The 10 essential Reading & Leeds 2019 sets to catch on BBC iPlayer before they disappear

Got the post-festival sads? Spend your weekend re-visiting these R&L highlights

Feeling rested after this year’s Reading & Leeds yet? Whether you’re still firmly in the ‘post-festival sads’ camp, or rested, washed and raring to go for 2020’s festival season, there are plenty of ways to get your fix.

If you’re wanting to relive the outstanding sets that made the weekend, the BBC have given us a lifeline, with a host of full sets available to watch on the iPlayer.

From a headline set by The 1975 to weekend-defining sets by Billie Eilish, AJ Tracey and more, it’s all here.


So then, without further ado, dig in and dream of next August…

The 1975

What happened: Matty Healy and co had been building up to this – their first major festival headline slots – for a fair while now, and it was more than worth the wait. As NME wrote in a review of the set, the show was “a politically-charged and empowering triumph for Britain’s biggest band”. These are the kind of headliners we need, and it’s certain that The 1975 will be perched on the top end of festival lineups for many a year to come. Reading & Leeds confirmed that.

Most rewatchable moment: An honourable mention here goes to the band opening the set with the live debut of new single ‘People’, but it was a speech that Matty gave before playing ‘Loving Someone’ that really sticks. Referencing the band’s recent gig in Dubai, where he kissed a boy on stage, it was – and remains – a brilliant, important takedown of lingering homophobia.

Billie Eilish

What happened: After being upgraded from the Radio 1 tent to the Main Stage, Billie then drew what is being reported as the biggest ever crowd to Reading Festival on the Saturday afternoon, showing that the decision to upgrade her was more than wise. More than anyone across the whole weekend, it was clear that she’s a future headliner, and you wouldn’t bet against her being back to top the bill as early as 2020.

Most rewatchable moment: Watching the crowd all crouch down before exploding upwards and going absolutely bananas at the drop of ‘Copycat’. We could watch it all day long.



What happened: Britain’s next festival headliner made his claim to greatness, headlining the Radio 1 tent. With a Mercury nomination and a Number One in the bag for his debut album ‘Psychodrama’ in the bag, this summer has reaffirmed that Dave is on his way to being a seriously big deal, and come album two he could well be a headliner.

Most rewatchable moment: Following the now-infamous Alex From Glasto moment back in June, Dave repeated the trick at Reading, bringing young fan Jamz on stage to perform ‘Thiago Silva’. He duly smashed it.

Charli XCX

What happened: With her new album ‘Charli’ fast approaching, the singer took to the Main Stage on Friday and made the most of the fanatic, fresh crowd in front of her. It also helps that she has the likes of ‘Boys’, ‘I Love It’ and ‘Boom Clap’ in her locker. As NME wrote in a review of the set: “Charli isn’t intimidated by the huge stage, which she occupies alone. Instead she charms, belts out note-perfect vocals and displays some impressive dancing. By the time she finishes her break-neck set with ‘Boom Clap’ ,she’s delighted the fans and won the respect of those who were just hear to appease their mates.”

Most rewatchable moment: The moment mid-set where Charli burst into a cover of Spice Girls classic ‘Wannabe’. In the blink of an eye, the Main Stage at Reading was turned into a ’90s disco and it was wonderful.

AJ Tracey 

What happened: Showing his prowess as a rapper capable of simply massive things, AJ Tracey gave one of the best performances the Main Stage at Reading and Leeds saw all weekend. “Finally, it feels like people are taking British rap more seriously as a genre,” Tracey told NME backstage at the festival, and this set showed that Reading and Leeds is becoming a breeding ground for them to show their potential.

Most rewatchable moment: A performance of ‘Ladbroke Grove’ that saw the crowd go positively bananas, providing one of the ‘moments’ of the weekend.


What happened: A TV producer’s worst nightmare, slowthai’s 3pm set at Reading was a deliciously sweary affair, with his between-song profanities broken up by gritty punk-influenced rap songs that prove that he’s quickly becoming the icon of a new generation. It was his biggest moment yet.

Most rewatchable moment: The simply staggering amount of moshpits that opened up as he smashed through highlight ‘Doorman’.

Twenty One Pilots

What happened: A LOT. As NME‘s review of the set said, “sometimes you see something that feels special and you’ll remember for years to come. This is what Twenty One Pilots’ co-headline performance on the Saturday night at Reading is like. The show feels like something special. Featuring dancing security guards, burning cars and Josh Dun’s trademark backflip, it’s a madly brilliant and theatrical show.”

Most rewatchable moment: When the security guards at the front of the stage moonlighted as backing dancers in a thoroughly entertaining rendition of ‘My Blood’.

Stefflon Don

What happened: Continuing a summer, the rapper brought fierce bars and unadulterated fun in equal measure to her set on the Radio 1 Stage at the weekend. Another artist that stands as proof of Reading and Leeds’ growing clout at becoming a vitally important pair of festivals for the UK rap scene, it felt like a real moment.

Most rewatchable moment: ‘Boasty’ got the crowd going like few other songs played across the weekend. It’s becoming her calling card.

Royal Blood

What happened: The Brighton pair creeped further up the line-up at their spiritual home, confirming that they have what it takes to make that final step and headline the whole thing. They’ve become the band for a new generation of rock fans, and the response to their comeback was rapturous.

Most rewatchable moment: The band played a deliciously filthy new song ‘Boilermaker’, showing that things certainly won’t be calmed down whatsoever on their in-progress third album.

The Distillers

What happened: Brody Dalle and co played their first gigs on UK soil since they were last at Reading & Leeds in 2014. Inside 45 minutes, they showed everyone just what they’d been missing, and were greeted like returning heroes.

Most rewatchable moment: It was moshpit-mageddon as the band raged through ‘Drain The Blood’; it was a gloriously sweaty mess.

See all of NME‘s Reading and Leeds coverage here.