Leeds was transformed into a colosseum of music, as renowned music venues across the City dedicated themselves for the day (and night) to the latest and hottest rising stars in British music.
It could not have been better – the atmosphere was electric, with enthusiasm abuzz regardless of the hour. As I heard many times from many a musician on stage – every hour was indeed rock o’clock on this autumn date.
Leeds Beckett Student Union particularly boasted some of the wildest ranges of artists, centring around the British pop and indie rock genres. It was fascinating to see each act put their own spin on old favourites, and whether there were the classic Britpop stylings of the Tom Petty-inspired Jack Valero; the psychedelic throwback to the ‘60s brought by The Dream Machine; or even the highly eccentric, Utopian and very welcome performance by The Last Dinner Party – there was a little bit of something for everyone.
Jack Valero had the unenviable task of opening the first stage of the entire day, but did so in good spirits. Their infectious enthusiasm garnered the attention of a groggy crowd coming in for the start of a solid eleven-hour day. As Jack himself said, “It’s never too early”.
I could count on both hands the people rocking up in time for the beginning of their set – a stark contrast to the dozens of people who arrived in time for the second song of the set.
Their contagious excitement was reflected in their stage presence, a wonderful and upbeat and undeniable foundation for the following acts to build from.
Ami Shoulder’s charm brought the audience alive, and the band produced a good range of music with the introduction of a touching acoustic ballad “Hollow Warmth” that had the crowd moved.
Recommended tracks: “This is a Nightmare” and Hollow Warmth”
The Dream Machine took things back several decades, to a time when everything was radical and it felt impossible to not get lost in the music.
With twanging guitars resurrected from those of a bygone era, the group provided a most welcome revival of psychedelic rock that had the expansive crowd of people swaying uncontrollably, as they cruised vibrantly through their set.
It also left me pondering that more bands should absolutely consider introducing a tambourinist to their repertoire.
Recommended tracks: “Too Stoned to Die” and “Lola, in the Morning”
The Last Dinner Party was an experience may I never forget for so long as I live.
I had only heard rumblings of chatter about this group prior to awaiting their set, when the anticipation reached a fever pitch around me, and the formally-dressed troupe graced the stage. Clad in party frocks, throws and dresses alike, they were out to impress on this given night.
There is so much that can be said for the performance they brought, as the room felt like time had been transcended to a dimension of a gothic and proper soiree.
Euphorically, the group brought forth a pantomimic production that provided angelic high notes and devilish breakdowns. The influences taken from such artists as David Bowie and that of glam rock bands left me hypnotised by the band’s impeccable commitment to wow the crowd, and create a time warp to a past in the present
There were instances I felt overtaken by Abigail Morris’s Freddie Mercury-esque presence onstage, and it was one enchanting and delectable experience that shall live on, and on.
Recommended tracks: “Sinner” and “Nothing Matters”.
Live at Leeds in the City, this time and this date were certainly one for the ages, and for all ages.
Feature image: The Last Dinner Party. All photography by Emma Gibbon.