Culture, Music, Review

Leeds Festival 2021 – Sunday review: An inflatable dancing penis, giant wombats & Post Malone baring his heart of gold

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Featured Image: Georgina Hurdsfield / Festival Republic


Before we knew it, the last day of the festival was upon us, however, the festivities were far from over. The new headliners of the day were electronic duo Disclosure and hip-hop artist Post Malone. It’s worth noting that what makes Leeds Festival so special is the sheer diversity of acts it showcases.

The opportunity to see a range of indie, rap, and pop artists at varying stages in their careers is what makes a festival experience so unique. The sun may have disappeared for the day but the Leeds crowd’s commitment to having a good time was never in danger of dwindling.

The Academic – Main Stage East @ 12:30pm

Photography: Wolff

Introduced by Sunta Templeton, Irish indie band, The Academic pulled quite the crowd. Their frontman Craig Fitzgerald was jumping off the bat, and getting everyone to clap overhead. They may have been the first band on, however, no one could’ve guessed that they hadn’t played a live show in around 350 days – as reminded by Fitzgerald. Confidence was at a high, as he also noted, “Gonna keep rocking and get in trouble with Post Malone later”.

Their track ‘Anything Could Happen’ saw the crowd singing, “And you’ve been saving all your feelings for a Saturday night” – which clearly they weren’t, given the energy they were focusing at the band. One of their latest releases may have been called, ‘Not Your Summer’, however, they apparently realised later that they should’ve called it ‘hot girl summer’.

Their next one was ‘Mixtape 3000’. One of their older releases but their crowd clearly knew and remembered it. Fitzgerald was kicking his legs and spinning around with his guitar, sending the crowd into a frenzy. Before launching into their next addictively catchy track, they let the crowd know that they would be returning to Leeds during April next year.

‘Acting My Age’ saw the audience singing and clapping along, it has to be said that the band interacts exceptionally well together – laughing on stage, it was both lovely to watch and hear. Their final song, ‘Bear Claw’, was immediately known by the crowd once it was announced and turned into an almost call and response with the audience singing their lyrics back. Putting all of their energy in, the track ended with Fitzgerald playing his guitar on the floor.

Keep up with The Academic: Spotify | Youtube | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Website


Beabadoobee – Main Stage East @ 2:50pm

Photography: Amir Hossain

Any fan of Beabadoobee would know that her set would certainly be worth it. After swapping making tracks in her bedroom for commanding arena-sized stages, Leeds Fest was the perfect way to share her tracks. Her first track ‘Care’, taken from her debut album Fake It Flowers (2020), immediately drew a large crowd – often hailed the voice of Gen-Z, one look at the average age of her receptive crowd proved this, which also included an inflatable dinosaur. From the offset, the band is a natural on stage.

‘Dye It Red’ was the perfect empowering anthem, accompanied by furious drumming and the crowd cheering. Her TikTok famous hit, ‘Coffee’ called for a tempo change and soft acoustic guitar. One of her original hits, ‘She Plays Bass’ was exceptionally powerful live and you know a set is going well when the crowd’s joy is reflected in the band’s reaction.

Her last two tracks ‘Last Day On Earth’ and ‘Cologne’, were taken from her Our Extended Play EP, which was shown as the background for her set. Each produced by The 1975’s Matty Healy, contained a powerful melody and a strong belonging in a festival set. A special mention has to go to ‘Cologne’, whether it was because it was the last song or day of the festival, the band and audience collectively gave it their all.

Keep up with Beabadoobee: Spotify | Youtube | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Website


Becky Hill – Main Stage West @ 3:25pm

Photography: Jennifer McCord

A voice you’ve almost certainly heard on the radio, Becky Hill entered wearing shiny silver platform boots and a matching silver dress. It was indeed perfect for a festival. You’d be correct in stating that she sounds exactly as she does in the studio, however, the whole atmosphere of a live show heightened her performance further. Her track ‘Afterglow’, provided a much-needed dose of drum and bass. Dancing on stage, she’s the perfect frontwoman.

Perhaps well-known that a bit of flattery goes a long way, Hill announced that the crowd was “all looking f***ing sexy”, before checking they weren’t recording for the BBC. Her quippy one-liners were as much part of the show as her music – after the photographers were leaving, she said, “That’s what I like, a smooth entry and smooth exit, I’m just not going to talk today”. Also, regarding mic stand issues, she compared it to “trying to get a big thing into a small hole”. Further adding, she’d “only been there a few times”.

As well as a countdown to jump during, ‘Last Time’, she announced her favourite bit was the bridge, where she sings, “No more tears up in my eyes”. Arms outstretched to the heavens for ‘Heaven on My Mind’, her voice carried wonderfully across the field. Midway through, Hill announced that so far we were beating Reading and that she loves the North. The crowd responded by shouting “f*** Reading”, but were jokingly reminded by Hill to shut up as it was her show.

Her latest track ‘My Heart Goes ( La Di La)’ was from her new album, which she has been working on for the last decade. If this immediate club anthem was a sliver of what was to come, it’s certainly been worth the wait. Not wanting to leave the audience feeling short-changed, she quickly listed off the choruses for ‘I Could Get Used To This’ and ‘Back and Forth’. Middle fingers to the sky for anyone who had wronged them during ‘Wish You Well’, the crowd left Hill speechless as she noticed the crowd jumping and singing to every word.

Described as her old one with David Guetta, ‘Remember’, saw Hill clapping and looking so happy. Any success which comes Hill’s way will not be because she asked the crowd to stream her latest album during her set – it’ll be because of her intense work ethic, obvious talent, and grounded approach to life both on and off the stage.

Keep up with Becky Hill: Spotify | Youtube | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Website


The Wombats – Main Stage West @ 6:25pm

Photography: The Wombats

Introduced by Katie Owen, indie-rock heavyweights, The Wombats, had gathered a massive crowd for their set. The beginning of their set was signalled by thumping drums and their opening track could only be ‘Moving To New York’. Counting down to the chorus, the band was using the whole stage to bounce about.

‘Lemon To A Knife Fight’ also aptly featured an image of a lemon on the screen and a zoomed-in view of a girl on someone’s shoulders with a bottle of beer in hand, right when the band sang the lyrics, “Intoxicated higher than the ISS”.

A decisive fan-favourite, ‘Let’s Dance to Joy Division’ not only featured an inflatable penis dancing in the audience but also five giant dancing wombats on stage too. Lead singer Matthew Murphy noted, “Christ on a bike Leeds you’ve all got a lot of beans!” Reminiscing their own experiences of festivals, the memories of Heinz and Southern Comfort were tossed around. Announcing a new album arrived on the 7th of January, this was their chance to road-test their latest tracks.

Slower and more delicate, ‘Method To The Madness’ saw Murphy raising his Heineken bottle to the crowd at the end. Only the second time they’d performed it, ‘If You Ever Leave, I’m Coming With You’ was beautiful and had their usual wit and insightful songwriting. Old but golden tracks such as ‘Pink Lemonade’ weren’t missed off either.

Accompanied by pink flares, purple and gold lights, and even audience members stacking three people tall, ‘Pink Lemonade’ was a bubblegum-disco masterpiece. ‘Turn’ was even more poetic in person, and ‘Tokyo’ (Vampires & Wolves) was dedicated to Beth Edwards and Amelia McCormick, a lovely gesture indeed. Implored by Murphy, “Please don’t fly delta airways this weekend”, he thanked the crowd for attending and noted they’d see us soon. ‘Greek Tragedy’ may have been their last track, however, their set had been anything but tragic.

Keep up with The Wombats: Spotify | Youtube | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Website


Post Malone – Main Stage East @ 9:30pm

Photography: Georgina Hurdsfield / Festival Republic

Before Post Malone could arrive on stage, everyone had their phones pointed towards the stage to immortalise the moment. After the usual scuffle, they let extra people into the front section to enjoy their favourite artist. The opening track, ‘Wow.’ certainly wowed the audience as he entered from behind the smoke on top of the stage, looking down on everyone.

The crowd were heard chanting, “Postie, Postie, Postie!” After thanking his crowd in his formal and lovely own way by calling them, “Ladies and gentlemen”, he introduced himself as ‘Austin Post’. Throughout the evening we got to meet the man behind the music. A man who can down a beer better than anyone else onstage, encouraged by the Leeds crowd. Stage crew Dennis, quickly became one of the crowd’s favourite people as he continually delivered beers on stage throughout the set.

‘Better Now’ had everyone singing along with him on his command and with what had become the expected fireworks and fire from previous headline sets. ‘Saint Tropez’ also featured pink lights and pink fireworks, however, unlike the previous performers, it was just him on stage. Noting in his set that this was ‘epic’, his face was grinning so much, it was a pleasure to see. Told by the crowd to “put their twos up”, everyone had their fingers up for ‘Too Young’. At the end of the track, all of the focus was on his vocals, proving that his talent is truly undeniable.

As everyone knows, he’s been really into shapes, but before he could get into ‘Rhombus’, it was time for another drink. After successfully finishing it, he told the crowd, “Y’all gonna get me f***ed up”. His vocal prowess was also shown in ‘Psycho’, while expertly holding a note – his capacity to convey emotion while singing his exceptionally crafted lyrics live was so moving. Some audience members were temporarily left at a loss for words as well as Malone, as he said, “F*** me that song has a lot of words in it!”

Ever-faithful Dennis continued to answer the crowd’s chant and provide the drinks leaving Malone stating, “I’m hammered drunk now, I wasn’t when I started!” Regardless, it certainly didn’t hamper his performance. 

His golden teeth and diamond bracelet glinting under the light, ‘Take What You Want’ featured Ozzy Osbourne on the screen – a welcome surprise for the crowd. While re-affirming his love for Dennis after another drink, we were told, “You know who we don’t love though, the person I wrote this song about!” The live arena was perfect for showing the vulnerability of ‘I Fall Apart’, while inviting the crowd to share the track with him.

At one point another stagehand Angie almost stole Dennis’ thunder with Malone telling him he wasn’t the favourite anymore. Most would agree that Malone playing The White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’ on an acoustic guitar was a highlight.

Despite introducing ‘Stay’ as “the most boring part of anyone wants a p*** or drink”, it was a very moving section as he sang under a single spotlight. Thanking the crowd, he said with such conviction, “I’m the luckiest in the universe and it’s all because of y’all!” ‘White Iverson’ was the first song he released and just like a fine wine, it just gets better with age. Dedicating his track ‘Sunflower’ to the crowd, he declared that we were all his sunflower.

‘Rockstar’ aptly contained the most rock star moment of the night, where Malone was surrounded by flames and smashed his acoustic guitar on stage. An artist never to do anything by halves, he then jumped on it to finish the job and gave the pieces to his fans.

Reminiscing his humble beginnings while writing ‘Congratulations’, he said that people used to say that he’d never play Leeds – cue a strong boo from the crowd. Fireworks at the end of the track celebrated the support the crowd had for him and was his own celebrations. The smell of smoke may die but the memories made never will. Shouting to the crowd, “I love you all more than life”, “Be safe and take care”, and “Spread love wherever you can!” His last words were, “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!” Wise words from the talented and down-to-earth artist, a man whose gold awards perfectly match his heart.

Keep up with Post Malone: Spotify | Youtube | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Website


For more from Leeds Festival check out: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Website

About the author / 

Camilla Whitfield

Third Year BA English with Overseas Study | Music Editor | Manchester & Cumbria | Music & Gig Enthusiast

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