Live At Leeds 2018: The best bands we saw at the sweltering one-dayer

Despite the baking sun in Leeds, the city’s wonderful music fans packed out venues to see some of the nation’s best new talents and we were in the thick of it too. Here’s the best things NME saw over the momentous day.


Not content with playing the buzziest and sweatiest show of the festival, Bristol’s IDLES also turned in one of the most bizarre – covering Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’, and inviting a Sainsbury’s employee on stage in uniform to shout “Fuck tescos” for over a minute. ‘Brutalism’ cuts went down a storm with the energetic crowd, and hints of what to come on album two were more than enticing. Britain must treasure this band, because they’re likely to be one of the best we’ve got sooner rather than later.

Pom Poko


Math-rock, disco, art-pop; you name it, Pom Poko can do it. The Norwegian act wilfully dabble between genres, but Saturday’s showing at Leeds Beckett proved that the band have another level with a slate of pounding new material. It sounds so dangerous and urgent, that when the fire alarm went off half-way through – we all assumed that the red siren was a part of the song. It sounded great, btw.

Lily Moore

Sipping a cup of tea between each song and smiling throughout, Moore’s performance at The Wardrobe showcased an artist completely at ease. With conversational lyrics and an affable personality, it felt like we were sat in the front room having a heart-to-heart. Aren’t we bloody lucky. (VJ)

Stereo Honey

Creating an anthemic and angelic collection of sounds in the Church, this show racks up as one of the most divine on their CV so far. Performing songs from their debut EP ‘Monuments’, Stereo Honey mark the start of the next generation of ominous pop music. (VJ)


The Camden-native’s show at the NME stage at Headrow House on Saturday was a lesson in efficiency. In a set that barely breached the 15-minute mark, Bakar proved to be an electrifying performer, turned ‘Million Miles’ into a punk-rager and cemented himself as one of Britain’s most exciting new acts. Not bad.

Boy Azooga

With debut album ‘1, 2 Kung Fu’ out next month, Cardiff’s’ Boy Azooga brought their brand William Onyeabor-influenced funk-rock to the Brudenell in dazzling fashion. ‘Face Behind Your Cigarette’ ought to be flying high in the charts, but it’s the harder edges of rock songs like ‘Loner Boogie’ that offer up this monstrous and darker side to this cheery bunch – one that we’re looking forward to getting to know a little better.



Giving a celebratory “cheers to freedom” as she celebrates her first trip to England without her parents – Naaz always makes a point to be incredibly open about the difficult journey she conquered to be able to perform music. Her set at NME’s Stage at Headrow House was an exercise in liberating pop music, one that lingers and excites in all the right ways. We’ll drink to that. (VJ)

Pale Waves

It’s been just over a year since the Manchester group dropped their debut single ‘There’s A Honey’ but Pale Waves looked like a bunch of seasoned vets as they headlined the Brudenell Social Club. Lead singer Heather Baron-Gracie is a performer you can’t take your eyes off, and a handful of new songs – including ‘The Kiss’ – showcase a band ready to make the leap into the big time.

Words by Thomas Smith and Vidisha Jain