Playing at a festival just before Radiohead? Intimidating. Just ask Bloc Party, who were on the defensive from the off during their second-top-of-the-bill slot at the Leeds Festival on Saturday (August 29).
Playing at the same time as Radiohead? Even more intimidating, you might think. Especially if you’re actually the one due to attempt to siphon fans from the Main Stage at the exact moment Thom Yorke and co are playing ‘Just’.
Lostprophets’ Ian Watkins combated any possible nerves by announcing that Radiohead can “kiss my fucking arse” during his band’s NME/Radio 1 Stage headline show. La Roux shrugged off the competition by suggesting that the ‘head were a completely different proposition to her electropop, so it wasn’t an issue. And for their total lack of jitters they were both rewarded with scenes of mass tent-shoving as they drew some of the biggest crowds of the weekend in their respective arenas.
Lostprophets on the NME/Radio 1 stage
It turned out to be genius billing from the bosses – the thousands of punters less inclined to end their Saturday night with the more cerebral leanings of Radiohead (basically anyone daubed by neon paint at any time over the weekend) got fucked up for a mosh-fest or an ‘In For The Kill’ screech-along. Everyone over 25 went to Radiohead. Hardly a ‘Drop off the kids and we’ll see you after Thom Yorke plays the one about Tony Blair’ situation, but there was a distinct division.
La Roux on the Festival Republic stage
The Radiohead headline set itself? A textbook, fantastic show from the band who, since Noel Gallagher finally decided to stop letting Liam-ed every night, are pretty much the UK’s biggest band.
Radiohead on the Main Stage
‘Creep’ unmissed due to the equally vein-rushing ‘Just’, the menacing build of ‘2+2=5’ and the glowing rush of ‘Everything In Its Right Place’ to send us into the night, perfect sound with none of the apparently wind-caused volume problems down at Reading (again), this was epic stuff.
The defining moment for me was when, during ‘You And Whose Army?’, my favourite Radiohead song, a camera zoomed in for an extreme close-up of Yorke’s eye, with the frontman suddenly flicking his lid up to make extreme eye contact with the thousands in attendance. It brought a nervous rush then a ripples of cheers, like when a monster bursts from behind a door in a horror flick. Spine-tingling stuff.
Still, I’m sure Lostprophets were good too.