Leeds Festival day one review: Music gems shine despite heavy rain

The View on stage. PIC: Mark Bickerdike
The View on stage. PIC: Mark Bickerdike
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A rain-drenched opening day at Leeds Festival climaxed as 75,000 spectators dispersed among the stages.

People’s tents were flooded and paths turned into swamps as ponchos became the order of the day at the annual rock music event, in Bramham Park, Wetherby.

First day highlights weren’t all big stage headliners either despite symphonic indie heavyweights Muse, Friendly Fires and Elbow dominating the bill.

The festival, which ends on Sunday, featured tens of live music acts split across six stages but it was the indoor Festival Republic stage that had a line-up of particular note.

Spread across the day, upcoming acts including Little Comets, Fight Like Apes, Viva Brother, Ed Sheeran and Young Legionnaire packed out the tent.

All this came before indie icon, Pete Doherty, competed with the likes of Muse and 2manydjs, who were playing on other stages, for festival-goer’s attention during the final slot of the night.

The washout weather didn’t put tens of thousands of spectators off pints of Gaymers cider that were on sale however, as they continued their sponsorship of Leeds’ flagship festival event as the music played well into the night.

Particular highlights included Irish indie-pop three-piece, Fight Like Apes, who blasted out original tracks like Hoo Ha Henry and Jenny Kelly, with a synthy undertone led by energetic front-woman Maykay.

Acoustic sensation, Ed Sheeran, also drew spectators into the Festival Republic tent, with some anxious fans even rolling up the sides of the tent to get a glimpse of their hero.

Grit-pop young pretenders, Viva Brother, then got the crowd jumping with sterling performances of Oasis and Kasabian-inspired singles, Darling Buds of May and Still Here.

Meanwhile big-name acts including The Streets and Panic! At the Disco featured on the NME/ BBC Radio 1 Stage as spectators continued to seek a break from the persistent rain.

The Streets’ performance was particularly poignant as it is expected to be one of the band’s final gigs before lead singer, Mike Skinner, closes the door on the band in October.

The event, which runs alongside Reading Festival, relentlessly drenched all comers but spirits remained high during a fittingly raw and testing festival opener.

The day’s big acts met expectations while up and coming festival newbies surpassed them, sending a soaked crowd back to their tents as happy campers.

Contact www.facebook.com/gaymers for photos and information on Leeds Festival as well as a chance to win tickets to this year’s Bestival, on the Isle of Wight.

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