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  • Writer's pictureBasement Leeds

Live At Leeds in The Park 25/05/2024

Having attended my fair share of the well-established multi-venue city stomper, now aptly name ‘Live at Leeds in the City’, I was intrigued by the thought of an indie all-day and nighter in the famous Temple Newsam. The lineup was stacked with boy-indie heroes The Kooks, The Cribs Declan McKenna, alongside some oddly chosen, wild-cards like Sporty Spice and Corinne Bailey Rae.

(Photo of The Kooks by  Georgina Hurdsfield)

We started our day at the Big Top stage, or Big Muffle, as we began to call it. Festival tents are often renowned for a more boxed-in sound but this tent was constantly poor, up until The Cribs whose team clearly deserve a raise. Courting’s hit "Famous" could barely be discerned and neither could Sprint’s energetic punk, usually dazzling with Irish craic. Courting’s lead singer joked, ‘imagine you’re listening to this next track in Leeds’ worst club’, which the audience had gleefully named, ‘Space’. Some part of me thought, ‘at least the acoustics would’ve been better in there…’

The sound issues didn’t stop there. The main stage named after the dearly departed ‘Cockpit’ venue that members of the Kaiser Chiefs refuse to stop romanticising about when given an inch of air- time on Radio 6, was just as sonically stressful. Certified Leeds sweetheart Corinne Bailey Rae battled these sound issues, to very limited avail. Dressed in a sparkly one-piece and as dazzling as ever, her performance was largely underwhelming and at times resembled pub-rock. Tracks had important messages behind them such as uncovering black history, but it all fell short from lack of delivery. Her sound cut-out completely at one point, as the audience patiently and politely watched her lip movements. Sadly, it felt like a metaphor for the whole performance.

Mel C was definitely the strangest booking of the line-up. Having assumed that she must be ‘the one from Leeds’, there was a sense of at least some synchronicity. However, about half-way through her set, she announced that the Leeds native Spice Girl is actually Mel B. I was dazzled. As my spectrum of interest in post-Spice Girls solo-careers is rather lacking, I was shocked by the salience of the audience sing-along that she inspired. She went through her early work, dominated by acoustic guitars and cute lyrics. Yet out of nowhere, the middle of the performance suddenly went all techno, which I wasn’t expecting. It was nothing short of completely wild. A recently turned fifty year old Sporty Spice with rave visuals and bassy techno in the middle of Temple Newsam on a Saturday afternoon. Was I truly sober? Obviously, she ended it by hitting on all of our spicy heartstrings with her solo renditions of “Who Do You Think You Are”, “Spice up Your Life” and “Two Become One”. Honestly, this was all a welcome reprieve from the four chord indie pouring from each stage and hit on what this festival needed: a little spice.

(Photo of Mel C By Georgina Hurdsfield)

We managed to fend off most of the rain with a slight chill. But as Declan McKenna hit the stage, the heavens opened. He started his set with the first album classic, "Why do you feel so down?” Maybe because it’s just started raining and I’ve been here since 12pm. The set-list was an odd selection of first album tracks and ones from his latest, What Happened to the Beach?. You can tell he’s on a major label with the quality of the song-specific visuals behind each track. Some of them even veered on psychedelic, which was quite the combination with his boy indie. All of the new songs sounded full, unlike many of the other performances I’d seen on that Saturday. I’ve always had a soft spot for Declan, having seen him in 2015 in Guildford and watched his rise. He is a true performer and his band members really get into it. His set was definitely the best quality of the evening. When he played his world-cup-corruption-killing hit "Brazil", it was the most active I’d seen the crowd all day.

After Declan submerged himself into the crowd momentarily went missing, returned to the stage and said ‘ta-rah’, we strolled to The Cribs. The Yorkshire heroes from down the road in Wakefield really define what it means to do indie properly. Addictive chord progressions songs about girls and a prized Sonic Youth feature, all to a packed tent of rain-avoiders. They commanded the most rightfully adoring crowd and treated us to all the classics, such as "Men's Needs" and "Mirror Kisses". The set was extended where they let the crowd choose for them to play "Hey Scenesters". As someone who was rightfully addicted to their infamous album Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever for two years during my A-Levels, I was impressed by how good they still sound. They are truly Yorkshire’s indie


Topping off the night as the mud began to emerge, was The Kooks. Singing of times on the South coast and falling in love, they somehow are still going strong amongst all the line-up changes. The charm of their silly, marginally misogynistic and unbelievably basic lyrics still remain. This was very much a crowd-pleasing set, full of tracks off Inside-In/Inside-Out like “Eddie’s Gun”, “Matchbox” and what they called “the most inappropriate track of the album” “Jackie Big Tits”. Reflections of their long career were seen in the prelude to songs off Listen, such as “Westside” where Luke Pritchard remarked that it was a song that became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Both original members of The Kooks are now fathers and happily partnered up. For a band who blamed the timing of the Arctic Monkeys debut for hindering their success, they are still very much managing it. The energy was fun and nostalgic, for a mid-2000s British indie that clearly still gets crowds jigging and very much has a place in Leeds.

Words by Becca Healy

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1 commentaire

07 juin

mel c suddenly went all techno!!!

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