. (Picture by Tom Joy)

Live at Leeds - Clay on stage at Belgrave Music Hall. (Picture by Tom Joy)

A record number of venues - 18 in total spread across the city - and a massive range of acts covering all the musical genres any fan could possibly want.

On the way, you never know exactly what you’re going to discover and experience.

In a packed day I managed to catch 12 acts in 12 venues in 12 hours in the company of friend James Littlewood of Pooka online radio channel.

Most venues I visited were ram-jammed, people of differing dress modes spilling out the door, from indie kids to youngsters dressed as 1960s Mods to the more mature fan, Chris Difford of Squeeze who manages The Strypes to the ubiqitous super fan Simon the rock n roll accountant without whom. . .

Highlights were numerous, particularly the quietly funky youngsters Clay at Belgrave Music Hall, though some bands were more about creating atmosphere than actual real songs.

Most amazing performance of the day was by former Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore at Leeds Beckett University.

Backed by James Sedwards of Nought on guitar, Deb Googe of My Bloody Valentine on bass and Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth drums - what Moore could do with just two chords was a sight to behold.

I didn’t even particularly like the actual ‘songs’ but the whole band had such attitude and technique at one very quiet moment of the gig I heard myself shouting at the top of my voice in a cheesy fashion “we love you Thurston.”

It must have reached the great man because he paused then, perhaps in ironic retaliation, announced to the crowd: “we are a band called Slade and our next song is called Sqweeze Me Pleeze Me”. Then proceeded to play something else. Obviously.

Anyway, enough of that.

To capture the whirlwind spirit of the whole day, what follows is my hourly tweets from noon to midnight on another extraordinary day for Live at Leeds.

Live at Leeds: Twitter Diary

Noon: “Arrived in Leeds for my favourite day of the year - Live at Leeds. A million bands to come...”

1pm: “Interviewed them recently, Clay just played Belgrave Music Hall at Live at Leeds. A band to look out for.”

1.30pm: “Gaz Coombes (Supergrass) on stage at 02 Academy for Live at Leeds. Impressively born again mature. May have to buy his Matador album.”

2.30pm: “Overwrought pretension from young Samuel Ford at Leeds College of Music at Live at Leeds & he spotted me leaving and remarked on it. Oops.”

2.30pm: “Interesting Talk Talk/ Radiohead type band called Fossa on stage in academic setting of Leeds College of Music. It’s good but very, er, nice.”

4pm: “Good grief - The Beach at The Wardrobe at LaL, 1 guy (sub Ed Sheeran) and backing band. It’s okay not to be okay, he sings. No it’s not.”

5pm: “At Black Swan for punk band Kleine Schwine in Farage masks at Live at Leeds. Lead singer Neil turns into something from Taxi Driver live!”

5.30pm: “It’s raining again in Leeds but who cares - it’s Live at Leeds. Dutch Uncles at town hall next.”

6pm: “Best band of the day so far at Live at Leeds? Clay - funky mellow young inheritors of Stone Roses’ crown.”

7pm: “Lights have gone off at Dutch Uncles at Leeds Town Hall. Crowd are holding their phones aloft en masse. Live at Leeds is great.”

8pm: “Hands are raised upwards at the front, beer is flying thru the air. Palma Violets are on stage at Live at Leeds!”

“Sound is dreadful in Leeds Town Hall for Palma Violets. All drums and shrillness. Bad hat, too.”

9pm: “At Nation of Shopkeepers for Jagaar in Live at Leeds. 3 girls, 2 guitars, 1 keyboards. Breathy, feminine, delicate, well done. But.”

10pm: “Audience building for legendary Thurston Moore at Live at Leeds, which is great.”

“Shit. I’m only two rows away from Thurston Moore!”

“Defiant at Leeds. Is that Jim O’Rourke on guitar? Thurston Moore & band have the arrogance of the great. Is that Steve Shelley on drums?”

“Best band of the day at Live at Leeds so far? Thurston Moore for sure.”

10.45pm: “Most romantic impossibly Sigur Ros meets I Like Trains band of the day at Live at Leeds? Cloud Castle Lake at Brudenell Social Club.”

11pm: “Most aggressive crowd-friendly band of the day at Live at Leeds? Slaves at Brudenell Social Club! Amazingly sweaty crowd-surfing.”