It’s just one week until Reading & Leeds, with must-see acts including The Libertines, Mumford & Sons, Kendrick Lamar, Jamie T, The Maccabees and so, so many more. We’re pretty excited, so join us in looking back at 55 cracking photos from the 2014 edition of the festival, which featured the likes of Paramore, Palma Violets and Jungle.
Arctic Monkeys brought Leeds to a spectacular close on Sunday night (August 26).
Arriving on stage to a muzak version of Elvis Presley’s ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight’, the Sheffield band launched into ‘Do I Wanna Know’ with a thudding drumbeat and a stage bathed in yellow light. As the song kicked in, a red flare fired high into the sky from the crowd, and another burned in the moshpit.
‘Brianstorm’ saw Alex Turner and guitarist Jamie Cook striking rock star poses, Turner at one point throwing both hands in the air. ‘Dancing Shoes’ followed, preceded by a snippet of the distinctive riff from Black Keys’ ‘Money Maker’.
The main section of the performance was brought to a close with ‘505’, which was introduced by Turner saying: “We’ll leave you with a love song because we love you. Thank you for having us”.
But let’s take it back to the beginning. Former My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way opened Reading on Friday with his debut festival solo show. The set, which followed a warm-up gig in Portsmouth earlier this week, saw the singer showcase eight tracks from his forthcoming debut album ‘Hesitant Alien’.
Kicking off his Britpop-indebted set with ‘Bureau’, he went on to perform recent single ‘Action Cat’ and ‘Zero Zero’. Greeting fans for the first time since his former band headlined the Reading and Leeds Festivals in 2011, Way said: “It is amazing to be back here. There are so many of you here. I fucking love you.”
Over in Leeds, The Wytches took to the stage. Screaming through a curtain of hair, singer Kristian Bell led Brighton three-piece The Wytches through the more hardcore chunks of their debut album ‘Annabel Dream Reader’.
Toronto punk poppers PUP, an acronym for Pathetic Use of Potential, provided one of the most energised sets of Friday in the Lock-Up Tent, setting off one of the first major circle-pits of Leeds 2014.
Darlia frontman Nathan Day smashed his guitar at the end of the Blackpool band’s afternoon set on the Festival Republic stage in Reading. Walking on stage to fans chanting the band’s name, the three-piece stormed through their six-song show, with the audience chanting “Darlia” after every song.
Drenge took to the stage in Reading in dresses, presumably a homage, after previous act Blood Red Shoes dedicated their album to them. Highlights of their raucous set included ‘Bloodsports’ and ‘Fuckabout’.
Fat White Family’s sets in both Reading and Leeds set off a predictably large amount of chaotic stage dives.
Fat White Family frontman Lias Saoudi physically shaked as he screamed through ‘Cream Of The Young’ and swung his arms and microphone lead above his head during ‘Touch The Leather.’
Danny Brown played some of the hypest sets of both Reading & Leeds whipping the crowd into a frenzy with tracks from 2013 album ‘Old’. Watch a filmed interview about the Detroit rapper’s influences on NME Video.
Post-punk returned over a decade later as Blink-182 headlined on the main stage, playing a sets filled with hits, a flame wall that spelt out ‘Fuck’ and toilet humour.
North London quartet Wolf Alice made their Reading Festival debut dressed in matching white outfits. The set mixed tracks from their recent ‘Creature Songs’ EP and last year’s ‘Blush’ EP with unreleased tracks ‘Lighters’ and ‘The Jam’.They also covered Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’, segueing it into ‘Blush’.
Vic Mensa opened his high energy set in the BBC Radio 1Xtra tent with a song that sampled Disclosure’s ‘Fire Starts To Burn’, bouncing onto the stage like a hyperactive tigger. Wearing a bandana around his peroxide-tipped hair and a tight leather jacket he jumped into the crowd for ‘Cocoa Butter Kisses’, the track from friend and collaborator Chance The Rapper’s mixtape ‘Acid Rap’.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ Main Stage set began with a fanfare – literally. The rap duo’s brass section trumpeted their arrival. Their global hit ‘Thrift Shop’, came early in the set. After, the crowd chanted ‘You what, you what – Leeds’ at the rapper, who looked puzzled. “I’ve got to be honest, I haven’t a clue what you’re all saying,” he said.
Jamie T played a secret surprise set at Reading on Friday. “It’s nice to be back. I’ve been away for a really long time so it’s nice to be here,” he said.
Paramore headlined the festival for the first time, performing a set in which singer Hayley Williams praised co-headliners Queens Of The Stone Age and brought her younger sister on stage.
Chicago indie-punks The Orwells came on-stage for their mid-afternoon set on the Festival Republic stage in Reading to a chant of “USA USA” from singer Mario Cuomo.
The band, who supported the Arctic Monkeys on a 2013 American tour, played ‘In My Bed’, during which Cuomo finished a can of Foster’s, crushed it and threw it into the crowd. He then staggered backwards, tripped over drummer Grant Brinner’s riser and fell over.
Gogol Bordello brought their Rick Rubin-produced album ‘Trans-Continental Hustle’ to Reading with an energetic performance from Ukranian front man Eugene Hütz,
Wrapping up their 2013 tour for the album ‘Vampires Of The City’, Vampire Weekend performed five tracks off the record including singles ‘Diane Young’ and ‘Unbelievers’. At their set in Leeds they played ‘Contra’-era track ‘California English’ for the very first time.
Queens Of The Stone Age brought a hit-packed set to the Main Stage in Reading – as well as plenty of lasers. Josh Homme’s band kicked off their set with ‘You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire’ from their 2002 album ‘Songs For The Deaf’ before veering into fan favourite and hit single ‘No One Knows’ from the same LP.
Wrapping up their set with ‘A Song For The Dead’ Homme signed off by saying: “Reading thank you so much. I’m saying goodbye and fucking goodnight. Have a great weekend. We hope you get shit faced and end up fucking sleeping in a ditch.”
Wearing a steely glare for much of her Leeds set, Brody Dalle said little to the crowd for the first 20 minutes. The latter half of the set saw the singer’s frosty demeanour thaw; she dedicated Distillers track ‘Die On A Rope’ to the crowd: “You guys are better than Reading, by the way. Way better.”
Palma Violets drew a capacity audience, with the band playing tracks from debut album ‘180’ alongside three new songs. During their set they paid tribute to Jamie T, who in his set earlier in the evening had said done the same for them. The band ended the gig by jumping into the crowd to huge cheers from fans.
Irish folk duo Hudson Taylor brought the crowd to a rousing singalong.
SLAVES at Leeds after one of the most exciting sets of the weekend. The Kent boys played a song 10-second called ‘Girl Fight’ which the NME team were singing well after their performance had finished.
Darlia brought the tent down at Leeds with renditions of ‘Queen Of Hearts’, ‘Napalm’ and ‘Candyman’ proving to be highlights.
With a set split evenly between his 2012 self-titled debut and 2013’s ‘Shangri La’, Jake Bugg kicked off with ‘There’s A Beast And We All Feed It’, followed quickly by ‘Troubled Town’, ‘I’ve Seen It All,’ and ‘Me And You’. After ‘Broken’, which he performed accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, he said: “Thanks very much, that was amazing. That’s made my night that has.”
SLAVES perform at Leeds festival. One to watch, for sure.
Pulled Apart By Horses paid tribute to “seven-foot ginger sexy bastard” Josh Homme while previewing songs from upcoming third album ‘Blood’ during their Main Stage performance at Reading. But the band cancelled their Leeds Festival appearance at the very last minute because bassist Rob Lee collapsed backstage.
South Africa’s Die Antwoord brought their ‘freeky’ rap rave to Reading & Leeds to a crowd going bananas. Before the band’s Leeds set Ninja posted an selfie Instagram video of him riding high on one of the spinning fairground rides.
The Amazing Snakeheads played one of their first live shows since announcing a change in personnel with frontman Dale Barclay the only remaining member from the line-up that released the band’s debut album in April.
Circa Waves briefly had to pause their Reading gig as security told them to finish early due to time constraints. After a brief discussion, they managed to convince the festival staff to let them return, playing a frenetic version of ‘Stuck In My Teeth’ to the audience. That’s democracy, that is.
Those Bombay Bicycle Club lads having a laff backstage.
Metronomy brought a slice of south-coast sunshine to a wet evening at Leeds as they played second from the top on the NME/BBC Radio 1 stage.
The Klaxons saw Jamie Reynolds thanking “every single one of you” for coming, before they played recent single ‘There Is No Other Time’, which Reynolds dedicated to his father. A singalong of early hit ‘Golden Skans’ followed, before the band continued with ‘Show Me A Miracle’ and ‘Invisible Forces’ from current album ‘Love Frequency’.
Arctic Monkeys headlined Reading on the Saturday night hailing a “fucking good crowd”. “I like you Reading,” he purred towards the end of the set. Judging from the surge in the crowd, they like him, too.
Palma Violets’ Chilli Jesson showed he’s well on the way to becoming a top dollar frontman.
Before that, the Lambeth quartet had drawn a sizeable crowd to the tent, benefiting from their slot coming between Queens of the Stone Age and Paramore on the main stage.
Opening with new Libertines-indebted song ‘Secrets of America’ – one of three new tracks played tonight, the others being ‘Matador’ and ‘I Got Hollywood In My Bones’ – the band’s performance was an inevitably riotous affair, with bassist Chilli Jesson on particularly good form, declaring the crowd to be “better than Reading!” before ‘All The Cool Cats’.
South London’s Childhood put in a meandering set at the Festival Republic tent, their sound mixing elements of shoegaze, The Smiths and Echo & The Bunnymen. Opening with the airy pop of ‘Blue Velvet’, the band drew a decent crowd with a set that included ‘As I Am’, after which singer Ben Romans-Hopcraft thanked the crowd for coming out since “your hangover must be setting in now”.
Brookyn duo Lucius brought their lush pop to the UK.
Palma Violets closed the Festival Republic Stage in Leeds with a guest appearance from Childhood frontman Ben Romans-Hopcraft, who unexpectedly jumped on stage to join the band on ‘We Found Love’, contributing backing vocals and throwing beer over the crowd.
Wearing his usual dark sunglasses, Eagulls singer George Mitchell, led his band onstage for their afternoon slot on The Lock Up Stage. The punk five-piece, who formed in Leeds, opened with ‘Tough Luck’ and then played ‘Nerve Endings’, a single from their self-titled debut album.
A guest arrived on stage during Paramore’s set closer ‘Ain’t It Fun’, in the shape of Williams’ sister Erica. Speaking about her sister earlier in the set, Hayley said: “Today has been a great day. I got to meet an idol – Brody Dalle and watch Jimmy Eat World with my sister, who has come to England for the first time.”
As an LED screen flashed the name ‘Paramore’ behind the band in bright white light, they put the emphasis on stagecraft – bassist Jeremy Davis jumped over guitarist Taylor York as they played ‘Pressure’.
NME favourites Wolf Alice hang out backstage.
“This is our second Reading Festival and it’s great to see you all,” singer Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches told the crowd. “It’s great to see actual humans…It’s incredible being on the same line-up and Arctic Monkeys and Queens Of The Stone Age. We’re always like, ‘Is this a typo?”
Jungle kicked off with single ‘The Heat’ and ‘Lucky I Got What I Want’. With McFarland remarking that there’s “a lot of you out there”, the band continued with tracks from their self-titled debut including ‘Julia’ and a well-received ‘Time’. Dressed all in black and grey, they then brought out ‘Busy Earnin’ which earned the biggest reaction from the crowd before concluding with ‘Platoon’.
The Hives’ set consisted of songs from their five albums, including ‘Walk Idiot Walk’, ‘See Through Head’, ‘Main Offender’, and an extended ‘Tick Tick Boom’. Their biggest hit ‘Hate To Say I Told You So’ closed the set, with Almqvist telling the audience: “I think you’ll come to realise that the last 15 minutes of our set was the best 15 minutes of the whole festival.”
After playing ‘Lost On Me’, Peace’s singer Harrison Koisser said: “It means a lot to see so many of you here. It’s beautiful.” The band then launched into ‘Float Forever’ from their 2013 debut album ‘In Love’. ‘World Pleasure’ followed before Peace wrapped things up with ‘Bloodshake’.
Baby Godzilla brought their ‘breakneck speed metal that’s worth 19 bucks’ to the festival.