Madness

Madness

As Leeds and Reading Festivals reached their final day, we spent most of our time at the intimate Lock Up Stage at Leeds.

Kicking things off in front of a very small crowd was SHARKS, who didn't let the lack of people put them off.

The crowd grew by the end of the band's energetic set which proved that comparisons to the likes of Social Distortion and The Clash aren't unfounded.

With the likes of The King Blues guitarist Jamie Jazz watching from side-stage, it's clear from this show that SHARKS are one to watch on the UK punk scene.

From relative newcomers to a journeyman, Seasick Steve returned to the festival following a well-received NME/Radio 1 Stage slot last year.

Taking to the Main Stage, Steve's live bassist - legendary Led Zepplin member John Paul Jones - got a great reaction from the huge crowd.

He brought anecdotes, great tunes and home-made guitars (including one made from two hubcaps and a broom handle) to the stage in one of the highlights of the weekend.

Unfortunately, Madness failed to live up to expectations during a set that, despite some highlights, largely fell flat.

It wasn't that songs like 'It Must Be Love', 'Our House', 'Baggy Trousers' and 'House of Fun' didn't sound good or get a big singalong - they did.

However, they were all played together near the end of an 18-song setlist, the remainer of which failed to keep up any kind of momentum or entertainment.

Thankfully, Jimmy Eat World were at their best, kicking off an energetic and well-received set with 'My Best Theory'.

Although the crowd was into the whole show, it was a finale of 'Pain', 'Bleed American', 'The Middle' and 'Sweetness' that highlighted the set.

Not surprisingly, the final few tracks made sure everyone was singing along and back in the festival mood after a lukewarm set from Madness.

For the remainer of the day, Female First were rooted to the Lock Up Stage, firstly to catch hardcore-punk stars Capdown, who reunited last year.

With influences ranging from punk and ska to hip-hop, the band put on a great show to a packed tent.

Front-man Jake Sims-Fielding carried the set with incredible energy, leaping around the stage for the duration of a solid set.

Although playing to a diminuished crowd, The Bronx overshadowed Capdown's show with a stunningly intimate and raw performance that marks the end of their current touring schedule.

Matt Caughthran was on incredible form, with real passion in his vocals and performance, going into the crowd a couple of times to start circle pits and be with the fans.

As the show came to a close, he was in the front row wearing a baboon mask, revelling in one last gritty punk show before the band take a break from touring, hopefully to work on another record.

This proved that The Bronx are a hugely underrated part of the global punk-hardcore scene, with their talent and obvious love of performing shining through.

The tent filled up as The King Blues got ready to unleash their relevent, politics-fuelled brand of punk/ska/hip-hop.

It was a predictable set in terms of structure and content, but the energy and enthusiasm both fans and the band have for them never gets old.

Songs like 'Let's Hang The Landlord' and 'Headbutt' were delivered brilliantly, and new track 'Power To The People' sees The King Blues further blurring the dubstep and reggae influence on their music.

Marking the band's third appearance at Leeds Festival since 2007, it highlights a remarkable journey, and few would argue against the band headlining this stage within the next year or two.

Indeed, based on this set alone, they probably should have been headliners this year.

Despite a smaller crowd (presumably due to a lot of punters heading to see Pulp), The Mighty Mighty Bosstones closed the weekend in style.

As a band who pioneered the ska-punk, third wave scene (influencing the likes of Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake), the band still seemed fresh and energetic, carried by the charisma of front-man Dicky Barrett and dancer Ben Carr.

The band almost shamed Madness with their energy, despite Barrett only being three years younger than Suggs.

For those in attendance, it was a fantastic, upbeat conclusion to a Leeds Festival that, in spite of doubts over the quality of the line-up, still held up as a great weekend of live music.

Female First - Alistair McGeorge