For the first time ever I’m visiting the Leeds Festival for one day only. And if I’m honest, I’m only visiting that day because of The Cure.
Having went every year since 2006 the lineup last year (which I didn’t go to) had very little to excite me. This year was similarly poor other than a rare (first festival since 1979) appearance of The Cure. So how could I not go to ’The Cure’ day?
The day started for us (Mrs Scramble and I) with Coheed and Cambria on the Main Stage. Known for their concept albums and science fiction-take on lyrics thing they played a strong set with a mix of old and new. Perhaps not surprisingly the song which got the biggest reaction from the crowd was closer, ‘Welcome Home’.
A brisk walk took us to the R1/NME Stage to see the hotly tipped Spector. The tent was bristling with excitement before the band arrived onstage, and once there we were treated to a set of classic indie anthems you’ve never heard before. Admittedly the crowd did know a handful but that didn’t stop the clapping and cheering along for the whole set. They went down very well indeed.
Sensing a lull in proceedings (from a very limited selection of top quality bands) we tried to watch Crystal Castles on the Main Stage but unfortunately Alice Glass’s vocals were still as echoed, turned right down and basically shit as they were when they played The O2 with The Cure in 2009. We left and headed to the Lock Up Stage for some NYC Hardcore with A Wilhelm Scream.
A Wilhelm Scream were noisy and angst ridden, and 1000 miles musically from Crystal Castles; a ‘relief’ to the ears. Besides any band who introduces a song with “This is a song about a horse. It’s called The Horse.” are more than OK in my book. We knew nothing by them, but it was a 30-40 minutes well spent.
Walking back across the site we caught Lucy Rose in the Festival Republic Stage. It was absolutely stowed, and although I’ve not heard of her, have ALL these people standing here? Probably. I’m perhaps finally having to admit to being out of touch! More Dido than Adele (thankfully) her songs are slow and sorrow-ridden. A quick check on Wikipedia informs that she is a vocalist on the Bombay Bicycle Club albums, which I have to admit to being a fan of. We watched perhaps 20 minutes of her chilled, and enjoyable (if slightly squished) forty minute slot.
A visit to the Alternative Tent gave us some comedy with Australian Adam Hills. Very funny and definitely worth checking out. Probably had to be there rather than me repeat any jokes but he was very funny. As an amputee he is also one of the few comedians who can say the following in a set and get a cheer, “One last thing I want to say before I crowd-surf my leg….” (in case you are wondering, he and his leg did both crowd surf, starting at opposite ends and meeting in the middle to much applause).
We headed to the Main Stage to see if You Me At Six had got any better since Download Festival, but I’m afraid to report that they are still wank. But then again I’m not a 16-year old girl flashing my Wonderbra at the big screen… We left.
Next was dinner time with Passion Pit playing behind us from the R1/NME Stage. The one thing that Leeds (and Reading) Festival does well is put amps and big screens outside of the tents so you can hear and see the bands without having to go in. This works very well when it is a) busy, and b) you wish to sit and chill. Passion Pit were very good and at times I forgot the background music was live, so I guess that is a compliment to them. I had considered going into the tent to watch them proper but the lure of fresh cooked sirloin from Ken’s Barbi was just too much. Delicious.
Bombay Bicycle Club have a great sound on the Main Stage with 10 musicians performing including a Horns section and Lucy Rose from earlier. I’m a fan of the band anyway and have seen them live a few times; their take on funky and fun indie rock was perfect for early evening on a Saturday night. We were even introduced to a new song, which unfortunately I didn’t catch the name of. It was a little more dance-oriented than previous tracks but sounded mighty fine.
Next were Paramore. Haley Williams talking after their first song starts with “Let us be this first to introduce ourselves- we are PA-RA-MORE!!!” To which there was more of a groan drowning out the high-pitched squeals of the Twilight-brigade.
She carried on with “I know those of you who have followed us since 2005 collect our Singles Club vinyls…” I tuned out at this moment. Politically correct or not, a few years back when taking my 14-year old niece to see them, a very good friend once referred to their sound as ’ear cancer’. On that night (and tonight) he was not wrong.
When Paramore finished their dirge of a set, fat teenage girl, after fat teenage girl in denim shorts and wellies left the main arena in an exodus of biblical proportions, lest they be mistaken for an ageing codger Cure fan. “Phew!”, I thought as they left, “I’m so glad I’m an ageing codger!”
Soon after we will have the main reason we are here: The Cure. Having played a career-spanning 2 and a half hour set last night at Reading I cannot wait. But first Mrs Scramble spotted a modern take on the ‘FREE HUGS’ craze from a few years back. A guy walks past holding a sign which read “FREE SHRUGS”. Not sure we’d read it properly, looked again as he dismissively shrugged his shoulders, gave a grin and walked away. Genius.
Now it was time for The Cure. Coming onstage to ‘Open’ and then ‘High’ from Wish the sound was immaculate: Captain Bob’s vocal as screechy and dejected sounding as ever. It wasn’t long before they played ‘In Between Days’, ‘Just Like Heaven’, ‘Pictures Of You’ and then ‘Lullaby’ straight after each other. Is this going to be a greatest hits set!?
We were then treated to ‘Caterpillar’ immediately followed by a note perfect ‘The Walk’. This was followed by ‘Friday I’m In Love’, proving that tonight they were on fire. It’s not like The Cure to play such a singles-heavy set, and at the time I wondered if they’d decided since it was a Festival to simply play to the crowd or remind everyone how relevant they have been over the past 30+ years? Regardless of the reasoning the choice of songs worked so well.
The music is note perfect throughout, the sound quality of the mix is ideal and Robert’s voice is spot-on. I know I only came to the Festival this year to see them, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to say they were fantastic if they were not.
However what resulted was a just exemplary performance from The Cure, and the limited choice of top quality bands earlier in the day were soon forgotten. Sheer joy.