When me and my mate failed to get tickets for Glastonbury in 2005 we were a bit disappointed to say the least. This was the first time we failed in our quest since popping our Glasto cherries in 1997 and we were becoming increasingly frustrated with what we termed ‘bandwagon jumpers’ who were making the festival far too fashionable and extremely difficult to get tickets. The hype generated by the BBC’s coverage of the festival hadn’t helped but then the ticketing technology wasn’t up to much either. In those days tickets could be purchased either over the phone or online but the phone lines and website simply couldn’t cope with the demand (some would argue it’s still the same today). After spending literally all day with a phone to our ear and constantly refreshing several browsers (while at work!) we were on the verge of giving up when the dreaded ‘Sold Out’ page was put up online. This was the start of our annual battle to get tickets – a battle we then won every year until 2019.
With no Glastonbury to look forward to in 2005 we turned our attention to alternatives and Leeds Festival came out on top. The Reading and Leeds Festivals are a pair of annual music festivals that take place simultaneously on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the August bank holiday weekend, sharing the same bill. Artists who perform at Reading on Friday will play at Leeds on Saturday. Those who play Reading on Saturday will be at Leeds on Sunday etc (you get the general idea).
Looking back now, the lineup for Reading and Leeds in 2005 was a very strong one yet I don’t think we appreciated just how strong it was at the time. Just look at that bill…
Highlights from Leeds Festival in 2005 were:
Iron Maiden – one of the first bands I saw as a kid back in 1983 and if I’m not mistaken this was the first time I saw them again since the tragedy-tinged Monsters of Rock Festival at Donington in 1988 (read my blog post here)
Incubus – my stepsons (who I’d only met earlier that year) were huge fans and had recently introduced me to their music. They were excellent.
Foo Fighters – I’d actually forgotten they played at Leeds this year until I wrote this!
Arcade Fire – only just coming to prominence in the UK at the time and still relatively unknown by many (hence ‘The‘ Arcade Fire typo on the poster!) Their set in the NME/Radio 1 tent was the stuff of legend and they blew us away. Definitely up there in my Top 10 gigs of all time..
Editors – another highlight from the NME/Radio 1 tent and relative unknowns at the time (look how far down the bill they are!) Think this was actually the first of many times I’ve seen the band.
Iggy & The Stooges – leathery legend. Enough said.
Other notable performances over the weekend came from Pixies (first and only time I’ve seen them), Queens of the Stone Age, The Coral, Elbow, Killers, Sons and Daughters and The Go! Team. One band we missed that year was the Arctic Monkeys who hadn’t yet released a single but were about to ‘take off’ later in 2005. If you look at the lineup poster you can just about make out their name on the Carling Stage!
So was Leeds Festival a good alternative to Glasto?
Well it certainly had its faults – it was obviously much smaller and less ‘weird’ than Glasto (we always loved the weirdness of Worthy Farm). There were also far too many teenagers at Leeds for our liking (“fucking students” was a phrase used a lot over the weekend!). Despite only being in our 30s at the time we were made to feel positively ancient at times. Joking aside I am still of the opinion that the sheer number of adolescents at the festival, many away from their parents for the first time and off their faces, will have contributed to the so called riots which took place on the closing night. This is something which became a bit of a tradition over the years.
However none of this was enough to put us off Leeds Festival and we enjoyed it so much that we returned in 2006 when Glastonbury had another of its ‘fallow years’. Here’s what happened!
At least we didn’t have the stress of getting tickets for it that year…