Ricky Charlesworth: My Leeds Festival debut

As someone who had never been to a festival before, I'll admit to having reservations about attending Leeds Fest.

The crowd in front of the main stage for The Vaccines. PIC: Mark Bickerdike

I can’t say I’m someone who enjoys being in a huge crowd whilst at the mercy of the English weather - and the thought of starting and ending each day holed up in a tent wasn’t really appealing to me either.

But, I decided to ignore all my prejudices about festival life and I’m glad I did.

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It may have been a wet weekend weather-wise, but the music and general ambience of festival life won me over.

This year’s Leeds Fest was attended by record crowds of 85,000 with acts such as Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Foals and Fall Out Boy headlining across the three days.

With so many acts to see it was hard to know where to begin, once the struggle with the tent was over!

But the Reading & Leeds app was a godsend, with easy-to-use navigation allowing even the most naive festival goer (i.e myself) to simply see who’s on where and at what time.

The highlight for me and my plus one was most definitely Disclosure’s performance on the Saturday evening.

The electronic duo were personal favourites of ours and this was the second time we’d seen them this year, after a gig in Berlin in February.

The pair didn’t disappoint, and their stunning visual set was certainly appreciated by the thousands who braved the biblical-type rain that hammered down as the evening wore on.

Other highlights across the weekend were the performances of Biffy Clyro, Fall Out Boy and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers who closed proceedings on Sunday night.

Many revellers packed into the smaller stages, which was home for plenty of local bands including the Sherlocks and Pulled Apart by Horses.

On the subject of local bands, I also got to have a chat with Melvin Benn, the chief organiser of the festival over the weekend.

He told me that he remains as committed as ever to improving the event - and that means keeping Yorkshire talent at the heart of the annual spectacle.

When I quizzed him on whether he finds it hard to keep improving the event, he gave a surprise answer.

“I don’t think it’s a tough job to get better each year,” he said.

“It’s the bands that do it for me.

“These bands are getting better and better.

“That’s the joy of this; that you have a constant supply of young people who don’t care what other bands have done and say ‘we’ll do it better’.

“I would say between five and ten percent of the bands that have played here this year are from Yorkshire and there’s no reason for that not to increase.

“If that figure gets up to ten per cent I’d be delighted because the people of Yorkshire really respond to local bands here.

“Yorkshire bands are always getting favoured status and that’s really important to me.”

So, God’s Own County poised to see more homegrown bands at it’s premier festival? Amen to that.