Festivals 2015: Reading & Leeds Review – Mumford & Sons, alt-J, Bastille + more

Ellie Langford reports on the opening day of Reading Festival

PHOTO: Jen O'Neill

PHOTO: Jen O’Neill

As Marcus Mumford quite rightly said as he stood for the first time on the Reading main stage, there is nothing quite like a British music festival. Three days and 150,000 music-lovers later, Reading Festival delivered in spades with it’s questionable summer weather and countless incredible bands.

With clear skies overhead Panic! At The Disco took to the main stage for the first time in 4 years with songs both fresh and familiar. Things began a little flat, with newer singles ‘Hallelujah’, ‘Vegas Lights’ and ‘Nicotine’ failing to pack a punch for the afternoon revelers. They pull it back together, however, for a much anticipated rendition of ‘Nine In the Afternoon’ which brightens the already sunny day. Following on this high, the Panic! boys do a Kanye with a crowd-pleasing cover of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ (for which they thankfully learnt all the words) and the set ends beautifully with the classic ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’.

PHOTO: Jen O'Neill

PHOTO: Jen O’Neill

The modest Bastille,  seemingly suprised at being on such a massive stage, pleased their many assembled fans early on with songs ‘Flaws’ and Weight of Living, Pt. II’. Playing to their strengths, they bring out their popular cover of ‘Rhythm is a Dancer’ and their mash-up of ‘No Scrubs’ by TLC and ‘Angels’ by The XX. Despite his shy demeanour, lead singer Dan Smith still manages to get the crowd jumping and shouting ready for the massive ‘Pompeii’ which neatly ends their set. Though an undeniably excellent performance, you can’t help but feel the slightly smaller NME stage is a better match for Bastille’s energy.

PHOTO: Sidney Bernstein

PHOTO: Sidney Bernstein

With the lights low and the summer air thick, Alt took to the stage to bring inject magic into the evening with psychedelic screen effects and a seamless blend of old and new. The peaceful crowd were effortlessly enveloped by a soothing and otherworldly wall of sound with renditions of ‘Dissolve Me’, ‘Every Other Freckle’ and the much loved ‘Breezeblocks’. Time seemed to slow as they played, and their set ended without a single flaw to it’s name.

PHOTO: Jen O'Neill

PHOTO: Jen O’Neill

From the moment they stepped on stage Mumford and Sons promised a party and delivered straight away with ‘Little Lion Man’ and ‘I Will Wait’. Their energy and stage presence is charming as it is infectious. When strings were required, they were joined on-stage by Tom Hobden, previously Noah And The Whale, taking things from good to even better. As the night moved on the mood rose from the inviting melancholy of ‘Awake My Soul’ to the upbeat joy of ‘Lover Of The Light’ and ‘The Cave’. The only shame was an encore that feature two hardly-known newer songs, sealing a disappointing ending. Nonetheless, Mumford and Sons dominated the main stage for the inaugural headline set and proved themselves as a band not to be forgotten.

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