Friday morning I awoke swimming in a sea of anticipation and nervous excitement. It was today I was going to my sixth Leeds Festival and so many questions needed answering. Would it be sunny? Would Pete Doherty turn up? Would my cousin get into the main arena with a box of wine strapped to her back? I would later find out that the answer to all these questions would be a resounding YES.
The half hour journey by car to the venue was pleasant enough, with glorious sunshine beaming down on the winding Bramham roads. The drop off point was clearly marked, a noted improvement on previous years.
On arrival at the main entrance we reached a stumbling point. I had a guest pass, and had bizarrely been sent a wristband rather than a ticket. This confused the hell out of the stewards, who proceeded to ask a trillion questions about where I got it. Eventually satisfied that I had not pulled the wristband off someone else's wrist, we were allowed in.
The first band we caught were The Futureheads. They were brilliant, my personal favourites, 'The Twist' and 'Hounds of Love' had everyone singing along to the catchy choruses. Barry Hide informed the crowd that he would like everyone to do a 'bouncy bounce'. He didn't have to ask twice. I saw some pretty impressively high jumps. Next up were The Mystery Jets. I was surprised they were on so early. It was at this point I came face to face with two of the biggest die-hard Mystery Jet fans in the whole world. I thought they were going to explode. They didn't, but I think they were close. It was lovely to see the joy etched onto their faces as they sang along to 'Young Love' and 'Two Doors Down'.
On the whole I thought the overall layout of the festival had improved and there seemed to be more bar staff, so consequently the queues where much shorter. The toilets were in an OK condition, although it was only the first day. As a vegetarian I was pleased to see the usual Vegan stand, and there was lots of choice for meat eaters. I got treated to some spring rolls, and proceeded to drop them during Dizzee Rascal. Dizzee knows how to engage an audience. He had them eating out of the palm of his hand. 'Dance Wiv Me', 'Holiday' and 'Bonkers' were real highlights. The crowd surged forward from nowhere during 'Bonkers', and for the first time ever I found myself on the floor. Luckily there was a nice man on hand to pick me up though.
The two bands I had come to see where The Libertines and Arcade Fire. The Libertines were the penultimate band, I was so excited waiting for them to come on, and delighted when I saw Pete Doherty. Doherty looked in really good shape, after claiming they had 'unfinished business' it was great to see the band back together again. I kept catching glimpses of the comradeship between Doherty and Barat and at points their collective creative flow was quite staggering. I am so glad they reformed for this festival. 'If you've lost your faith in love and music, then the end won't be long' I found myself screaming along to 'The Good Old Days'. I have missed this band.
Arcade Fire: in my opinion one of the greatest live acts. I had seen them at Leeds Festival a few years ago, and been completely blown away. I knew what they were capable of and anyone that had not experienced it before was in for a big treat. 'No Cars Go' was one of the first songs. I think this is the ultimate festival song, and I was so pleased they played it. This band is seriously talented, effortlessly moving from one instrument to another. One minute Regina is singing, then she is playing the harmonica, then the drums. Her talent is staggering. They played quite a few songs from their new album 'Suburbs', they didn't get as much recognition as songs from the earlier albums, but this one has only been out for a few weeks. 'I can taste your fear, it's gonna lift you up and take you out of here', 'Intervention' grabs the audience and pulls them in. They played quite a few songs from 'Funeral', 'The Crown of Love' had everyone dancing, as did 'Neighbourhood No 1'. Time flew by in the way it always does when you are enjoying yourself, and before I knew it they had left the stage, only to return with 'Wake Up'. What a performance! I left the main stage with a big smile on my face.
I now had the mundane task of finding a taxi, while being stuck in the wave of thousands of people leaving the main stage. I don't know what it is with stewards at festivals, but they never seem to know where you can get a taxi from. I kept getting pointed in different directions until, after approximately an hour of walking, I managed to find a field full of taxis. For a few seconds it was like being in heaven.
All in all I had a brilliant time at the festival, and I would recommend it to anyone - easy access, great bands, and an opportunity to smuggle in wine strapped to your back. What more could anyone ask for?
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