Live at Leeds is a day festival in Leeds which took place yesterday. It involves running round a city, finding new music and listening to great bands. A few days ago I did a folk guide of my recommendations of who to see at Live at Leeds. I managed to see quite alot of these bands and a few others too. Overall I had a really brilliant day!
My Live at Leeds began with Melodica, Melody and Me, a London based 6-piece (although there was only 5 of them on this occasion). They make upbeat folk music, resembling Noah and the Whale in their ‘fun fun fun’ days. They were sweet and had a lot of energy, which was good for a band playing so early in the day. They are unlikely to find commercial success but at least they will bring a smile to a lot of faces.
I then ran to the Cockpit Room 3 to find a packed out room for Leeds-based folk starlet Sam Airey. He is a very talented songwriter and has a relaxed but confident stage presence. I have seen him solo before but he also had a cellist and backing vocalist which was a nice change. His EP ‘Seasons Change’ is very beautiful and highly recommended.
The main band I wanted to see was Blue Roses who were on at the Holy Trinity Church at 4. After last years disappointment of not being able to see certain bands because the venue was full I decided to head to the Church straight after Sam Airey. It also meant I got to catch two bands who are fairly new to me, Glaciers and Paul Thomas Saunders. Glaciers are the solo project of Nicolas Burrows. He sings acoustic-indie songs of which most seemed to be about tides and specific places. His voice live is much more impressive than on record and it has a lovely freshness to it.
I have seen Paul Thomas Saunders before and again I was very impressed. For a band that looks like school children they make a remarkably mature sound. They have already come along way in establishing themselves as one of Leeds best alternative acts but if the song writing talent of Paul Thomas Saunders only gets better then Leeds have created quite an extraordinary unique artist.
Then for Blue Roses, another solo project, this time of Bradford born Laura Groves. If beauty had a sound it would be Laura Groves’ voice. A truly stunning talent for the most beautiful venue in Leeds. Blue Roses may be shadowed by other similar artists such as Joanna Newsom or Laura Marling but in a venue of these acoustics there is no hiding her beauty and it rises above any comparisons or criticisms. She also has a unique art of making the songs quite different from on the album, particularly the vocal melodies but still manages to keep the stunning delicate folk sound of the songs from her 2009 self titled album. If you don’t have her album, you really must get it! In my ‘Best New Albums of 2009’ list it was number 2!
After three bands in the Holy Trinity I headed back to the Cockpit Room 3 for Matthew P. An artist I knew little about but after listening to a few tracks on his myspace which instantly reminded me of Johnny Flynn, I decided to go and see him. He was not quite what I expected, more Paolo Nutini than Johnny Flynn. Still, he has a lovely voice and a charming stage presence and if he keeps creating the type of songs which 14 year old girls fall in love with, he could be quite a success.
After a failed attempt to find the venue that Kill It Kid were playing, I went to Leeds Met to see Esben and the Witch. They are a band who I have loved ever since hearing the haunting wails of Rachael Davies voice on ‘Marching Song’. Her voice on record blew me away but it in no way justifies her live abilities. They were phenomenal, there live sound and the atmosphere they create gives me goose bumps. They are about to embark on a UK tour supporting The Big Pink and also have a few summer festivals planned, if you can catch them live, really do, incredible!
After that spine tingling performance, I headed to the Brudenell Social Club. I wanted to see Ellen and the Escapades at 10 and decided to get their early to make sure I got in. I caught part of Fran Rodgers set last year at the Holy Trinity Church and this year I was able to see her whole set. She plays ‘nice’ folk, the sort of thing you find at folk festivals. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s not the sort of folk that is going to blow you away but it was very pleasant to listen to and she has a very comfortable stage attitude.
Then for half an hour I had to sit through a band who played heavy rock music, with no vocal line and what seemed like only 1 song. But it was worth it to see the wonderful Ellen and the Escapades. I first saw Ellen and the Escapades last year supporting Fanfarlo, they blew me away. Since then they have come a long way, winning the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition and now set to release an EP on July 12th. There like a 70’s folk-rock band, which the same energy and hippie festival vibe about them, they will be perfect at Glastonbury. They played all the usual energetic numbers and a few new tracks which were engaging as ever. I absolutely love this band and wish them all the best in the future, I think and hope they will go far! LOVE Ellen and the Escapades!
Overall, a really good day with some brilliant performances. Cannot wait for next year! Hope everyone else enjoyed the day too!