Revealed: The top ten musical highlights in Leeds’s history

As the Yorkshire Evening Post prepares to mark its 125th birthday next month, Paul Robinson looks at some of the musical highlights of the paper’s lifetime.

Wednesday, 19th August 2015, 8:45 am
The Rolling Stones Leeds University 1971 Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

Rock and pop music is an important part of the rhythm of life in Leeds and that’s something which has always been reflected in the pages of the Yorkshire Evening Post.

The paper has been a watchful presence in the crowd at a string of legendary concerts that helped establish the city as one of the cultural capitals of the UK.

Here we look at 10 of the most famous – and occasionally infamous – gigs covered by the YEP:

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

l The Rolling Stones were gearing up for the release of their classic Sticky Fingers album when they played the University of Leeds’s Refectory in March 1971.

They went down a storm with YEP reviewer Pat Dean, who wrote: “[Mick] Jagger, resplendent in satin trousers and sequinned waistcoat, strutted and danced, howling and jeering into the microphone – a parody of a rock singer. The rest of the Stones, suitably morose and sullen, laid down a driving sound as a background to his earthy vocals.”

l The Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie put on two shows in the unlikely surroundings of Kirkstall Rolarena in the summer of 1973.

Reviewer Derek Ogden came away suitably impressed, writing: “He ended the first half with Space Oddity, during which the whole place was bathed in specks of light reflected from one of those mirror-covered balls that used to be standard accompaniment to the last waltz at the local palais.”

24th May 2008 Kaiser Chiefs Play Elland Road. Pictured: The Kaiser Chiefs Perform onstage, with Lead singer Ricky Wilson upfront.

l The Sex Pistols headed to Leeds Polytechnic in December 1976 on a punk-packed bill that also included The Clash and The Damned.

The YEP decided Johnny Rotten and co failed to live up to the hype, telling readers: “The great Sex Pistols myth exploded in Leeds last night when a vile, disgusting show was met with derision, scorn and hoots of laughter from scores of fans.”

l Madonna strutted her stuff to hits including Material Girl, True Blue and Into The Groove at a mammoth gig in Roundhay Park in August 1987 that was shot right through with the sex factor.

YEP man Howard Corry wrote: “The pouting, the teasing, the costumes and the suggestive poses that bordered on the indecent weren’t for the faint-hearted.”

YEP Tuesday 7th December 1976 Sex Pistols

l June 1991 saw Elland Road hosting a celebration of the Madchester scene that featured the likes of Northside, The La’s, The Farm and, of course, Happy Mondays.

Our reviewer Lorraine Edwards raved about the Mondays, writing: “All the favourites were there – Kinky Afro, Loose Fit, Step On, Hallelujah – and many more as the band’s power and exuberance matched the crashing light show as the sun finally went down.”

l Chumbawamba were the last group to take to the stage at Leeds’s famed Duchess of York venue before it closed in March 2000.

Fans seized the chance to write goodbye messages on the pub’s toilet walls, noted the YEP’s Andrew Hutchinson, with the scrawled farewells including: “Seen it done it and the Duchess always rocked.”

l Eminem arrived at 2001’s Leeds Festival in Temple Newsam Park with a reputation as one of the world’s most controversial acts.

In the event, however, the show passed off relatively calmly, with the YEP reporting: “Eminem delivered most of his hits, interjected with tales of pistol-whipping, and his own cartoon on the big screen, featuring the characters from TV’s South Park.”

l Millennium and Kids were among the tracks rolled out by Robbie Williams for the 90,000 fans who flocked to Roundhay Park in September 2006 for the first of two gigs by the former Take That star.

Reviewer Suzanne McTaggart told how Robbie, having heard that 11 schools in Leeds had been closed because of the concert, informed the crowd: “How great am I? That never happened when I was at school. Michael Jackson never came to Stoke-on-Trent.”

l Kaiser Chiefs lived the hometown dream in May 2008 when they played the Elland Road ground of their beloved Leeds United.

The YEP’s Debbie Leigh lavished praise on Kaisers singer Ricky Wilson’s showmanship and wrote: “It was a performance neither the band nor the enormous crowd will ever forget.”

l Bruce Springsteen had the honour of performing on the opening night of Leeds’s First Direct Arena in July 2013.

Handing the gig a five-star review, the YEP said: “After 29 songs and a set which stretched for three hours and four minutes, Springsteen left the stage and paid tribute to the newest venue in Yorkshire, saying ‘This is a great building, and a great place to play’.”