Josh Robinson reviews the second Live At Leeds: In the Park which sees headline sets from Two Door Cinema Club, DMAs and The Lathums.
It’s summer, and festival season is now well underway. One of the earliest outdoor ones in the UK calendar is Live At Leeds: In the Park. After loving the inaugural one last year, I naturally made sure I was in Temple Newsam again this time around on Saturday 27th May.
This is the location where Slam Dunk Festival was hosted the following day, which came under scrutiny over refuted claims of overselling but admitted experiences of long queues and lack of food.
Contrastingly, Live At Leeds ITP didn’t have the same issues as it seemingly didn’t sell out again – perhaps due to being in its infancy. This led to a certain freedom and space to roam for everyone there, which was great considering it was a hot summer’s day.
We arrived at the site at around 12:45pm and shortly after baulking at the higher drink prices than last year*, made our way to the Rolling Stone Big Top. When we were scouring the stage and time slots for each artist, we knew the Big Top was going to be a popular spot for us.
*£7 a pint now. Honestly, it’s scary how your instinctive “f*** off” fades into the thought of “actually, could have been worse!”
Entrusted to kick off our day was indie band Gengahr. Through no fault of their own, technical/soundcheck issues meant there was a significant delay to their set. They eventually played a few that I’d liked on previous listens. New single ‘A Ladder’ is a personal favourite and was an earworm for the rest of the day.
I decided to cut short my time watching them though as the delay meant a clash with The Lottery Winners and Youth Sector. As I came out into the main stage, the former’s frontman was very chatty although slightly annoying, which put me off albeit maybe unfairly.
I wanted music rather than chat though after regrettably leaving Gengahr. So, I took a hard right turn and watched Youth Sector smash their last few songs instead. I saw them in Leeds earlier this year, and they were so good I reviewed it on here. Again, they thrived. They had a fair amount of people watching them roll through the hits on the Dork Left Stage.
I skipped back to the Big Top to watch Australian pop outfit Lime Cordiale. They were a popular choice, so we had to make do towards the back. This was fine, but their performance was so fun and captivating that you couldn’t help but wish you were nearer the front. They loved themselves, and that’s quite infectious at a festival. They even did a bit of WWE wrestling on the stage, which reflected how fun and enjoyable the whole thing was. At only six songs, it was short but incredibly sweet.
Following the set, me and one mate went right at the front for their successors, also from Down Under but this time New Zealand. It was for indie rock band The Beths, named pretty after lead singer Elizabeth Stokes. With the alcohol now flowing through the bloodstream, they were the ideal chilled out band to sway to. They were almost psychedelic in places and had a bedroom pop feel at points too, especially vocally.
The only thing that spoiled things was the aforementioned delay with Genghar meant one of the organisers told them they couldn’t played their final song. This can sometimes happen at festivals, fair play, but for them to be told as they’re basically saying this is our last song, and then take that away, was so poor. They should have been told earlier so they weren’t leaving the stage with their addictive album title track ‘Expert In a Dying Field’ unplayed.
Shortly after, The Big Moon were on, who I’d seen before as a support act and who I really rate. We missed the first few tracks due to food and drink priorities but stood at the back for the second half of it. And I have to say, it was so disappointing. 7 out of their 9 songs were from their latest album. Fair enough, as I wasn’t a massive fan of it, I was going to be a little underwhelmed by these.
But my point is, with only one of their other two tracks being a “classic”, where were their bangers? It’s a festival! Play your well-known stuff, win new fans, be at your best. The set was indulgent, they treated it as practice for playing their new album. There is a time and a place to play that kind of setlist, and it is at your own shows where people love you and know most of your catalogue. At a festival? It was a shocking decision.
When they did play a hit, closer ‘Your Light’, I’d already checked out mentally.
As I said, I really like the band. I’m all for trialling a bit of new music at festivals, but it should be a sprinkle, not a full-blown meal. It’s just basic stuff that when funloving festival people are in front of you, obviously wanting a singalong and a dance, you play ‘Sucker’ and ‘Cupid’. You just do.
The Big Top was then graced by a band that know how to please the crowd, Everything Everything. I’d enjoyed these Manchester art rockers from a distance, maybe feeling like I’d missed the boat a little to get into them as they had such a cult following, one of which was my friend Matt. They were his and our other friend’s priority on the day, and after getting into them more recently, I made them mine too. They justified our faith as they were fantastic.
Tracks from their 2015 third album Get To Heaven arguably were the standouts in a blur of loveliness. One of those, ‘Distant Past’ is the one that you may know if you’re not hugely into them. That and ‘Regrets’ saw the crowd really enjoy themselves.
My personal favourite though has to be ‘Spring / Sun/ Winter /Dread’. The chorus, with the title line followed by “I don’t want to get older, no way, no way” is perfectly relatable about the angst of growing up. They were a confident, assured outfit throughout, and you could palpably feel both the diehards and the newbies really take to the set.
Having done enough sun dodging, we headed back to the main stage to sit on the hill. We drank wine and ate some extortionate food whilst The Lathums and DMAs serenaded us from the Main Stage. Both were very decent performers to start off the mid-late evening.
DMAs’ famous rendition of Cher’s ‘Believe’ was very welcome and everyone lapped it up. The Lathums were impressive and a little unlucky they didn’t get our full attention due to the timing of their slot, but they showed why the hype around them refuses to die down.
We pottered around a few different stages seeing bits of the likes of singer-songwriter Brooke Combe and Maximo Park, who were both solid. At this point I was mainly in anticipation of seeing headliners Two Door Cinema Club. They came on around 9:20pm and I realised, as we headed towards the middle of the crowd, how much I love this band.
Although arguably not kicking on to dizzying heights following such a seminal 2010 debut album Tourist History, I still maintained a teenage adoration of them. I’ve liked quite a bit of their stuff since it too, in fairness. They played their classics (‘Something Good Can Work’, ‘What You Know’) and put in the odd curveball (‘Next Year’), as well as a couple of newer ones (‘Wonderful Life’ & ‘Lucky’). They got the festival set balance spot on across their 20-song celebration.
Lead singer Alex Trimble looked a little disinterested at times, which could have been a mix of annoyance at having to play all their old stuff and his naturally moodier stage presence.
It was a decade since I’d seen them live, at one of my first ever live gigs, at Alexandra Palace with my dad in 2013. Their support, you ask? Everything Everything. And if that doesn’t sum up the full circle moment I was having, as I stood there singing almost every line of the tracks they blitzed through, I don’t know what will. It was the cherry on the cake to top off a baking day.
And by selecting Two Door to close out Live At Leeds In The Park, the organisers showed they understand the correct formula. They ended with Bombay Bicycle Club last year. And now TDCC. The idea is clear: Feel-good music at the end. That’s what the punters want, and that’s what we got.
Same again next year? Yep, my ticket has already been bought