Reading may have come first, but NME’s photo legend and self-declared ‘King of West Yorkshire’ Danny North says it’s time we admitted Leeds is the greatest site.
Today I’ve been in London, and I think I’ve been asked five times if I’m going to the Reading Festival. It could be six, but conservatively five. And whenever I say, “No, I’m going to Leeds,” everyone says, “Oh, sorry!” But what the fuck are they sorry about? I’m off to Leeds. And you should be asking if we can swap tickets.
Everyone thinks that Reading is the be-all and end-all. They talk about classic gigs such as 1993 with Rage Against The Machine at “Reading”. But it’s time people got over it. Leeds has come through. Leeds has the best site, it’s beautiful, and we usually get the best bands first.
We’ve got The Libertines this year on Friday. Everyone knows they just have to come to Leeds first. Because we get them in the mood. You come to Leeds first, we bring the party, everyone goes off to Reading happy.
You can see the bands like it more. Onstage at Leeds, Lars Ulrich from Metallica spat beer down my camera. Last year, Kaiser Chiefs played their big gig before taking a few years off, and that was a beautiful celebration. Also last year Gallows had come off a 100-date US tour or whatever and were simply amazing.
And I bumped into Beth Ditto in the toilets. I asked her to pose for a photo and she threw a bin at me. As a joke. I think there’s a lot in common with people from the south of the USA and the northern people of England. Everyone thinks we’re backwards when in actual fact we’re the leaders.
I’m a Leeds boy, born and bred… well, I was born in Bradford and lived and worked in Leeds from when I was a teenager. I worked in a little factory with my old man until my photographic skills blossomed. My first time at Leeds Festival was when Guns N’ Roses played with Buckethead, and I remember Slipknot being amazing.
And the Leeds site, well… it’s a bit more rock’n’roll and a bit more feral. It’s edgy – a proper festival. The crowd just seems more true to what a music festival should be – about the music, the beer and the party. Also, people at Reading moan about the sound being low. I’ve been to seven Leeds Festivals and not once have I heard people saying the sound was shit.
I love Leeds dearly because I’m on my own turf, so for me the vibes are always positive. Music is always about moving forward… and Leeds is the new Reading. Actually, it’s a shame to call it that: Leeds is the new Leeds. You can’t get any better. It’s the home of the North.
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