I love Leeds (it’s where I live and everything). One of the main reasons that I love Leeds is because it plays host to what is undoubtedly one of the healthiest and most vibrant live music scenes of any city in the country. Since Live At Leeds came into existence in 2007 (a day long event mimicking the format of events like Dot to Dot and Camden Crawl), it’s been steadily growing into its skin with more impressive line ups each year. I’ve been looking at the schedule for this year’s excellent roster of artists, and I’ve been excitedly planning my jagged trips from venue to venue (a plan which will inevitably turn into hanging out in the Brudenell all afternoon, getting quietly drunk). And so, after some thoughtful pondering, here are Muso’s Guide’s five warmest recommendations for Live at Leeds 2011:
5pm @ 02 Academy
Forgive us for the obviousness of our first choice, but it would be stupid to leave Blake off our list just to be contrary: James Blake is undoubtedly a must see. He’s been turning offers down left, right and centre for all sorts of festivals, and so it’s a real coup for Live at Leeds to have snapped him up, and it would be a crime to snub him. In a bold spot of programming, Blake isn’t going to be headlining any of the venues – instead, we’ll be seeing him at five in the afternoon in the 02 Academy; a time slot where his brooding minimalism wont suffer from a sense of anticlimax in a room full of drunks looking to throw shapes and get off with each other.
Pulled Apart By Horses
10pm @ Leeds Met University Union
Live at Leeds have really got their pacing nailed this year. Like we said before, having Blake headlining would lead to an anticlimactic brick wall, despite the size of his name. Pulled Apart By Horses – especially playing in the relatively intimate sweat pit of Leeds Met University Union – will provide a suitably frenzied climax to the day when they play at ten in the evening. Their balls to the wall brand of hard-rock propulsion should cap the night off in style. And the fact that it’ll be a hometown gig should only serve to escalate energy levels further.
10pm @ Holy Trinity Church
If your day has been a) a soul-crushing disaster of endlessly twatting about between venues in the rain, or b) a triumphantly tiring day of hard drugs, dancing and scotchsince breakfast, then you might find yourself in the mood to skip some of the more upbeat headliners and wind down gently with a softer act like Anna Calvi. In a brilliant bit of scheduling, she’ll be bringing her widely acclaimed blusy acoustic numbers to the gorgeously fitting venue of Holy Trinity Church. If you saw her on Jools Holland the other week sounding (and looking) all broody, fierce and sexy, then you’ll know that Calvi can be more commanding than her nu-folk, Gurardian-friendly reputation would have her be. If you find yourself craving this sort of thing after a long day of rock music, Anna’s just the ticket.
7pm@ Leeds Met University Union, Back Room
Blow away the early evening fatigue with some fierce blasts of chorus-chorus-chorus-chorus pop fuzz. Cramming in as many hooks as possible into two minutes or less, Mazes should be a real pick-me-up for a point in the day when our energy levels might be starting to sag. It’ll be cheaper than grabbing a coffee, and you can’t deny that there’s some sort of seedy allure to the idea of a punk gig taking place in the ‘back room’ of a university union, right? They’ve recently played a great live session on 6 Music, and we’re looking forward to catching them in the flesh for the first time.
6pm @ Mine, Leeds University Union
Paper Crows are currently real blog darlings, not having played too many shows outside of the big city of London. They’re a boy-girl duo, and one of those rare acts who have managed to channel dubstep-infused production techniques into a purely song-based format. They’re playing in one of our favourite venues of the circuit, Mine at Leeds University Union: a suitably intimate, dank and creepy little space which could suit Paper Crow’s Gothic beats and ethereal melodies down to the ground. After the set, you’ll be well adjusted to getting back out onto the streets as dark begins to fall..
Of course, these five picks are just scratching the surface – there are so many more great acts playing across the weekend, in so many amazing venues. Man, I love Leeds. Come to Leeds.
Live at Leeds: Saturday 30th April (with supplementary events on Friday and Sunday)