We were lucky enough to attend the amazing Reading and Leeds on August bank holiday weekend. We’ve picked our definitive top 10 artists of the weekend.
10. Biffy Clyro
Biffy Clyro are very much Reading and Leeds veterans at this point, and are highly regarded as one of the best live bands in the business. No although they were faultless in their live performance and sound. The crowd and the festival really let themselves down and unfortunately the atmosphere just wasn’t there which inevitably did have an effect on their overall show. With this being said, they were on top form and showed no signs of rustiness.
Another band that are regulars at this festival now are Blossoms and I think that it would be incredibly difficult to get bored of seeing these guys live. I think we know that we’re not going to be blown away by a Blossoms gig unless it’s a Main Stage headline but my god did they put on fun show. The crowd were singing along word for word, and they pulled big numbers on the new main stage.
8. Sea Girls
Before the festival I had a pretty good idea of who was going to be on this list, however Sea Girls have managed to force themselves onto it with a very slick and well rehearsed performance. They pulled a huge crowd, which is impressive within itself considering the clashes that they had to deal with, and the Don Broco secret set didn’t help. They brought balls of energy onto stage with them and the audience responded with mosh pits and plenty of people on shoulders.
Now there are two reasons as to why Disclosure have been marked down in this round-up. They sounded unbelievable and the crowd was electric, it was one of the most enjoyable sets of the weekend. However with this in mind it was only a DJ set with the only live aspect coming from the odd horn section making an appearance now and again. Also, I was fairly disappointed at their light show as I know in the past they have had very chemical brothers-esque overheads and I didn’t feel that just using four huge screens with some graphics on made for a great show.
I swear to god I don’t think that Dirty hit artists miss when it comes to playing live?! Bea put on a really strong set of songs that sounded unbelievable on the main stage, although she did not have a huge audience, the ones that were there loved it.
5. Easy Life
Easy Life took to the main stage east at Leeds festival with immense confidence and that instantly radiated onto the crowd, everyone was instantly up for it. Performing a set full of their biggest hits, they had to audience hooked on their tight beats and singalong lyrics, they were a perfect band to watch whilst sat in the sun drinking a beer.
4. Tom Grennan
Now, Tom Grennan is a man who knows how to command an audience, and at Leeds Fest 2021, that’s exactly what he did. He pulled an absolutely huge crowd on the Friday and had the whole field dancing from front to back. Simultaneously he sounded very very good, and pitch perfect considering he was sprinting about the stage like a mad head.
I think the most annoying thing of the weekend was hearing a lot of people say the words ‘oh, I was really surprised as to how good Stormzy was’. Why?! Why were you surprised? He’s the King of Grime and probably the whole of the UK at this point and his headline set at Leeds Festival showed everyone why. I don’t know why but rap artists never sound amazing on the main stage at R&L, but Stormzy sounded incredible, and I was stood right at the back, which I had to be because Stormzy pulled what I believe to be the biggest crowd i’ve ever seen in that field, it was immense. He cycled through all of his hits which got amazing responses from everyone at the festival, as well as his back catalogue and although we didn’t get any appearances from Dave at Leeds, we did get Jack Grealish and Chunkz which looking back was a bit weird… regardless, Stormzy was brilliant.
I’ve always thought that if an artist is visibly having a good time on stage, that rubs off onto the audience, and that’s exactly what happened with Sigrid, on top of sounding incredible in a live setting she looked like this was massive for her and the audience loved it. She sang through her incredible successful album, switching it up with the pace and style of songs throughout. Sigrid didn’t have much of a light show, however the use of an on stage face camera was great, and we got to see her infectious smile up close. Her voice was note perfect and she dealt with the audience like a true professional.
1. Catfish and the Bottlemen
Now what’s a list of Top 10 Artists from an event without a little bit of controversy? With rumours of an incoming split and much discussion around the future of the band, Catfish and the Bottlemen returned to Reading & Leeds, conquered and then left. The band barely spoke a word between their songs, and played at 100mph, not even slowing down to play Hourglass or Glasgow. Personally I feel that this made the show so much better, they weren’t there to mess about, they were there to play some really good rock songs and give everyone the ultimate sing along.
I’ve seen this band a fair few times now and it was easily the best they’ve ever sounded and the atmosphere maybe being the best of the festival. Even if they do split up, that show seemed like a great end point, as they have come up through the ranks over the past ten years, after playing just about every available stage to them at this festival they were the perfect headliner, taking us back to the roots of Reading and Leeds, Rock & Roll!
Words by Jimmy Ingham