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FESTIVAL REPORT: Live At Leeds In The Park

When: 4th June 2022
Where: Temple Newsam, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England

As we entered the busy festival arena, Cassia could be heard from the DIY tent, imbuing us with the sense that this year’s festival season had definitively kicked off. Cassia, providers of positive indie pop which resembles the likes of Vampire Weekend, never fail to put a smile on people’s faces and warm up a crowd for the day ahead.

The first act we actually saw from within a crowd – a feeling I had much missed from the absence of festivals enforced by the Covid-19 restrictions – was Alfie Templeman. Templeman is merely 19 years of age but, from the MTV Main Stage, commanded the crowd well. By the third song, the bass had kicked in and the sound could be heard well. It’s always tricky to get the sound right at festivals but this concern had dwindled by the third song of the act. 3D Feelings’ and Happiness In Liquid Form’ were crowd favourites. Live At Leeds: In The Park landed smack bang in the middle of the Platinum Jubilee weekend and many were celebrating to Templeman’s indie tracks; Union Jack hats and a Platinum Jubilee flag being held up across someone’s shoulders were spotted.

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Alfie Templeman

Over at the DIY Big Top Tent, Confidence Man, arriving on stage with outfits that gave a nod to Talking Heads, told the audience everything they needed to know about the set. It would be the talking point of the day, especially for those who hadn’t seen Confidence Man before. Janet Planet, Sugar Bones and their fellow masked band members leave no stone unturned.

Three outfit changes for the fronting duo included light up bras and the outfits from the music video for ‘Holiday’. At one point, Sugar Bones descended into the crowd before popping a bottle of champagne into their midst. It was the highlight of my day.

The Dork Presents Tent held two stages directly next to one another, which meant there were no clashes. We saw Courting and Porij one after the other. Courting have recently come off of tour with Sports Team, humorously stating that “this is the best Sports Team gig I’ve been to” and urging everyone to see them on the main stage as they clashed, and because “I know you want to really.” Courting decided spontaneously to do a random set list, asking people what they wanted to hear, making them the act that most consciously attempted to integrate themselves with their audience. Courting’s self-aware post-punk is the opposite of their stage presence. As Sean arbitrarily sings the chorus of Wet Leg’s popular Chaise Longue’ and an Arctic Monkeys’ riff is utilised as an interlude, it’s clear that the band take their music seriously but certainly not themselves.

Mancunian Porij brought a large crowd which spanned both of the Dork stages as they showed off their sonic explorations into electronic and indie. Figure Skating’ and ‘Nobody’s Scared’ were executed with the sense that the band were enjoying it as much as the crowd, the audience showing raucous appreciation. Fronting the band, Eggy stated emphatically, “This is it baby, this is the last one of the set, thank you for being a delight” before encouraging the crowd. “Leeds, let’s f**king go.”

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Watching Sea Girls

The sun came out mid-afternoon whilst we treated ourselves to salt and pepper chips. This was a difficult decision considering the plethora of food stalls available, including local Leeds’ food, drink and live music venue, The Wardrobe. As we were tucking in, Sea Girls were being watched from the hill and were easy to see considering frontman Henry’s bold orange outfit despite our distance. Nevertheless, the MTV Main Stage could be seen from most parts of the site making it a wholesome congregational area, especially as the festival was open to all ages.

Arlo Parks vocals are consistently impressive and ooze tranquillity. Their backdrop was surrounded by flowers and low lights. There was a bit of sound leakage from the Hill Top Stage, which hosted the insatiable guitar music of the festival, but this wasn’t enough to dampen Parks’ vocals and jazz rhythms. In between Arlo Parks and Easy Life, The Vaccines – like Sea Girls – could be seen from one of the bar areas, their iconic indie sound reminding us of earlier Live At Leeds festivals we’d attended. As much as we were enjoying Live At Leeds: In The Park, it was certainly getting us excited for the return of Live At Leeds: In The City in October.

Returning to the DIY Big Top Stage, Easy Life stated that Yorkshire always “feels like a good vibe”, celebrating Leeds and its musical history. Having taken to the stage 30 minutes before hand, it was subtly expected that Arlo Parks might join Easy Life for their collaborative track, Sangria’, however, Murray noted that Arlo had to pop back home. Murray also made it obvious that he was enjoying himself, saying to the audience that “I’m downing gin and tonics as fast as I can” which was received with laughter. Their most recent release, Dear Miss Holloway’, which features Kevin Abstract, was a surprising addition near to the end of their setlist. Nightmares’ completed their set appropriately as Murray was happily crowd surfing, joined by drummer Oliver.

The end of the night brought us to Bombay Bicycle Club, the anticipated headliner and providers of all-round good vibes as the sun began to set. Always Like This’, ‘Luna’ and the more recent Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You)’ allowed for a crowd which – although packed together – had enough room to dance along to their music. Asking if this was potentially the start of the festival season, the audience agreed and Bombay Bicycle Club stated how happy they were to be playing. Lucy Rose – who has featured on a plethora of the band’s albums as a backing vocalist, joined them on stage – another ode to an artist who has featured at Live At Leeds a number of times. As a new festival platform, Live At Leeds: In The Park still maintained their commitment to backing emerging talent and it was a delight to see a band like Bombay Bicycle Club bring on Lucy Rose.

With that, we exited the arena with some ease, over-joyed to have seen a number of our favourite artists as well as having discovered a couple of bands that we’d love to see again. I’ve no doubt Live At Leeds: In The City will provide us with a similar experience, just as the inner-city festival has done so over the years.

All Photos: Jamie MacMillan

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.