Carling Leeds Mini-Site

The Ultimate Resource for the Carling Leeds Festival 2002
****Full Live Review****

Leeds Festival - Temple Newsam - Friday 23rd August

As the clouds hover in the Northern Skyline 50,000 of us hope and pray that just for once in old Blighty the clouds will part and heaven sent sunshine will shine a light on Generation X this Bank Holiday. The big man in the sky doesn't answer our prayers, but for the time being we are content to live with the clouds as a preference to the following days torrential downpour. Today though is a meeting point of our musical heritage meets the contemporary millennium mix and match culture and ultimately as we sit here the big questions are Will Guns and Roses actually grace us with their presence? and Can the Prodigy gain ground after Liam Howlett settled down with an Appleton sister?

But for now the first band of the day are Puddle Of Mudd. The name says it all - a little damp, wishy washy, dreary, almost beige like in it's outlook and the sort of damp jock rockers who spend their time crying into their pints over lost girlfriends. It's taking rock music back 10 years previous and even the anthemic "She Hates Me" can't rescue a set which was doomed to fail from the outset. With our spirits dampened somewhat we head over to the Evening Session Stage to see ex At The Drive In members new project Sparta. Raising their game a touch they take the raucous blueprint of ATDI and fuse it with dark spiralling melodies ala Twin Peaks.

Despite the fact that they play to a riotous bunch of bottle throwing ska punkers dismayed at the fact that Reel Big Fish won't be playing, The Shining prove that they are the best new band in Britain right now. Duncan Baxter rising to the challenge, fist's clenched in the air, arm's outstretched like the messiah and an attitude which veers between the macho posturing of Ian Brown and Liam Gallagher to the feminine traits of Mick Jagger or Jonathan Rhys Meyer's. The album "True Skies" has classic debut album written all over it and they set about playing what in time will be described as a greatest hits set - the pummelling riff of "Quicksilver", the gentle subtleties of "Young Again", the call to arms of "I Am The One" - but sadly all great thing's have to come to an end.

On any other day they would have been headlining the main stage, but with the Prodigy and Guns N Roses on the comeback trail, Slipknot are relegated to the early evening slot.With the doubters in the audience wondering whether Slipknot will be with us for much longer with side projects Stone Sour and the Murderdolls taking more and more time away from the main band. If we were ready to write them off as cartoon rocker, as soon as Corey Taylor and co hits the stage with "People = Shit" all traces of cynicism are wiped away. "666" and "The Heretic Anthem" are played with a renewed passion, but at the end of the day it's not the music were here for. Us maggots down the front are simply here to gawp at the spectacle in the same sort of way we can't help but stare at a disfigured face or a car crash. But it's more League of Gentlemen than genuine shock rock and with the current climate for Mini-Me's there's a strange desire for Slipknot Juniors ala S Club or Blazin Squad to So Solid. Imagine the carnage of an 8 teenage rockers who push the envelope so far that they make Slipknot simply look as tame as an ageing Kiss. Bring it on!!!!

If Slipknot still have that fire in their bellies, then the Prodigy are simply treading water. Settled down with an Appleton sister and hanging around with the younger Gallagher you could quite easily say that Liam Howlett has resigned himself to Candle Light dinners rather than being a "Firestarter". It's not so much "Smack My Bitch Up", more slap an extra thousand on her credit card. No more "Rohypnol", more a little Nightnurse and Ovalteen for a sound nights sleep. You see after the carnage of Slipknot, the Prodigy can't help but look like throwbacks from 1997 where the idea of Keith's green hair was poked and probed at with curiosity rather than sitting back and saying look at Beckhams new Mohican haircut. Still with the exception of a cover of Madness' "Night boat To Cairo" which has too much of Benny Hill hamming it up for it's own good, the likes of "Poison", "Minefields" and "Breath" remind us of why we fell in love with them all those years ago.

Arriving over an hour late it was looking for a while that Axl has thrown one of his rock star tantrums and simply walked leaving a potential riot on our hands. As images of Nuclear destruction, starving children and riot police are projected and the opening riff to "Welcome to The Jungle" explodes Guns N Roses are before our eyes like the 90s never even happened. Ok, Axl is a little larger than last time we saw him - but stood up there with his long flowing hair and trademark bandana you have a true star amongst a bunch of reluctant indie shoe gazers. But tonight isn't just about the rebirth of Axl - it's as much about the death of Slash and as we eye the new members up and down there is one clear star amongst what at best can be described a sun bedded wrinkled session musicians. That star is known as Bucket, he plays guitar, already has a legion of followers in the audience with matching bucket heads and geisha boy face paint. While no one will ever truly replace Slash, it's safe to say that by the end of the year there will be the Cult of Bucket Head foundation set up in his honour.

With only a handful of songs played off new album "Chinese Democracy", tonight is all about a celebration of the former glories while acknowledging that a new era is fast approaching. "Sweet Child O' Mine", "Paradise City", "November Rain" and their cover of "Knocking On Heavens Door" return like lost sons to the fold and are welcomed with open arms. At times lacking the fluidity of Slash, the backing musicians as times can seem a little too restrained and under the dictatorship of Axl Rose their is little they can do to add their own stamp on the proceedings. As the curfew looms ever closer Axl rants "They want this to be the last song, but we've got 8 more songs to play. I don't want to cause a riot but it's either you or them?". At which point he proceeds with the rest of the set to the closer "Paradise City". We leave happy. Axl leaves happy. And we all give a big sigh of relief that they didn't destroy our teenage dreams.

Alex McCann

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Leeds Festival - Temple Newsam - Saturday 24th August

In a perfect world The Moldy Peaches would be touring the world with the likes of Britney Spears and S Club Juniors before going on to perform The Moldy Peaches on Ice show in the heart of Disney World. But beneath the cute exterior of fluffy bunnies, cuddly bears and Robin Hood costumes lies a subversive message in the likes of "Who's Got The Crack?" and "Rainbows". It's a perfect start to a Saturday afternoon, the point where your hangover is just wearing off while hallucinating with images of Children's TV characters and Ant & Dec in a shouting match with Davina McCall. With lines like "You should play more games like......shove the dick in the hole" I think it's safe to say that they will never write or perform with Ms Spears , but here's hoping for the point where Pop truly does eat itself.

After the anti-rock of the Moldy Peaches we head over to see The Von Bondies. Perfectly sound tracking our times and with that all important Detroit connection (I.e. Jack White is the boyfriend of one of the members and he also happened to produce their album) they are the band of the moment. Which is reason why they must have been involved in the Rain Dance ceremony backstage that resulted in a torrential downpour hence creating a rush from psychedelic Swedes Soundtrack Of Our Lives over to the Evening Session Stage to watch these guys. The anti-dote to the effect laden cheese and over production of the Nu-metal scene (and to a certain extent the likes of Muse and Radiohead) they strip it down to the basics constructing soundscapes out of minimalistic intent while vocalist Jason Stollsteimer cries out in vein over the girl who broke his heart.

While we hoping to see the New York cool of Longwave, we chanced into Simple Kid who we know very little about, but meld classic 70's glam rock with 80's electro beats and have tunes waiting to break out all over H.A.P.P.Y radio. Longwave on the other hand sound like a carbon copy of the Strokes with Morrissey fronting the show. Simplistic riffs build up to a crescendo while the stretched out vowels of "Pool Song" could certainly have come from that charming Stephen Patrick Morrissey. With time they will break out from beneath the Strokes shadow, but here in the early afternoon show they simply remind of us of what a great night ahead we can look forward to.

Sadly though after the peaks so far today a trough was yet to come and bus like they came three in a row. Mercury Rev, whose string drenched symphonies work perfectly in the confines of theatre's and opera houses sadly get lost in the summer sun of a Saturday afternoon. Jonathon Donahue looking like the high priest of darkness backed by his satanic disciples dressed in black retreats backwards into the dark, yet still has the ego to believe that everything they do is beyond criticism. He's wrong as are the fashionistas who claim the future of music is Electroclash. If people didn't learn their mistakes with Fischerspooner, they would have dived straight into the hype of Peaches who we go to see just to laugh at her fall flat on her face. It's boring, but predictably she does exactly that as a result of having Zero tuneage throughout the whole set. And that leads us nicely to the Dandy Warhols who do actually have a couple of tunes under their bow. We watch "Bohemian Like You" and "Boys Better" then do as any self respecting person would - got the f**k away from their tuneless dirge!!!

The White Stripes are the sort of band you'd get had Pete Waterman and John Spencer Blues Explosion come together for a one off project. Regulation dress code, only two members so no need for an ugly backing band and an obvious hierarchy down to the plain and simple fact that whether Meg is Jack White's sister or wife it's clear she dotes on him so much she wouldn't dare question his judgement for fear of losing him for ever. As the show progresses it becomes clear that depending on your gender you take the side of each respective member. So the boys cheer for Meg. The girls want to spend a night in "Hotel Yorba" with Jack. And there's the sexually ambiguous in the middle who wouldn't mind a little Detroit lovin with which ever member takes their fancy that evening. "Joelene" is out of the set for Leeds while the likes of current single "Dead Leaves And the Dirty Ground" and "A Rat" are held together by the distinctive yelp of Mr White. Not only have they reconstructed the idea of a rock & roll band they've just gone an rescued the whole idea of a duo from the hands of some dodgy Pet Shop Boys pilfering duo in the Yorkshire Broads. And for that we have to be truly thankful!!!

Proving that the best music always comes from outsider rather that the bigger seats that sit on the bus, Weezer triumph on the main stage with a set that is damn near perfection. With no noticeable gimmicks (despite the fact they have some of the most memorable video's in pop history) on stage it's simply down to the charm of good old rock & roll music formed with nugget melodies and the sort of lyrics that can appeal to every man and his dog. Old classics like "Buddy Holiday", "Say It Ain't So" and "Undone - The Sweater Song" sit seamlessly next to the current Muppet lovin single, "Hash Pipe" and "Dope Song". The fact that these melodies come from one Rivers Cuomo - a man whose rock & roll fantasies were ultimately lived out in his head in the solitary of his bedroom - is even more remarkable. From the bedroom to the stage and a whole generation of misfit's cheer.

A uniquely British group of Misfits come together under the guiding hand of Jarvis Cocker. We are of course talking about the band Pulp and sadly these festival appearances could easily be the bands last shows following the rumours that the band are currently Record label less after the forthcoming Greatest Hits album later in the year. It's a sad moment for the band whose career spans nearly 20 years and who first found success with the single "Babies" after struggling in Sheffield for years on the dole. Still over recent years the band have been on a downward spiral and the only thing keeping the going is Cocker's witty in between songbanter which tonight he uses to slag off the most despised band in British rock music, Toploader. Normally I'd say aim your targets to more important issues but with the combined combination of Toploader, Jamie Oliver and Sainsbury's you can't help but feel that attacking just one of them brings the other into further disrepute to keep it up. "Sorted For E's And Wizz", "Help The Aged", "Babies", a revised version of "Common People" are placed next to more recent gems such as "Bad Cover Version" and "Trees" and we all mourn the potential loss of one of Britain's most treasured bands. We encourage you all to write letters and show the band just how much they mean to us. And please remember if you don't it could all be too late.

We were informed earlier by Mary Anne Hobbs of the great news that the rain would hold off to at least the beginning of the Strokes. So slap bang on time as soon as the Strokes hit the stage the heavens open and we universally decide that what's a couple of drops of water when Julian Casablanca's can play on regardless, albeit with the help of  a stool, with a injured leg. It's no barrier and if anything puts them on the side of the underdogs despite headlining the main stage on the Saturday night. It's almost like everyone was just waiting for them to slip up and throw it all away and when faced with their first real hurdle they simple soldiered on and played the best show of their lives. Still playing the same set they played on their last UK Tour people seem to be finally getting used to the idea of a band which doesn't so much induce moshing - as gives you the ability to dance drunk or sober with the joyous celebration that "Last Night" and "New York City Cops" are the most invigorating, life affirming tunes we've heard in a lifetime. It's not new. Nor is it revolutionary. It's just rehashed rock & roll with empty statements, but still like early Oasis it seems like the most relevant hour of your life and anything else would just pale in comparison.

It's the zeitgeist now to play you're whole album in it's entirety (just look at Brian Wilson and Bowie)....and maybe the Strokes just fall into this category for the plain and simple fact they only have one album in "Barely Legal" but it sure makes good copy. Like Gallagher previously, Casablanca's has the ability to rewrite old classics and pass them off as his own which is exactly what he does with "Meet Me In The Bathroom", "Ze Newie", "The Way It Is" and "You Talk Too Much". They all quiet easily could have come straight off "Barely Legal", but still when you have a winning formula why change it.  Just before the closing "Take It Or Leave It" Julian is joined on vocal duties by Guided By Voices frontman for a run through of the bands "Salty Salute". If yesterday proved that image can only take you so far then today with the Strokes as the icing on the cake proved that songs will take you to people hearts.

Alex McCann

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Leeds Festival - Temple Newsam - Sunday 25th August

Staying true to the Leeds / Reading mainstay - Sunday is rock day - and with the exception of Alec Empire there isn't one dance band on the bill. A little one dimensional, maybe. A little elitist, definitely. But rock music is more than just this one pronged attack it used to be in the 80s and while each band on today's bill will certainly be placing their hands in the air in the name of rock music they all do it with a certainly amount of individuality from the exhilarating Andrew WK to the pop thrills of Ash through to the prog rock of Muse.

Swedish pop punkers Sahara Hotnights kick things off on the main stage with their 3 minute gems. Still not a patch on British exports like Kenickie or Angelica but still rocking just as hard as the boys. Which brings us to Vex Red's frontman Terry Abbott who is morphing into the best looking androgynous superstar since Brian Molko. Fresh from a tour of the US, the band are glad to be amongst friends and are tighter than ever with the dark industrial beats sounding crisper than before. Launching into the obligatory rock cover version, this time Christina Aguilera's "Genie In A Bottle", Terry walks out to meet us mere mortals and Morrissey like hands out flowers to his growing flock of admirers. Ever the romantic types they couldn't fail to win us over.

Surprisingly the first real highlight of the day belongs to joker of the moment Andrew WK. Young, dumb and full of cum - and also a bag of tunes which wash all the worries of the world away and replace it with the 3 stables of sex, drugs and rock & roll. "She Is Beautiful" and "Party Hard" built out of the same song with WK in his obligatory dirty white jeans and T-shirt. It's lowest common denominator rock music and why not? There's plenty of time for reading Wilde or Camus over the dark winter months so why not just switch off and enjoy life in the fast lane.

Bringing us back to reality with the opening "Everything Begins With A F**k", nosebleed techno meets hardcore punk thrills, Alec Empire is a true visionary. Realizing that the punk music of the 70s actually changed f**k all and that to rehash it would simply be a pointless exercise, he set about bringing about a technological revolution mixing up gabba beats and political sloganeering. We live in a tabloid world and no-one looks past the headlines, so why not simply write the headlines yourself and allow your audience to work on the full story themselves by taking to the streets of Prague or Seattle in their droves to bring down the capitalist chains of power. Clad head to toe in black he realizes that all great revolutionary leaders looked like the greatest rock & roll stars and backed with his Atari Teenage Riot collaborators NiKEndo on beats and synths they create the soundtrack to the revolution. Which is what The (International) Noise Conspiracy go on to do later over on the Carling Stage clad in all in one red suits. Again stylized to the very last details they go under the opening statement of "People keep talking about reform. But isn't it a lot more fun having a revolution". Their calling card is "Capitalism Stole My Virginity" which ends with the refrain of "were all sluts, cheap products - in someone else's notebook". The difference is that some of us go about changing the world while others expect for someone to do it for them. It's good to see that the New Wave Of New Angry is alive and kicking at the Leeds Festival 2002.

"Were Glad to see you have paid your money to see the Hives" Howling Pelle of said band declares as his opening statement before closing with "Now you have enjoyed the main course you can move onto dessert". The self depreciating irony dripping out of his mouth before launching into "Hate To Say I Told You So", "Supply And Demand", "Main Offender" - garage classics by anyone's standard but there's a sense of too much, too soon. The best bands have always been those ones that verge on the ridiculous and the mock confidence which has taken them from the gutter to the stars frankly won't work when they're filling out enormo-domes across the UK. Maybe, just maybe we need to keep the Hives for ourselves before them simply burn out and fade away.

Up until the Saturday afternoon it was still doubtful that Ash would be appearing on the bill tonight, but the fact itself that drummer Rick Murray has ignored doctors orders to appear at the festival could be seen as a the final curtain for the band. In just over a year the band have come back from being written off to coming back with a number 1 album "Free All Angels" and in the next month the best of compilation is released. Despite the fact that their latest single "Envy" is probably the best thing they've ever written there's a sense of where do Ash go next. They have proved that if they move away from the 3 minute pop single as they did on the second album "Nu-Clear Sounds" then their fans walk away, but at the same time if they stick to the same winning formula of "Shining Light", "Girl From Mars" or "Goldfinger" they will be universally panned by the critics. In the live arena through the band can't be beaten and despite the fact that they've always sounded better musically that Tim Wheeler can sing it's back to back singles from "Jack Names The Planet" to the aforementioned "Envy". Regardless of what happens next Ash have a back catalogue that would put most bands to shame.

Muse and the Foo Fighters on the other hand are simply running through the motions. The former lacking the production of their own recent theatre shows and suffering as result of losing their cinematic multi-faceted big brother style cams. The news that Matt Bellamy has found love may just account for the fact that the band seem less intense than ever taking the edge away from the likes of "Plug In Baby", "New Born" and "Muscle Museum". The Foo Fighters appearance is somewhat of a surprise to those who expected Dave Grohl to run off with Queens Of The Stone Age. But despite the fact they run through a plethora of hits from "This Is A Call" and "Breakout" to "Times Like These" and "Low" from the long awaited new album you can't help but feel that had Grohl not been the drummer for Nirvana a band like Foo Fighter would otherwise be languishing in the mid afternoon on the Evening Session Stage. Take a band like Wilt for example who are still struggling on the indie circuit and then compare them song for song and i'd find anyone who when pushed wouldn't choose Wilt as the preferred option. Still I guess if it proves anything - it's that nostalgia will win every time time and as Grohl lists off all the time he's played reading it speaks for itself that it's Nirvana's 1992 appearance that gets the biggest cheer.

As we retire to the bar news reaches us that a mini riot has started with the tradition burning of the portoloo's. We could make some joke about how it was certainly hotter than the Foo Fighters. Or we could come out with the old cliché that it could only happen up North. But then there's a sinking feeling that this could be the last year at Temple Newsam - here's hoping that were wrong as the Leeds Festival has become a byword for quality amongst the over commercialized V Festivals.

Alex McCann

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