Live at Leeds 2018 – Review

live at leeds 2018 review magic gang o2 academy

By Ceri Saunders, May 2018

Live at Leeds has quite the reputation to uphold. Since its inception in 2007, it has gone from strength to strength, now boasting some 200 acts performing across some of Leeds’s biggest and most intimate venues, giving new and upcoming acts their time to shine alongside some of the country’s most exciting and established acts. And that’s exactly what they did on a blistering Bank Holiday Saturday for the festival’s 11th year.

Getting everything to run smoothly is quite the feat, whether it’s cramming 100 people in to tiny venues to catch a glimpse of the next big thing or packing out the event’s biggest venue, the O2 Academy, with its 2,300 capacity. Those with the slightly more expensive VIP ticket (priced at £50 without booking and postage) can, however, jump to the front of the queue for every venue, making the most of those precious minutes as the day goes on.

live at leeds 2018 review GRDNS Nation of Shopkeepers

GRDNS at Nation of Shopkeepers

“Kicked things off”

Logistically, it’s pretty impossible to traipse from one side of town to the other to see absolutely everyone you’d like to, so there are inevitably a few compromises and disappointments. But we managed to catch eight acts in 10 hours, which for the price of a ticket, ain’t bad.

Highlights of the day came from Bradford-based GRDNS, who kicked things off at Nation of Shopkeepers at midday. Their psychedelic, grungey noise got their intimate crowd fired up for the day to come, and while they’ve only released a few singles thus far, they promise much more in the near future.

live at leeds 2018 review peace o2 academy

Peace at O2 Academy

“One of the best venues”

Other Yorkshire acts to impress were dancey, synthy and hip-shakingly brilliant three-piece Polo, who drew in a crowd at Headrow House at 1pm. Tucked away in the upstairs of an old textile mill, it must surely be one of the city’s best venues.

Away from smaller Yorkshire-based acts, we also opted for Brighton four-piece The Magic Gang at the O2 Academy mid-afternoon, who drew in a crowd of mostly sub-20s echoing lyrics from their recent debut album straight back at them.

live at leeds 2018 review the vaccines o2 academy

Headliners The Vaccines at the O2


And afterwards, a short bus journey ensured we got to the Brudenell Social Club for the mind-blowingly brilliant York four-piece The Howl & The Hum, giving everything they had for a set that I could have watched for hours, before heading back in to town to catch Newcastle’s The Pale White and hitmakers The Vaccines finish off our day back at the O2.

But this is the brilliant thing about Live at Leeds – there is something for everyone, and many acts you hadn’t heard of leave you asking for more. Acts continued until 11.45pm, with an official after party later on, too.

I’ve come away with a long list of acts I’ll be listening to on repeat, many of them hailing from God’s own county. And there’s absolutely no doubt I’ll be there next year for more of the same.

Our Day in Full
GRDNS @ Nation of Shopkeepers – 12pm [@GRDNSBAND]
Polo @ Headrow House – 1pm [@PoloMusicUK]
Peace @ O2 Academy – 3pm [@PEACE4EVEREVER]
Stereo Honey @ The Church (Dork stage) – 4.30pm [@stereo_honey]
The Howl and The Hum @ Brudenell Social Club – 6pm [@howlandhum]
The Magic Gang @ O2 Academy [@_TheMagicGang]
The Pale White @ Nation of Shopkeepers – 8pm [@thepalewhite]
The Vaccines @ O2 Academy – 9pm [@thevaccines]


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