Metallica and co: Triumph of age over beauty at Leeds Fest

Metallica's James Hatfield on stage at Leeds Festival. (1508303AM21
Metallica's James Hatfield on stage at Leeds Festival. (1508303AM21

Review by Graham Chalmers

Much like Glastonbury earlier in the summer, it was the old-timers like Metallica who stole the show over the younger acts at Leeds Festival at the weekend.

As the sun shone and rain stayed away for most of the weekend, the veteran bands drew the largest crowds in general at this generally youthful festival.

And fans the Harrogate Advertiser’s team of Graham Chalmers, Laura Hill and Nina Swift talked to seemed to love the smaller layout of the area round and between the actual stages.

Organiser Melvin Benn hailed the three-day music extravaganza as a great success. Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar looked right at home on the Main Stage.

Headlining the final night, legendary metal band Metallica attracted one of the biggest crowds of the weekend.

Their mix of classic tracks and a spectacular light show and fireworks impressed men of a certain age who turned up in their thousands, making Sunday seem a bigger day in terms of crowds than Saturday to those who had the good fortune to attend.

Festival Republic managing director Melvin Benn himself was thrilled by the festival’s finale and how the whole thing went.

He said: “This year has been an incredible highlight for Reading and Leeds. Metallica brought us the largest production in the history of the festivals.

“Mumford & Sons and The Libertines proved themselves worthy of their headline slots, too.”

A tighter, less spacious site layout in terms of the festival’s eight stages made getting around vastly easier than normal.

Some fans thought it helped to see more of the acts in the massive line-up.

Others felt the new layout helped compensate for the downward trend in attendance numbers on the first two days which had been visible last year as well - after the capacity at Leeds was increased to 80,000 in 2012.

Among the wide range of acts, which included Harrogate’s Katie Skinner, who made her Leeds Festival debut on the BBC Radio One Introducing Stage with her band, were a few surprises.

Popular indie favourites Foals played a ‘secret’ set on the NME/BBC Radio One stage on Sunday afternoon, unveiling tracks from their newly-released album What Went Down.

Organisers’ bold move of booking US-based rapper Kendrick Lamar second top on the main stage’s bill on the opening paid off with an enthusiastic reaction from an audience awaiting headliners The Libertines.

Some older acts might have benefited from being on the main stage; ‘nu metal’ veterans Limp Bizcuit led by the irrepressible Fred Durst attracted the biggest crowd in Saturday’s line-up in the NME/BBC Radio One tent.

But the same situation also applied to a younger act - upbeat indie rockers Catfish and the Bottlemen - who packed out the same stage on Sunday.