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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