Dare we say that things are on the up?
Are we finally on our way out of this cataclysmic shit storm of the past 18 months? Apprehension is always warranted, but some rays of genuine positivity are beginning to shine through.
Confusing graphs and fumbling spokespeople on the telly are becoming a little less frequent, and you could say that there are a bit more things to smile about. Things like the allowance of large gatherings, and the reopening of treasured venues across the nation. Many people within the events industry have returned to the work that they love, and the annual highlight for millions across the country – the music festival – is back.
While, sadly, some of our favourite festivals have not been able to go ahead this year amidst restrictions and logistical issues, one of the UK’s most popular weekends has had the green light to go ahead.
Reading & Leeds Festival will take place from Thursday the 26th August until Monday the 30th August 2021.
The very first Leeds Festival was introduced in 1999 as an addition to Reading (which has been running under various names since 1955!) and has adapted over time to suit an increasingly genre-diverse audience. The 75,000 capacity site and numerous stages means that they now cater to lovers of indie, rock, rap, chart and dance music. So if you have a ticket to the sold out Leeds 2021, there’s plenty to go at.
Below is a run down of each stage and some of the highlights to look forward to. (Set times TBA)
You can expect to see some of the biggest artists in the world on the Leeds mainstage. To headline is one of the most prestigious slots on the UK festival circuit. Naturally, you can expect it to get seriously busy throughout the day and into the evening, so it’s worth getting there early and giving plenty of time to catch your favourite acts.
Liam Gallagher (Headliner) – Friday 27th August
In one of his first shows back since the ‘Why Me, Why Not?’ arena tour in February of 2020, Liam Gallagher returns to the centre of attention at Leeds Festival. He took to Twitter to invite setlist suggestions that will no doubt be riddled with past hits alongside more recent releases.
Wolf Alice – Friday 27th August
With new album ‘Blue Weekend’ being released to industry-wide acclaim earlier this year, this will be one of the first chances for fans to see Wolf Alice’s new songs in performance.
They told Sky News that in the wake of the pandemic they want to “go and play one hundred million gigs” which is good news for anyone who might have missed out on a ticket for Leeds.
Tom Grennan – Friday 27th August
Catch one very recognisable voice in UK music on Friday. His rise from a promising soul singer into a UK Pop sensation has seen him become a darling of radio playlisters. He’s crossed the gulf between Radio X and Capital FM, to find his way onto both which has increased his number of fans to no end. Leeds mainstage is yet another tick for his career.
Stormzy (Headliner) – Saturday 28th August
Two time Brit Award winner, Stormzy has been a leading voice through his actions both on and off stage over the years. Through his two gold certified albums and Pyramid Stage headline performance at Glastonbury, he put Grime on a national pedestal. Now it’s time for Leeds Festival to play host.
Further Mainstage Highlights
Declan McKenna – Saturday 28th August
Easy Life – Sunday 29th August
Two Door Cinema Club – Sunday 29th August
To make up for last year’s cancellation, Leeds have introduced the Mainstage West as an extension of the Mainstage in order to fit even more acts onto the bill.
Sam Fender – Saturday 28th August
With his vocal talent alone, it would be easy for Sam Fender to play up to industry standards. But his lyricism has always been intelligent and socially aware, and with recent releases such as Howdon Aldi Death Queue, he appears to be going in a chart-opposing direction as he develops on different styles.
Disclosure (Headliner) – Sunday 29th August
The record shifting dance duo will close Mainstage West on the Sunday of the festival. It should be a fitting end to the weekend in a set that will include hits such as Talk, Latch and Know Your Worth.
The Wombats – Sunday 29th August
Noughties indie favourites The Wombats have continued on their successes pretty consistently over the past two decades, as 2015’s Greek Tragedy proved to be one of their best selling hits in spite of the popularity of their earlier catalogue.
Further Main Stage West highlights
Sports Team – Saturday 28th August
I Don’t Know How But They Found Me – Sunday 29th August
BBC INTRODUCING STAGE
The BBC Introducing Stage is known for showcasing some of the best up and coming acts around. In the past, it has hosted performances from artists early on in their career such as
Slaves, Pale Waves, Enter Shikari and also Mainstage West’s Friday night headliner, Biffy Clyro. There is every chance that you could witness a future headliner in years to come on the intimate BBC Introducing Stage.
Yard Act – Friday 27th August
Adding a danceable edge to spoken word delivery are Yard Act. In the lyricists narration, they deal in parody and irony in almost equal measure, reflecting on poignant non-events in the most salt of the earth way.
They marry this with groove-heavy bass lines and drum machines to make for very entertaining listening.
Calva Louise (Headliner) – Sunday 29th August
Manchester trio Calva Louise have the privilege of closing the BBC Introducing stage on Sunday Night, but rest assured it won’t be a sombre affair. They describe their diverse pallet of influence as “A molotov cocktail, encompassing ambitious songwriting and searing guitar hooks.” It’s a set which will no doubt introduce Calva Louise to many Sunday evening punters.
Bull – Sunday 29th August
York’s favourite idiosyncratic four piece take to the Introducing stage off the back of their debut album Discover Effortless Living released earlier in the year. It’s an enjoyable listen throughout, jam-packed with catchy melodic hooks and raw instrumental brilliance. Bull aren’t to be missed on the closing day of the festival.
FESTIVAL REPUBLIC, THE LOCKUP & THE PIT
The following three stages, Festival Republic, The Lockup & The Pit will only be open for one day each, but it’s definitely worth calling in to them at least once to catch some of the talent on show. There is a wide berth of acts across the stages, which ranges from lo-fi, experimental indie artists to heavy political punk.
Festival Republic Stage (Friday Only)
Girl In Red
Sophie And The Giants
The Lockup (Saturday Only)
The Pit (Sunday only)
Dead Poet Society
BBC RADIO 1 STAGE XTRA
The Radio 1 Xtra stage is mainly a great showcase stage for fans of Rap, Drill and R&B. This is where you’ll find both up and coming and genre leading artists who are sweeping the nation, growing their fan bases along the way.
OFB (Headliner) – Friday 27th August
SHAYBO – Saturday 28th August
M24 – Sunday 29th August
NOISY – Sunday 29th August
RADIO 1 DANCE STAGE
Visit the Radio 1 Dance Stage at any point of the festival and you can guarantee an energetic atmosphere, with a host of DJ’s and artists keeping spirits high throughout the weekend.
Shy FX – Friday 27th August
Frankie Wah – Saturday 28th August
Alfie Templeman – Sunday 29th August
Leeds are also known for throwing in a few secret sets that only get announced on the day, so keep an eye on the Leeds Festival App to keep in the loop.
Keep an eye on our Instagram here to keep up-to-date with all onsite action this weekend.