Live at Leeds in The Park: 25 May 2024 – Part Three (including Baby Queen, The Clause, The Mysterines and The Slow Readers Club)

Nicole Fazlinia shares her thoughts and impressions of, the Live at Leeds in The Park Festival – “…..a joy to attend and a privilege to perform”.

Since 2007, Live at Leeds has been delivering the sound of music to the UK. From the very moment of its inception, it has been indisputably famous for propelling up-and-coming or indie artists sky-high to fame. Now, it’s become a dream for the most aspirational performers to be selected for the lineup. 

The Kooks. Photograph by Mark Wheelwright

The venue is not only a joy to attend, but also a momentous privilege to perform there. Based at Temple Newsam, the Live at Leeds: In the Park festival occurs every summer on the late May bank holiday. Trust me, it’s not one to miss!

Declan McKenna. Photograph by Mark Wheelwright.

In previous years, the Festival had been headlined by the likes of Marina and the Diamonds, Stormz, The 1975, Ed Sheeran and of course Alt J.

Baby Queen. Photograph by Jazz Jennings.

. No big deal! This year, Live at Leeds brought us The Kooks, Declan Mckenna, Mel C and Corinne Bailey Rae.

Mel C. Photograph by Mark Wheelwright.

‘Girl put your records on’, indeed, as I immediately jumped on Spotify to dutifully revise my lyrics in preparation for the Festival. If there’s anything to acknowledge about Leeds, it’s that we definitely know to how host a music festival – the crowds bring it every time. With its 70,000 capacity and 5 stages, audiences were massing at every show, from the curiously gathering crowds around the excitingly fresh and new indie bands, to the regular audiences for classic, well-known performers. Everyone was listening intently for their next playlist add. 

Corinne Bailey Rae. Photograph by Mark Wheelwright.

If the promise of neoteric music wasn’t enough, the food would be! Everyone knows festival food prices are insanity (I am ashamed to say I once paid £15 for a very poorly assembled cheese toastie) but at Live at Leeds you truly got your bang for your buck. The pizza was mouth-wateringly cheesy, melting around all of the piping hot fresh produce used for toppings, including vegetarian options. In case you weren’t in the mood for Italian dishes, there was the Cheesy Pig van, which had perfectly crispy deep-fried pigs in blankets on top of fluffy chips or resting deliciously in-between juicy burgers.

For any readers with a sweet tooth, the Churros van took the cake. I’m entirely willing to go again next year just to experience its delightful cinnamon- flavoured crunch, which was accompanied by smoothly nutty chocolate dip.
Honestly, it made my day. 

The Clause
The Clause was one of the earliest sets of the day, so I took a nice and brisk walk to The Temple Stage very first thing when I arrived. Truthfully, I had no clue what to expect bar the typical engrossingly electric indie-rock inspired sound Live At Leeds always brings to the proverbial table. I wasn’t too familiar with them at the time, but, man, am I glad to be now! Ever-so-polite lead vocalist Pearce Macca started by thanking Leeds, and delving into the background of the band.

The Clause. Photograph by Millie Stephens.

I always find when an artist explains themselves from the start, it paints a wonderfully detailed backdrop for the whole set, encouraging audience interaction and shedding some light on their songs. In case you were wondering, the dream team quartet band is actually native from the Midlands, with their roots in Birmingham, made up of Pearce Macca (vocalist), Jonny Fyffe (bassist), Liam Deakin (guitarist), and Niall Fennell (drummer).

The Clause. Photograph by Millie Stephens.

My favourite of the set was the brilliant title song ‘Electric’, taken from their EP, also named ‘Electric’. Now that’s a fitting title! Slightly reminiscent of old Arctic Monkeys (think ‘Whatever People Say I Am, I Am Not’) meets badass movie soundtrack, it starts with the western-style, soulful twanging of an electric guitar to a catchy ‘House of the Rising Sun-esque’ beat. The build-up leads to a simple yet immensely effective mutter of ‘electric’ from vocalist Macca, before being carried by an undoubtedly swaggering guitar riff straight into the lyrics. Despite the satin-smooth chicness of the start, ‘Electric’ never strays far from its rock sound. The core message of the song is woven into the
expertly written lyrics, immediately opening with ‘there’s a spark between you and me’, not-so-subtly using wordplay to reference the title. Mid-way through, the band somehow managed to give rise to enough crowd chemistry that they
had early-morning fans hyped up enough to both clap along, and to repeat back the addictive ‘its electric’ mantra found in the chorus of the song. Immediate add to the playlist. 

Baby Queen
Next up was Baby Queen (main image by Jazz Jennings) over at the Main Stage, known otherwise as ‘TheCockpit’. With a sold-out tour presale, ‘Baby Queen’ Arabella Latham boasts over half a million Spotify monthly listeners. Also, hers is the face of the soundtrack of the hit Netflix show Heartstopper. The very first thing I noticed about the crowd was that her fans had formed a mini army for the occasion, decked out in a uniform which consisted strictly of her merchandise, but were all still immensely warm and welcoming.

Baby Queen. Photograph by Mark Wheelwright.

Despite the show not having even started yet, energy was already at a reaching-the-roof high. I could’ve sworn I heard one particularly eager fan whisper that if she sees Baby Queen she ‘might die’. My hopes were already high for this performance, wanting to jump onto the bandwagon effective immediately.

Baby Queen. Photograph by Jazz Jennings.

Owing to time constraints, Baby Queen explained that she could ‘only play the bangers’, and play the bangers she did, particularly, ‘Quarter Life Crisis’. The song is emotionally charged, nostalgic of P!nk, and delves into the hardships and worries relatable to all who are trying to navigate their Terrible Twenties but having an awful time doing it, except it’s to a fantastically sparkly and girly Synth-Pop tune. Combined, this forms a very meticulous, cynically catchy and sarcastic sound, similar to Olivia Rodrigo’s GUTS album. During ‘i can’t get my sh*t together’ Latham showed off her excellent crowd control skills, effortlessly engaging the masses who had flocked to the main stage for her performance. The pre-chorus features echoes of ‘smile and wave’, which she used to encourage the crowd’s interaction with the lyrics. Noticeably, Baby Queen’s songs all consistently seemed to bring awareness to the issues surrounding mental health in the modern day. 

Selfies with fans.

Before moving on, it must also be said that her lighting technician or set designer absolutely killed it with the plethora of alternating colours that changed perfectly in time with the beat. I hope they all had as good of a time putting that performance together as I did watching it!

Baby Queen. Photograph by Mark Wheelwright..

The Mysterines 
I know I’ve been saying this about all of them, but the female-led ‘The Mysterines’ were yet another one of my favourites. The Liverpool four-piece consists of singer Lia Metcalfe, guitarist Callum Thompson, bassist George
and drummer Paul Crilly, and they’ve certainly been making waves, opening for Arctic Monkeys and Sea Girls to name a few.

The Mysterines. Photograph by Millie Stephens.

The whole set had a cooly laid-back, effortless feel to it, whilst also somehow being contradictorily intense. ‘Dangerous’ was taken from their 2023 Rock album ‘Reeling’, and was my hit of the day. The song is ‘dangerously’
addictive, with its captivating lyrics and tune woven together by the hypnotically raw voice of Metcalfe and the talented spark of the band.

The Mysterines. Photograph by Millie Stephens.

‘All these things’, also from ‘Reeling’, was my next top pick. The song opens with a satisfyingly heavy instrumental but is combined with a sweet overtone – a drastic change from the rest of the album. It’s the type of thing I would love to blast on the radio whilst I dramatically drive on an open road with the wind in my hair (I am a terrible driver). It hadn’t gone unnoticed that one member was donning a green ribbon pin on his lapel, known for promoting mental health awareness. It’s always good to know you’re supporting the right people. 

The Mysterines. Photograph by Millie Stephens.

The Slow Readers Club 
Hailing from just next door, the Manchester-based band has already reached the UK Top 20 with their album, ‘Build a Tower’, and will be touring again shortly with tickets already on sale. The band is made up of vocalist Aaron Starkie, guitarist Kurtis Starkie, bassist James Ryan, and drummer David Whitworth.

The Slow Readers Club. Photograph by Millie Stephens.

Immediately, they built up a very particular brand identity with the audience, having a black banner with ‘The Slow Readers Club’ spaced out evenly across it as you would see on the wall at an optician’s office. Slightly reminiscent of Depeche Mode, the set consistently featured an uplifting, bouncy, happy-go-lucky rhythm with contrasting strikingly dark lyrics. ‘All I Hear’ was my pick of the set, where vocalist Aaron Starkie showed off his impressively wide vocal range live, whilst the other band members had the crowd already bopping their heads and jumping along to the instrumentals, which could truthfully only be described as an absolute earworm of a tune.

The Slow Readers Club. Photograph by Millie Stephens.

Shortly after, it quite literally rained on our parade. Somehow, though, that didn’t stop the spirits of the Live at Leeds crowds. Ponchos were out, hoods were up, umbrellas were unleashed – we were all prepared for battle. The Kooks finished the night perfectly, because there’s just something rather special and magical about dancing and singing in the pouring rain to ‘She Moves in Her Own Way’ in the middle of a field with thousands of strangers whilst the sun sets. 

More Live at Leeds reviews to follow:

Good neighbours. Photograph by Jazz Jennings.
Good neighbours. Photograph by Jazz Jennings.
Caity Baser. Photograph by Millie Stephens.
Michael Aldag. Photograph by Millie Stephens.
Matilda Mann. Photograph by Millie Stephens.

Don’t you just love the British music scene?

We’ll be back soon with more words, more pics and more of our brand of enthusiasm and insight.

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