The ‘leaked’ line-up was real and opinion is divided but ticket sales don’t lie...or do they?
This year’s Leeds Festival line-up has got me struck with a case of déja vu – there’s a lot of familiar faces.
It’s like 2002 all over again with a hefty dose of 2007 and a bit of 2004 and 2006 added on for comfort.
Headliners My Chemical Romance, Pulp, The Strokes and Muse have all headlined or played the main stage before while multiple bands high up the billing will roll up to the north’s biggest party for the second or third time in less than a decade.
It would be quicker to mention bands that haven’t played before as that would be fewer than five but those that have rocked Leeds in recent memory include Jimmy Eat World, The Offspring, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Deftones, Janes Addiction, Noah and the Whale, Friendly Fires, The View and Enter Shikari...you get the picture.
Just four years ago, no less than 13 of the bands announced last Monday, played.
What happened to new music?
Of course there are still dozens of lower billed bands yet to be announced but I guess the organisers decided to play it safe this year.
But has the strategy backfired?
As I write this, almost 72 hours after Monday’s festival announcement, tickets are still freely available.
In previous years they would have been sold out by now.
In 2006, a year that featured Muse and My Chemical Romance, tickets sold out in under two hours.
Is this a symptom of the recycled line-up or due to the impact of the recession?
Or are people growing tired of massive corporate festivals and moving on to smaller, lower key ones?
There could be other factors at work here also. Leeds Festival has been cursed by ticket touts for many years who may have previously bulk bought tickets en masse?
Perhaps the margins in touting are not so attractive these days?
I suspect a combination of the above are all to blame but as British Summer Time starts this weekend I for one welcome the prospect of seeing Muse light-up the West Yorkshire sky with a blinding laser show. The Devon prog-rockers aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but there’s no doubting that frontman Matt Bellamy is up there as one of the most talented singers and guitar players of all time. Manchester’s Elbow, making it to the number two slot for the opening day, is testimony to their steadily growing support and their 2008 Mercury Music Prize win while American indie export Interpol are also apparently massive now after years of simmering under the surface of popularity. Two other bands that stick out are The Streets and Death From Above 1979, who are reforming after five years apart ... ‘hold on, hold on, children, your mother, father are leaving’.
If you’re into mainstream punk and metal and can’t afford a weekend ticket Saturday is the day for you. Love ‘em or loathe ‘em My Chemical Romance are a big coup for festival bosses and having just filled arenas around the country the pressure will be on for not only a slick gig but also a blinding visual performance. Thirty Seconds To Mars have also just completed a UK arena tour and with no doubt a similar fanbase to the Chems. The surprise of Saturday has got to be US punk veterans Offspring who haven’t been seen for a while after their bid to match the resurgence of Green Day failed. They’ve got a new album due this year, presumably before festival season, so they could well be the sound of the summer...who knows? I’m a little surprised to see Deftones back for a mid-level mainstage slot as their 2009 performance in virtually the same position was almost completely ignored. Here’s hoping their 2010 album Diamond Eyes has ensnared some new fans. It’s good to see Sheffield’s metalcore stars Bring Me The Horizon make it to the big time – that should be one ferocious mosh pit.
And so, the closing day...are you more excited about The Strokes or Pulp?
Ten years ago the former were supposed to take over the world. It didn’t quite happen and after a massive start they lost a bit of momentum. With a new album imminent this could be the start of the second wave. Pulp is a bit out of the blue, maybe Jarvis thinks he can cheer up a nation collectively depressed by the age of austerity? It seems to be the way to make a comeback these days but some late 90s Britpop optimism is welcome I’m sure ... Do you remember the first time? If Common People doesn’t get you jumping then surely Madness will have you bouncing to their 80s ska pop tunes? How can anyone be grumpy jogging on the spot to a bit of Baggy Trousers or One Step Beyond?
So while there’s no prizes for originality I’m looking forward to a bit of nostalgia this year ... I must be getting old.