The 20 Best Bands At Reading And Leeds 2015 In Order Of Greatness – Voted For By NME Readers

We asked who stole the show, and you answered. Here’s how NME readers voted when we gave them 20 amazing acts from this year’s Reading and Leeds Festival and tasked them with voting for the greatest…

20. Charli XCX

20. Charli XCX: Charli XCX pulled out of an extensive US tour with Bleachers just over a week ago citing “a need to be creative.” Since the release of second album ‘Sucker’ in December last year she’s had a heavy schedule, but this sugar-pop set dispelled all suggestions of a burnout, with Charli jumping around with giant inflatable guitars, delivering infectious dance banger and banger.

19. Deadmau5

19. Deadmau5

19. Deadmau5: The masked EDM man Deadmau5 closed the NME/BBC Radio One stage at Leeds on Friday night with a thrilling live extravaganza of lights and music. And he was later joined onstage – as at Glastonbury – by a man wearing a shark costume, who some reported was Orlando Bloom. Maybe that’s what he does now.

18. Azealia Banks

18. Azealia Banks

18. Azealia Banks: She couldn’t make it to Glastonbury, but Azealia Banks made sure she was at Reading and Leeds – which, incidentally, took place on the same weekend as the VMAs that snubbed her this year. Bringing an eclectic blend of genres to the table, she showed she doesn’t need awards to prove a point – her music, including inimitable closer ‘212’, does that all by itself.


17. Bastille

17. Bastille: The undeniably massive Bastille have reportedly been working with David Lynch, Haim and French DJ Madeon, and they offered a tantalising taste of what’s next for them this weekend. ‘Blame’ showed Black Keys and Mumford & Sons influences, while ‘Hangin’’ recalled the reggae hints of The Libertines’ ‘Gunga Din’.

16. Run The Jewels

16. Run The Jewels: Run The Jewels took to the stage to the aptly chosen ‘We Are The Champions’ by Queen. Killer Mike thanked NME for having them on the NME/BBC Radio 1 stage, before saying “If you’ve got prescription glasses or a prescription phone, put them in your pocket, because shit’s about to get fucked up.” He spoke the truth.

15. Bring Me The Horizon

15. Bring Me The Horizon: Just prior to releasing their new album ‘That’s The Spirit’, Bring Me The Horizon staked their claim for promotion to headliner status at Reading in their set warming up for Metallica. Peppering the setlist with new material, they stirred up a mosh pit and high-fived the crowdsurfers who sailed over the front barrier.

14. Alt-J

14. Alt-J: Paying tribute to “the city where it all began”, Alt-J warmed up the Main Stage’s Leeds crowd for Mumford & Sons. Their set, which was accompanied by a dazzling light show, proved that following their headline slot at Latitude, they have what it takes to be future Reading & Leeds headliners.


13. Kendrick Lamar

13. Kendrick Lamar: None of us were expecting Kendrick to compare Reading to Compton. But he wasn’t talking about the city – he was talking about the spirit of the crowd. Raising their lighters in the air, they gave him the welcome he was due – so after his smash closer ‘King Kunta’ he rewarded them with an encore, ‘ADHD’, from his 2011 tape ‘Section .80’

12. Metallica

12. Metallica: No one was complaining about a lack of spectacle when headliners Metallica opened their set, their towering flames backed by ‘Fuel’. The sensory experience continued throughout the 18-song set, with fireworks, gunfire, lasers and a host of black balloons released at the end of the show. It was a huge return after 7 years away from the festival.

11. Mumford & Sons

11. Mumford & Sons

11. Mumford & Sons: Marcus Mumford had his shirt ripped open by fans at the end of the Sons’ 90-minute Leeds set on the Main Stage, which showcased the heavier sound of latest album ‘Wilder Mind’. “Who’s up for a fucking party?” he demanded of the Leeds crowd, and towards the end of the set revealed the festival had given the band “a new-found love for the UK”. Good work, guys.

10. Wolf Alice

10. Wolf Alice: A year after they played the Festival Republic stage, Wolf Alice returned to Reading and Leeds via the NME/BBC Radio One stage with a set that showed off the band’s growth in confidence and clout. Ellie Rowsell looked completely in her element, doing windmills with her hair, screaming into the mic and closing it all by running along the barrier hugging her adoring fans.


9. Royal Blood

9. Royal Blood: “There are a lot of people,” said frontman Mike Kerr at the start of Royal Blood’s set. “I’m gonna shit myself.” The rock duo played one new song – ‘Hook, Line and Sinker’ – during their 5.45pm set, and it became an infectious singalong. Coupling that with versions of their older songs that were muscular even for them, they knocked their set out the park.

8. Slaves

8. Slaves

8. Slaves: At the punk duo’s Reading set, Isaac Holman revealed that his bandmate Laurie Vincent’s goldfish, Gerald, had died that day. They played ‘Live Like An Animal’ in his honour, and the crowd chanted ‘Gerald, Gerald’ accordingly. “He died five years too young,” said Vincent. It was a beautiful tribute. RIP, Gerald.

7. The Libertines

7. The Libertines: Taking to the stage backed by Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’, the recently reformed group weaved their way through older material, interspersed with a handful of new songs including ‘Gunga Din’ and ‘Anthems For Doomed Youth’. Pete lifted drummer Gary Powell onto his shoulders at the end of the set, before the four embraced in a triumphant group hug.

6. Catfish and the Bottlemen:

6. Catfish and the Bottlemen:

6. Catfish and the Bottlemen: Catfish played their way through much of the material on their debut album, ‘The Balcony’, to huge crowd singalongs. They’d almost packed out the tent, and when they finished with the extended, heavy outro of ‘Tyrants’, it was the perfect end to their epic festival season.

5. Jamie T

5. Jamie T: The final show of the gigging year for Jamie T was one of the best of the festival. After making the announcement that he wouldn’t be playing again in 2015 – and commenting on the blow-up penis in the crowd – he said, “It means the world for all of you to come out and see me play.” He closed with a frantic version of recent hit ‘Zombie’.

4. Peace

4. Peace: Quip of the weekend went to Harry Koisser who, after informing the crowd that his coat was covered in wet enamel declared, “you’re literally watching paint dry.” Their performance was anything but dull – having just done a secret set on the BBC Introducing stage, the band aced their slot at the NME/BBC Radio One stage, mixing a cover of Binary Finary into their string of hits.

3. Foals

3. Foals: The band’s secret afternoon set on the NME/Radio One Stage took down the naysayers with one sledgehammer half-hour assault. Filling the tent to bursting, Yannis and co delivered a flawless set of hit after hit to a crowd of rabid fans, culminating in the destructive, crowd-surfing blitzkrieg of ‘What Went Down’. 2016 headliners? Foals have probably got the gig if they want it.

2. Jamie xx

2. Jamie xx: A euphoric dance love in: Jamie xx’s Reading slot proved his new album ‘In Colour’ loses none of its good vibes in translation from record to stage. A sped-up rendition of ‘I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)’ got the crowd going – before the brilliant closer ‘Loud Places’ sent the place truly haywire.

1. The Maccabees

1. The Maccabees: Maccabees frontman Orlando Weeks opened the set thanking fans for helping them achieve their recent Number One with ‘Marks To Prove It’. The crowd went wild for the new album’s title track, but it was older material that elicited the biggest cheers from the crowd, with ‘Can You Give It’ and ‘Latchmere’ both energising an audience basking in the mid-afternoon sun.