Tuesday, 20 September 2016

OnRoundHay Festival - Leeds, Roundhay Park September 17th 2016 (FESTIVAL REVIEW)

 As far as the city of Leeds goes, it’s had far worse days, Roundhay Park returned as a live music venue, the sun shone throughout as people turned up in droves, no doubt taking advantage of the fine weather to make a last minute decision to attend...

Legendary promoter Harvey Goldsmith looked pretty pleased with his efforts too, appearing on stage to introduce each band, the “site” very much to his liking, whilst also clearly stating his intent to return with a bigger and better OnRoundhay in the future, perhaps pitching itself as an urban version of Deershed, aimed at those who seek the civilised vibe of a family friendly festival but don’t wish to camp out all a weekend.

Certainly that was the feel of OnRoundhay, containing a somewhat different audience to a typical Leeds festival. With a certain leading department store about to open a brand new outlet in the city, it’s significant presence as a prominent festival sponsor was all for there to see including live chefs performing throughout the afternoon on their own demo stage, a cookery school, not to mention a very upmarket collective of catering outlets. The kids’ activities were also plentiful although again the emphasis was more on arts and crafts than simply fairground rides, adding to the overall impression of a relaxed afternoon of civilised family friendly fun ahead of an evening of rock and roll debauchery.

The daytime music line-up seemed to further enforce this, the soothing Americana of Iowan singer songwriter Max Jury following the funk-fuelled boogie from The Haggis Horns providing a chilled-out backdrop to the afternoon sunshine, the latter taking oneself and no doubt many others on a trip down amnesia lane to a time when acid jazz ruled supreme, ‘Return of The Haggis’ proving a particular highlight.

Having witnessed Wolf Alice tearing the Leeds Academy a new arsehole a few months ago it would be interesting to see how their power pop would resonate on the festival stage. Once the sound had settled down the quartet ripped through their smash and grab set with ruthless efficiency, drawing heavily from debut ‘My Love Is Cool’, opening with ‘Your Love’s Whore’ and following-up with many of their best known nuggets including the slide guitar infused ’90 Mile Beach’ and the shimmering ‘Bros’.

Primal Scream

In the week that saw Skepta scoop the 25th Mercury Music Prize, it’s fitting that we witnessed the band that landed the inaugural incarnation of this particular gong with their ground breaking magnum opus Screamadelica, Primal Scream. Having never encountered Bobby Gillespie’s dance rock pioneers before, I’m not quite sure what to expect but a few bars into curtain raiser ‘Movin’ On Up’ I’m transported back a quarter of a century as the unforgettable blend of blues, acid house and gospel gets everyone grooving away. Primal Scream’s inner core of Gillespie, Andrew Innes and Martin Duffy have been together long enough know the score as the ramshackle shuffle of ‘Jailbird’ takes it up a notch before ‘Damaged’ brings everyone back down nicely, setting the tone for the rest of their tremendous set containing ‘Higher Than The Sun’ ‘Swastika Eyes’ ‘Loaded’ and ‘Rocks’ before the inevitable climax of the eternally magnificent ‘Come Together’, the immortal words of Jesse Jackson there for all to hear, young and old shimmying along in unison.


Tonight’s headliners James, once again introduced by the ever effusive Goldsmith, have had a bit of a love hate relationship with ‘Sit Down’, the song that hauled the band from obscurity into the big time. Tonight Booth has done a Ryder Cup and booted his ace right up the running order, perhaps a nod to those attending with families whose children are starting to flag (what a thoughtful chap) as the opener ‘Getting Away with It’ concludes, that familiar boom cha-cha boom-boom drum beat kicks in, the audience scarcely able to believe their luck. Nevertheless, portraying ‘James’ are a one song band is doing them a massive disservice, their latest long player, whose album artwork adorns the giant screens either side of the stage is their fourteenth, half a dozen of their back catalogue having graced the UK top ten, with all but the first two failing to make the top twenty. The remainder of the set consists of hearing fine songs I’d completely forgotten about such as ‘Laid’, ’She’s A Star’ and ‘Sometimes’ before the baggy anthem ‘Come Home’ completed the main set, ahead of encore ‘Say Something’, perhaps the final curtain for the late blooming summer of 2016.

Please come back next year.   

Words - Mike Price
Photos - Sarah Price

OnRoundHay Official