Here we go. After a year off, Reading & Leeds festival returns. We’ve got Biffy Clyro, Liam Gallagher, Stormzy, Disclosure, Post Malone and Catfish & The Bottlemen all topping the bill, with huge sets also coming from Wolf Alice, Mabel, KSI, Sigrid, Girl In Red, Baebadoobee and loads more.
What better way to get ready for history to be made once again than by delving into the lineups of yesteryear in this collection of Reading & Leeds posters from 1989 to current day.
The very first Reading Festival had a line-up featuring some classic bands like New Order and The Pogues, and others who haven’t stood the test of time (Les Negresse Vertes, anyone?).
In 1990, you could have spent your August bank holiday weekend watching The Cramps, Inspiral Carpets and Pixies headline.
Iggy Pop, James and The Sisters Of Mercy topped the bill in 1991, with Sonic Youth, Carter USM, Nirvana, and Blur all appearing earlier in the day.
’92 saw Nirvana make the leap up to headliners, where they made their classic Reading appearance. You know the one – it’s when Kurt made his entrance on stage in a wheelchair.
New Order returned to headline in 1993, alongside The The and Porno For Pyros.
In 1994, perennial headliners Red Hot Chili Peppers made their first appearance at the top of the bill, closing out the Sunday night.
How’s this for a classic line-up? On the Friday of 1995’s edition, you could see Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day and Hole all in a row.
Months after John Squire left The Stone Roses, the Manchester band headlined Reading. The performance drew criticism across the board and the group split two months later.
Suede and Manic Street Preachers kept the Britpop flag flying in ’97, joined by third headliners Metallica.
1998 was a solid year, with legends like Jimmy Page and Robert Plant headlining, plus huge stars like Beastie Boys, The Prodigy, Foo Fighters and Garbage also on the bill.
Red Hot Chili Peppers made their second headlining turn in 1999, which was also the year the festival expanded to Leeds. Blur also headlined, while Elastica brought their second album to the Radio 1 Evening Session Stage.
The Gallagher brothers made their way to the top of the line-up at R&L for the very first time at the turn of the millennium.
Eminem will have headlined the festivals three times after this August. He made his first appearance in 2001.
The Strokes headlined the twin festivals after the release of their debut album ‘Is This It’ the year before. Their Reading set fell on frontman Julian Casablancas’ birthday and the rest of the group presented him with a birthday cake on stage.
Jay Z made his Reading & Leeds debut, nestled into the line-up between Staind and Placebo. Future collaborators Linkin Park headlined on the same day.
2004’s festivals will be memorable for 50 Cent. This was the year he was bottled off stage, with festival-goers in front of the main stage lobbing anything they could find in his direction.
So many future headliners on this line-up, including The Killers, QOTSA, Kasabian, Razorlight, Kings Of Leon, Arcade Fire, Biffy Clyro and, right down on the Carling Stage, a little known group called Arctic Monkeys.
From the Carling stage to the main stage. Arctic Monkeys shot up the bill to penultimate act of the day, providing main support for Muse.
New rave was in full flow in 2007 and Klaxons celebrated that with a NME/Radio 1 tent headlining set that was full of neon, glowsticks and fun.
Have you ever seen anything more 2008 than a festival bill that includes Babyshambles, The Wombats, Vampire Weekend, MGMT and Jack Penate all next to each other?
Four years after making their first appearance at the twin festivals, Sheffield’s finest stepped up to headline.
The Libertines made their first appearance at Reading since reuniting. Poor Arcade Fire were left playing to a half-empty field afterwards.
The Strokes and Pulp co-headlined in 2011, alongside My Chemical Romance and Muse.
Kasabian first made the step-up to headliners in 2012, a year after the release of their fourth album ‘Velociraptor!’.
BIffy Clyro triumphed in 2013 when they headlined for the first time. Eminem fared less well, with fans accusing him of miming.
Wolf Alice, listed right at the bottom of the poster, made their debut at Reading & Leeds in 2014. They’re one of the big tips to headline the events in the near future.
2015 saw the return of The Libertines, while Mumford & Sons and Metallica also topped the bill.
There were a ton of co-headlines in 2016, with Foals, Disclosure, Biffy Clyro and Fall Out Boy all taking turns to close out their respective days. Red Hot Chili Peppers were the only band to headline on their own.
Kasabian, Eminem and Muse all headlined last year, while fans were also able to see Bastille, Two Door Cinema Club, Major Lazer, Haim, Giggs and more.
Kung-Fu Kenny, Fall Out Boy, Travis Scott, Kings Of Leon, Courteeners, Wolf Alice and the world’s greatest boyband, Brockhampton, all rocked a spectacular weekend.
What a weekend that was. Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters returned to headline for the second time in six years, while The 1975, Post Malone and Twenty One Pilots all got their first go at headlining the festival.
Ah, the one that didn’t happen. If COVID hadn’t come along and cancelled all the fun, then 2020 would have seen the return of the mighty Rage Against The Machine, along with Liam Gallagher and Stormzy stepping up to headline for the first time.
For the first time, Reading & Leeds will see two main stages and six headliners – so get ready for Liam Gallagher, Biffy Clyro, Disclosure, Post Malone, Catfish & The Bottlemen and Stormzy all topping the bill, along with huge sets from Wolf Alice, Sam Fender, Girl In Red, AJ Tracey, Mabel and more.
Reading & Leeds takes place this weekend from August 27-29. Visit here for NME’s latest coverage from the festival.