Leeds Festival (Day One), August 25

a day which looked ridiculous on paper but worked incredibly well when it was rolled out on stage.

Article by Dave Kerr | 13 Oct 2006
So you foolishly thought festival season was over? Think again. Leeds boasts a lot of that which was missing from the line up of many of the beer bonanzas this year. Here, the often incongruous worlds of indie, rock, rap, crap, death metal, emo (see crap), disco, breaks and beats unite to bring a satisfying package to the masses.

Featuring early in the mainstage action, somewhere in between the bloke from 'Police Academy 2' who speaks in animal raps and your stereotypical 'd'yer wanna go faster' carnie with American chat show host aspirations, Bullet For My Valentine's (1 Skinny) singer grates within only a few seconds. In theory, you should be able to strip the walls with riffs like this, but not today. They struggle for their own niche and smack of some oddball by-the-numbers nu-metal homage to W.A.S.P as a consequence. W.A.S.P are shite.

GLC (3 Skinnys) may have been booted out of a recording contract with a quickness, but they still ram the Radio One stage and rock a party like none other. Their relentless joking masks the fact that the comedy Wu-Tang from Wales still roll with nothing more than an arsenal of puns and a backing tape but with a set choked full with gems like Half Man / Half Machine and Charm School, the hordes at Leeds couldn't care less. You knows it.

Worlds away from rhymes about Zammo from Grange Hill and bigging up 'Predator 2', the heavens suddenly open up as Slayer (3 Skinnys) take the stage. "Do you want to die?" Tom Araya enquires. Jings Tam, can I finish off my veggie burger first? This is the archetypal metal that your mum used to frown upon before she started tapping her foot to Evanescence. Nobody does intensity better than this seminal quartet of sonic punishment dealers.

Soon the clouds break and the joyous eclecticism imbued within the ranks of outlandish Toronto collective Broken Social Scene (4 Skinnys) shines through like a guiding light. Lifting the mood with ease, this is as idealised a soundtrack as you could ever hope for in a festival. Playing musical chairs throughout their set and threatening to swamp the Radio One stage with more members than GLC (a group whose praises they sing – "yeah man, we get it, you didn't think we would now, did you?") BSS are sharp and provide a show that should be made mandatory for all those already in awe of the likes of Wolf Parade and Arcade Fire. It's a satisfying movement. Rapturous renditions of Superconnected and a cataclysmic (in an avant-garde indie kind of way) It's All Gonna Break puts the money where their collective mouth is. Hail, hail.

Penultimate band of the evening, Placebo (4 Skinnys), finally fulfil the heights they've always threatened as a live proposition. With a fleshed out band and a set devoid of Brian Molko's well renowned hissy-fits, there are no flaws in their competence as they batter out classics and Kate Bush covers alike. At one point Molko even, check this out now, FUCKING SMILES. It's a momentous occasion and a gloom-loving Leeds laps up their quasi-goth aesthetic.

Bursting into Go, then delighting the faithful further by flowing straight into Animal, Pearl Jam (5 Skinnys) make it immediately clear that they'll be taking no prisoners tonight. A revitalised Vedder and co appear to have had enough of something or other as they batter out an invigorated set littered with benchmarks from their career, from State of Love & Trust and Porch to Corduroy and the more recent juggernaut of Life Wasted. Even Stone Gossard's movin' and a groovin'. Something's changed in this lot lately and whatever it is makes for an exciting evolution to witness. A spectacular end to a day which looked ridiculous on paper but worked incredibly well when it was rolled out on stage.