Michael Oakes

Preview: Leeds Festival 2015

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The Reading and Leeds festivals are now a staple in the UK Festival calendar, bringing some of the biggest names in the world to hundreds of thousands of music fans across the country. With three days of music, 5 days of camping and hundreds of artists playing over two locations it’s easy to see why Reading and Leeds Festival still remains as popular as ever.

Earlier this year, Michael from PMD Drivetime chatted to Jon Mac; the talent booker for Reading and Leeds Festival.

Spark will be heading to Leeds Festival this year to bring you interviews from some of the artists playing this year. It’s impossible to see everyone playing with so many different stages, so we’ve narrowed it down to some of acts not to be missed.


The excitement around the return of The Libertines to Leeds Festival was heightened when they released ‘Gunga Din’, their first song in over a Decade, and announced details of a new album as well. Their absence from music hasn’t been as long as their absence from Leeds though, as Pete and co headlined the festival back in 2010.

Equally, or possibly more so, anticipated is the performance of Kendrick Lamar. Kendrick has been around for years, but received more mainstream recognition with the release of ‘Pimp A Butterfly’ which is arguably one of the best albums of 2015, even with four months of the year remaining. All the elements are there for Lamar to have one of the most memorable sets in recent festival history, and the multi-award winning Rapper from Compton is certain to deliver. The artists on K-Dot’s collaboration list are endless, so expect potential guests and surprises along the way.

Jumping from the Main Stage now to the NME stage, providing the a whole host of diverse artists from a number of different genres. One of the most exciting names of the Friday bill is Years And Years. The London trio, who were tipped as many to be the breakthrough act of 2015, have certainly lived up to the massive expectation thrust upon them. With a number of huge singles, including number 1 hit ‘King’, and a number one album ‘Communion’, Years and Years are sure to perform an incredible sent in front of a packed out NME tent.

Leeds festival is good for unearthing new talent and providing them with a platform to get their music out to a big audience. One of the artists hoping to do just that will be Black Honey. Tipped by NME as one of the ones watch, Brighton based Black Honey will hope to close a extremely busy festival season with a bunch of new fans, which they hugely deserve. With a couple of strong singles, an EP and a great live show; Black Honey, fronted by Izzy B Philips, should be on your ‘must see’ list of Leeds 2015.

The extremely talent multi-instrumentalist Jack Garratt is another big breakthrough act of 2015. He first came into the mainstream eye with ‘The Love You’re Given’ and hasn’t looked back since. He may just be one man, with a whole load of instruments and an incredible beard, but his live performances are as captivating and as mesmerizing as a stage filled with a full band.


The extremely high standard of artists continues into the Saturday of the Festival, with first time main stage headliners Mumford and Sons closing what looks set to be a fantastic Saturday bill. Mumford and Sons took a break from music after the release of album number two, Babel, back in 2012. They returned in 2015 with a new album and a new style of sound perfectly suited for a headline slot. They’ve ditched the banjos for the new album, but will they bring them back for the festival to dig into their back catalogue. Whatever direction Mumford and Sons take with their headline slot, it’s sure to be special as they take their deserved opportunity with both hands.

There seems to be a new wave of female fronted bands, with the likes of Pvris, Wolf Alice and Echosmith all enjoying a successful 2015 so far. Up there with the best of them is Molly Rankin and Alvvays. The Canadian band will make their Leeds Festival Debut this year, but are no strangers to the UK. Following a very successful self-titled debut album, Alvvays sold out a number of UK shows earlier this year and deservedly take their place high up on the Festival Republic Stage.

Bastille have enjoyed a hugely successful couple of years since the release of the their debut album Bad Blood in 2013. The lack of new Bastille releases in recent times is only adding further anticipation to the release of a second album and new music from Bastille. Although no solid information as yet about a second full album, they released their third mixtape which featured a number of collaborations and further demonstrated the immense range of styles and genres Bastille manage to cover. Each song on Bad Blood is extremely catchy and should provide for a crowd-pleasing set for Bastille, who may even demonstrate some new music (we hope).

Mercury-prize winners Alt-J returned in 2014 with ‘This Is All Yours’ following the departure of Gwil Sainsbury earlier that year. There debut album ‘An Awesome Wave’ was one of the most spectacular albums of recent times, pushing genre boundaries and providing a type of new and unique sound which hasn’t be heard before. The pressure was on for Alt-J to provide a second album which was equal to the debut in both quality and creativity. When ‘Hunger of The Pine’ sampled Miley Cyrus, it was immediately clear the creativity would be equalled. With two brilliant albums in the bag, Alt-J are deserving of their sub-headline slot on the main stage, and may one day take the honour of headlining in the near future.


Leeds have bagged themselves an exclusive performance this year, as it’s the only European festival on Bring Me The Horizon’s calendar this summer. BMTH have had a gradual sound change since they burst onto the scene with ‘Count Your Blessings’ and are even unrecognisable from their ‘Suicide Season’ days just 6 years ago. The release of ‘Sempiternal’ was probably their biggest today, presenting a more polished sound which include singing from Oli; something rarely seen before. The success of ‘Sempiternal’ is continuing into the new album ‘That’s The Spirit’, which is set to be the best album to date. ‘Happy Song’ and ‘Throne’ are instant anthems, something which will more than suit a festival audience, especial Leeds where they are regulars at the festival. BMTH are definitely not one to be missed.
What better honeymoon than sharing the same stage with Metallica, ey Oli?

Metal Sunday on the main stage continues with Alexisonfire. Back in 2011, the band decided to call it a day and cancelled plans for a fifth studio album, as Dallas went to concentrate on and Wade become Frank Carter’s replacement in the Gallows. Even though the band returned in 2012 for an international farewell tour, the plans to split still remained. But earlier this year, they announced on their social media pages that they were tour get together for some reunion shows at festivals; one of which is Leeds Festival. The full original line up return to play their first UK show since 2012. Alexisonfire have four very strong albums and have gained a substantial following during their 11 active years. Seeing Alexisonfire is a rare opportunity and should not be passed up. Let’s just hope there is news on a new album, please Dallas!

This next band have only had one album, but rightly find themselves towards the top of the main stage line-up. Royal Blood were one of the breakthrough acts of 2014 and were one everyone’s lips as the next big thing in rock. Their self-titled debut, which reached number one in the album charts, confirmed the hype around the band. They’ve been at every festival imaginable over the last year and now it’s the turn of Leeds festival to welcome the duo. The sky is the limit for Royal Blood, and with Dave Grohl’s approval as they opened for Foo Fighters, it’s clear this band are special.

Wolf Alice join Royal Blood on the list of amazing debut albums. Following the release of Blush and Creature Songs, the anticipation for a full length Wolf Alice LP was growing. The anticipation was worth the wait as My Love Is Cool reached number two in the albums chart. Ellie and co have had a hugely successful 2015 so far and seem to be growing in confidence and stature by the day. They performed a secret set at Glastonbury earlier in the year and smashed it. Now with an album under their belt, Wolf Alice in the NME tent should not be missed.


Oh Leeds, you’re going to be incredible this year. For more information head to http://www.leedsfestival.com/. Enjoy your Bank Holiday weekend.