City Buzz: Live at Leeds more important for city’s music scene than ever before

Ella Eyre at Live at Leeds. Pic: Anthony Longstaff.
Ella Eyre at Live at Leeds. Pic: Anthony Longstaff.
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IT’S been a long wait but the line-up for the Live at Leeds festival has finally been revealed.

With headline acts like Libertines star Carl Barat, former Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes and hometown favourites Eagulls, there’s already a big buzz around the event.

And other, slightly more obscure acts include Dutch Uncles, Emmy The Great, Hookworms and We Were Promised Jetpacks.

If these names don’t float your boat, don’t turn off just yet as it’s often the lesser-known musicians on the bill that go on to big things.

Live at Leeds festivalgoers who took a chance on a relatively unknown singer called Sam Smith a couple of years ago are probably feeling quite smug right now.

The singer was way down in the bottom tier of the LAL list and performed in the modest surroundings of Holy Trinity Chruch on Boar Lane just two years ago.

He then went on to have one of the biggest-selling albums in both the UK and the USA last year.

Not only that but singer-songwriter George Ezra was also part of the same line-up and has gone on to have a platinum-selling single with ‘Budapest’.

A personal festival highlight of mine was seeing soulful pop singer Ella Eyre at the O2 Academy last year as she threw her incredible curly locks around the stage and belted out singles that later became big chart hits.

It’s clear the LAL talent-spotters know exactly what they’re talking about when it comes to booking the best acts out there.

But this year, the event holds more importance than ever before.

Whilst the festival has continued to grow, with more than 200 acts taking part in the four-day event this year, some key music venues have started to struggle.

The real hammer blow, of course, came with the surprise closure of The Cockpit last year after more than 20 years in business.

The loss of the hugely popular venue, which was such an integral launchpad for countless acts, was mourned by many and there were fears that its departure would leave a void behind that just couldn’t be filled.

So far newer venues like Belgrave are doing an admirable job trying to plug the gap.

And other festivals like Slam Dunk, which announced You Me at Six as a headline act this week, mean there are still opportunities out there for alternative music and up-and-coming talent to take centre stage.

But after losing one of the leading lights in terms of promoting the city’s acts, Live at Leeds really has become more of a cornerstone of the local music scene than it has ever been before.

Whilst Leeds arena is starting to cement itself as a place to catch all the big pop acts and cheer alongside thousands of other paying punters, we need to give the underground and alternative music scene a day in the sun too.

- Live At Leeds runs from May 1 to 4. For more announcements about the line-up, which are due in the coming weeks, keep an eye on the YEP website.