Sunday, 4 September 2011

Sunday Night - Leeds Festival 2011

The Strokes
-Leeds Festival 2011-

As the Leeds Festival 2011 line-up is announced on Radio1 back in the early days of Spring, I sat perplexed and anxious as to what one of Britain's most successful festivals had in store. Since hanging up my Leeds Festival boots in 2008 I do feel Leeds had struggled to establish itself away from the genre of simply 'anything mentioned in NME that particular year' (did I just make up a genre?), and so because of this hoped for a line-up of legendary stature. To some extent this happened. Despite the usual over-rated-big-this-year-but-dead-the-next acts plaguing the line-up like a bout of festival drizzle, Festival Republic did actually attract a small but highly respectable pool of artists. The most respected in my opinion, being Julian Casablancas, Albert Hammond Jr, Nick Valensi, Nikolai Fraiture and Fab Moretti, AKA The Strokes.

For my three years as a Leeds Festival pilgrim, I hoped and prayed for The Strokes to headline, a band to which played through my teen years an unbelievable amount. From Is This It in 2001 to Angles being released ten years down the line, I still believe The Strokes to be one of the most influential and talented acts to ever grace our ear-holes. So when a chance came to see my boyhood heroes, for free, on Sunday night at Leeds Festival 2011, I took it and ran (literally...)

Arriving at 8PM was a mistake. With my wellies/skinny jeans combination attached, I found myself sprinting from Brown Car park - 1.5 miles away from the main arena - to Julian and Co. To be fair, my sprint speed was greatly increased by the odd encouraging yell and distant sound of New York City Cops.

Despite the early inconvenience of being parked literally at the other end of the festival, I soon found myself established in the mid-section of a tired and dreary eyed Leeds Festival crowd, roughly 50,000 in size. The crowd seemed pensive and still, often only singing the most easy of lyrics to which even the biggest musical invalid would or should know - 'Last Night, She Said....'
However, this did not deter me from the biggest nostalgia-trip of my still relatively short (aged now 21) life. Watching Julian, sunglasses on, holding the microphone whilst beginning (twice) one of The Strokes most relaxing and superbly fitting for a Sunday night festival atmosphere - Under Control -was a moment of beauty. Hearing Hard to Explain, 12:51, Someday, Juicebox and then finishing on Take It or Leave It took me back to mid-teenage years - to when music magazines replaced maths books and the quest to lose ones virginity became of detrimental importance.

As the lights of the Main Stage grew brighter as the sun began to fall on Leeds Festival for another year, The Strokes remained stationary, rarely communicating with the crowd and never, not once, jumping to a certain riff or chord. To some this may of appeared rude, almost arrogant, but to those who have followed Julian and Co through the years, this lack of energy only increased the experience - doing what they have done better than anyone else in the last decade, being iconic.

Note; For those who like their acts to jump around, perhaps try My Chemical Romance, The Offspring or Thirty Seconds to Mars. Do write to us in 10 years time and let us know how these chaps are getting on....

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