Leefest: The Neverland day three – Lianne La Havas, Shura, We Are Scientists and Submotion OrchestraCultureMusicLive music
As the sun finally powered its way through the misty clouds on Saturday morning and the gentle rustling of festival goers slowly rising drifted over the campsite, so day three of LeeFest officially began. Hangovers were in rich supply and the smell of unwashed campers absolute, but satisfaction reigned supreme. After all, Thursday and Friday had been two thoroughly enjoyable days of live music and shenanigans, so Saturday had a lot to live up to. In most cases, it succeeded.
The day began with YouTube sensation Hannah Trigwell, who has used the social media platform with devastating success to show off her considerable talent. With over 47 million views under her belt, it’s unsurprising that she draws such a large crowd so early in the day. Her blend of folk and pop music, delivered in the classic singer-songwriter fashion, is exactly the light touch required to begin this final day of music. There’s more than a little Ellie Goulding in her style, but where Goulding has strayed down the path of electro pop, Trigwell has stuck to her more traditional guns. Using her significant skill on the acoustic guitar and her vocal range, she covers everything from Sam Smith to Justin Bieber, and throws in a few of her own songs for good measure. She’s a deeply talented musician, surely it can only be a matter of time before one of the big labels comes knocking at her door.
Whilst Hannah Trigwell was merely a musician and her guitar, Submotion Orchestra are everything but. The seven piece from Leeds, architects of some of the finest ambient jazz and dub sounds you’ll have heard in the last six years, took to the main stage surprisingly early. It’s an amusing sight as, such is the complexity of their arrangements, with so many instruments required, they all barely fit. A tight squeeze aside, they began mesmerising LeeFest with their silky jazzy melodies and time seemed to almost instantly slow down. They are quite a remarkable act to watch live, as the balance between the light jazz and dark bass lines is so delicately poised. Individual songs like All Yours are juxtaposed with instrumental jams that appear to be off-the-cuff, yet are exceptionally tight and controlled. What is frustrating though, is the timing of their set. At a desperately short 30 minutes, it simply is not enough time to build up a significant head of steam or atmosphere. This was a set that would have been almost perfect for a sundown slot on the second stage, where an hour would have given them the time to really impress. As such, just as their show seemed to begin, it finished, much to the disappointment of all attending.
The disappointment didn’t last long however, as New York indie favourites We Are Scientists took the stage. Despite having been around seemingly longer than electricity, they still sound fresh enough to inject some much-needed moving and shaking into the afternoon’s proceedings. Drawing from an ever increasing back catalogue and touring their new LP Helter Seltzer, the set is a glorious mix of new singles, like the thudding rock ballad Buckle, and indie classic Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt. The indie rock boom of the early noughties may have finished but clearly We Are Scientists didn’t get the memo: their infectious and energetic tunes quickly take some, including yours truly, straight back to 2006 – albeit this time without the bad haircuts and tight jeans. These indie rockers have been playing this game longer than most, and it shows. The set is tight, fun, and at times hilarious, but what it lacks is a little edge. Unfortunately for We Are Scientists, the musical atmosphere has shifted, but they have stayed remarkably stubborn. This band will always have their core fans who love their classic indie shufflers, but considering how quickly they rose up the ranks, it’s a little disappointing to see that they haven’t gone on to do bigger and better things.
Someone who seems nailed on to do bigger and better things is Shura. Riding a wave of hype so colossal one wonders if it will ever break, she took to LeeFest two weeks after the release of her debut album, Nothing’s Real, and showed just about everyone present why so many people are talking about her. She’s straight into her show, crafting complex synth pop melodies, ably supported by her travelling band. There’s instantly a depth and bite to her sound, with album single What’s it Gonna Be making an early play to be one of the singles of the summer. She seems overwhelmed with the reaction that her music creates, constantly showering the audience with thanks and kind words for their support. It’s enthralling, ear-catching synth pop at its best, and she more than deserves the massive cheers she gets at the end of every song. 2Shy is another highlight: a powerful, touching and moving soul anthem, and it shows that Shura can easily create an emotional connection between herself and her fans, something that is often overlooked by a lot of musicians of a similar style. Each track feels like a window into her childhood and everyone can relate to those difficult moments of adolescence. Her show is a delight from start to finish, and almost as certainly as the sun will rise tomorrow, she will have come away from LeeFest with an army of new fans.
If Shura needed an example of how far her talent can take her, then she should look no further than LeeFest closer Lianne La Havas, who demonstrated just why Coldplay asked her to open their shows on their UK leg of their Head Full of Dreams tour. La Havas’s powerful soul music has already led to many comparisons between herself and the great Aretha Franklin, but realistically she is more than brilliant in her own right. Unstoppable is spectacular, with La Havas showing her exceptional vocal range to the 2,000 or so people who turned up to watch her. It feels straight away like a proper headline set, and even lesser-known songs from her repertoire sound colossal. Grow shows off the singer’s rockier side, before set closer Midnight brings the house down and the lights up on a memorable weekend of music and fun.
It’s not easy to get a major festival right at the first time of trying and there were a few issues throughout. Some of the bands could have been timetabled a little better, and a working cash point would have been a bonus, but all of these things are easily fixable. What LeeFest needed to get right, and did get right, was creating an atmosphere of fun and inclusion. The entire weekend felt very organic, and everyone felt involved with the running of the place in one way or another. Lee himself can be more than proud of what he has created and he can look forward, along with all those who came this weekend, to an even bigger and better weekend next year.
Photos: James Fisher
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