Review: Arctic Monkeys and Jake Bugg produce perfect end to Leeds Festival

Jake Bugg
Jake Bugg

The sun shone down on the last day of Leeds Festival as Yorkshire lads Arctic Monkeys headlined the main stage with a strong set.

The anticipation for the Sheffield band had been apparent all day around the festival arena, groups of fans wore band T-shirts and had the initials AM painted on their cheeks.

Sunday was the busiest of the whole weekend and people poured into the main arena as the stylish Alex Turner took to the stage. He wore a black suit customised with a white Yorkshire rose on both lapels of his jacket – a nice nod to his fellow Yorkshire folk.

The band opened with Do I Wanna Know with thumping drum beats in a glow of yellow light, which set the tone for the night. A flare shot into the air and one burned down at the front of the crowd as thousands sang along. Dazzling lighting encouraged the crowd to dance around, turning them into a sea of bouncing bodies.

Turner was obviously happy to be playing in Leeds and thanked fans before saying: “It’s a beautiful night in the North”, which received huge cheers. In a further tribute, he dedicated Old Yellow Bricks to his home town of Sheffield, which did get the odd boo from the crowd.

During the show, Turner struck several Elvis-esque, one-arm-in-the-air poses. Brianstorm, Dancing Shoes, Teddy Picker and I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor were real highlights.

Closing the set with 505 and announcing it was the last song, lots of people began to leave, yet those who waited in anticipation for an encore weren’t disappointed. Aptly, they kicked off with One For The Road, then treated fans to When the Sun Goes Down and a slow-burning version of Mardy Bum before ending with R U Mine.

Preceding the Arctic Monkeys set was an hour-long gig from Jake Bugg – whose journey at Leeds Festival only started in 2012 when he made his debut on the Festival Republic Stage. Two years on he took the well-deserved place on the Main Stage warming up for the Arctic Monkeys, which is an incredible achievement for the 19-year-old from Nottingham.

As the sun set Bugg took to the stage wearing a black and orange jacket before. He opened with There’s A Beast and We All Feed It. Backed by an additional guitarist, as well as his usual bassist and drummer, he performed crowd-pleasers Troubled Town and Seen It All which saw everyone sing-along.

Me and You, Storm Passes Away and former single Two Fingers followed, to huge cheers from the crowd, which saw a few young girls on shoulders of friends flashing their chest to the young star. Bugg didn’t respond, just removed his jacket went on to play Messed Up Kids.

Marmozets.

Marmozets.

He then confidently played acoustic tracks Ballad of Mr Jones and Broken which had everyone’s attention and people sang in unison during the chorus. Picking up the tempo, Slumville Sunrise and Lightning Bolt ensured he went out with a bang.

Imagine Dragons, Foster The People and Peace also attracted large crowds throughout the day on the main stage, many choosing to sit and soak up the sun and the music. To much disappointment, Pulled Apart By Horses didn’t play their slot on the main stage after bassist Rob Lee is said to have collapsed.

Over on the NME / BBC Radio 1 stage, ones to watch Royal Blood proved popular. The duo from Brighton kicked off with Hole which was sang back to them by the huge crowd that had gathered, before launching into Come On Over. On hearing their music you’d never guess there’s only two of them in the band. Comments from people in the audience such as, “where are the other band members”, was amusing to hear.

Another hot act in the NME / BBC Radio 1 tent was Yorkshire five-piece Marmozets, whose intense front-woman Becca Macintyre performed punk rock songs as if she was a headliner on the main stage. She was very entertaining.

With dance tents, alternative stages and platforms for up-and-coming artists dotted around the site, Leeds and Reading Festival organisers really know how to put on a great event. Tickets are already on sale for next year. I wonder who will be headlining that one?