Arriving at Crooked Ways festival early, we make our way over to the Crooked Ways Presents stage. Duelling guitars are overlaid with angry vocals that are delivered with passion and ferocity as Road to the Horizon take to the stage. They put on one hell of a performance and it is a shame that they are playing in a tent otherwise no doubt there would be circle pits and walls of death galore. If rock is your thing, these guys certainly know how to do it.
Next up are Arithmia, a female fronted band that fill in the gap somewhere between Garbage and Paramore. ‘Rendezvous’ has a passionate vocal and a catchy chorus that has the crowd clapping along and the band then launch into ‘Underdog’ with its soaring vocals over rock guitar riffs. The band play the first song they ever wrote ‘Freefall’, which is a bit like Evanescence if they had more balls and less God. The audience are evidently enjoying the performance with a great deal of clapping and dancing as the band shuttle through ‘In Your Head’ and ‘Cruel Intentions’ and end with a new song that receives a good reception. If today’s performance is anything to go by, Arythmia will soon have teenage rock fans hearts beating to the rhythm of their infectious sounds.
Sticking with the Crooked Ways Presents stage, we get carried away with the raw energy and engaging exuberance that is Daisy Cutter UK. With an eclectic mix of genres pummelled into a powerful on stage performance, they soon have the tent filling up and dancing along. ‘Drones’ is a forceful opening number that has punk meeting the heavier side of indie with soul searching vocals and a frenetic performance that indicates the band’s grasp of giving the audience a good time. ‘Horizons’ is a danceable indie rock anthem that has festival fans from the field filling up the tent. ‘Game of Life’ takes us to a rockier place with frontman Gaz Barrows building up to a catchy chorus and a guitar solo gives him time to breathe as he really does put all his energy into the performance. ‘Tether’s End’ is a pounding piece of power with angry vocals over music which The Foo Fighters would feel at home with, and there is no let up in the action as upbeat ‘Attika’ follows with its distinctive guitar riff. ‘Don’t Forget to Breathe’ is a laid back number perfect for chilling in the summer sun, which has actually made an appearance for this festival after the freeze fest that was Bearded Theory. Ending with the punky ‘Your Abortion’, Barrows shouts the chorus into a dancing crowd and Daisy Cutter UK become one to watch out for if you want to watch a performance to remember.
Hunger strikes suddenly so we make our way over to have a paneer wrap, but end up completely side tracked as we pass The Institution tent and hear the herald of a new dawn in dynamic indie rock that is Redwire.‘Invisible’ is a bouncy tight Britpop tune that fuses the energy of the early Artic Monkeys with the memorable melodies of Oasis. Frontman Tom ‘Nova’ Nowakowski is a coiled spring of charisma encouraging the audience to enjoy the experience of edgy indie with anthemic overtones. ‘Argentina’ leads with a pathos laden vocal into a vibrant vibe with shouty harmonies and is followed by ‘Playing with Fire,’ an indie anthem that they ought to be dancing to already down at The Leadmill. One thing we really loved about Redwire was that they have a whole plethora of fantastic numbers that they were just belting out in a sonic swirl of songs. ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ is a jangling tune that is so dance inducing that Nowakowski is moving manically around the stage and the crowd are entranced by this hugely watchable band. Redwire turn a childhood taunt into an awesome indie anthem and have us captivated; convinced that they will knock the current insipid droning from the charts and replace it with their unstoppable music. By the final song, their last single ‘Live Today, Die Tomorrow’ a full pelt scream to experiencing excitement, Redwire have knocked away all the pretenders to the indie throne and filled a void that we were beginning to think was permanent. We look forward to seeing them grace the Main Stage of a festival very soon.
After conducting a couple of interviews, a swift sprint over to ‘The Institution’ tent was in order to catch Chris Helme perform a solo set that incorporated the classic indie anthems of The Seahorses with the melodic bluesy brilliance that his latest album ‘The Rookery’ has to offer. ‘Pleased’ showcases Helme’s soulful vocals against a tune that suggests sinking into a stupor; a lyrical lament to being unable to resist liquid temptation. Sandwiched between Seahorse tracks ‘You Can Talk To Me’ and the punchy indie anthem ‘Love Is The Law’, Helme’s solo offerings indicate such intensity in their composition and the stripped down solo sound of Seahorse tracks such as ‘Blinded By The Sun’ complement ‘The Rookery’ tracks perfectly. Ending with ‘Be Your Husband’, with its rhythm and blues influences, Helme has the audience clapping along to the beat, clearly delighted to be in the presence of such a impassioned singer. With throats throbbing from singing along with loved tracks both new and long cherished, we conclude that Chris Helme is the solo singer you should definitely try to catch this summer.
Back over on the Main Stage, Reverend and the Makers have the field in a frenzy with their high octane tunes. ‘He Said He Loved Me’ has a bouncing man next to me declare ‘bloody brilliant’ in a ringing Sheffield brogue and ‘Heavyweight Champion of the World’ is a riotous rave in the Yorkshire sunshine. This band’s fans sure know how to party!
Bursting on to the stage and launching straight into ‘Back To The Start’, Borrel’s band remind us why it was high time that Razorlight came back. A change in line up and image has done no significant damage as ‘In The Morning’ and ‘Keep The Right Profile’ help to showcase a brilliant back catalogue that made the band a leading light in the new indie scene back in 2004. Borrel’s high energy performance and the band’s harmonies on ‘Vertical Women’ show that the new tracks on offer are equally entertaining and receive an enthusiastic reaction from the crowd. ‘Stumble And Fall’ strikes a chord as a smiling Borell shows that he really can get over the breaks and we are relieved that he did so as the jangling guitar defies you not to dance to such a stupendously brilliant slice of indie rock. ‘Golden Touch’ causes a ripple of excitement across the crowd and the field is singing along as the sun starts to fade. Quickly realising one of the perils of reviewing a band that you love, having dropped my pen whilst wildly dancing to ‘Vice’, I bravely risk broken fingers to retrieve said implement and make my way to the press pit (in case of future pen catastrophes) during an extended version of ‘Looking For You’ that took me right back to Leeds Festival 2004 when I saw Razorlight perform in the early afternoon on the Main Stage and was exhilarated by the energy of the performance and the catchy choruses and chords of the tracks they performed.
Reaching a stage drenched in white lights and hearing the crowd clapping along, it is clear that the latest line up of Razorlight still have the exuberance evident in their early performances. The frenetic end has the crowd in raptures and I am just wondering how they can top that when Razorlight perform a funk rock version of Edwyn Collins ‘A Girl Like You’ with Borrel duelling with Freddie Stitz to make an awesome bass vs guitar sound. The epic set continues with ‘Before I Fall To Pieces’ which has the crowd singing along again and is performed riotously with the band clearly enjoying their performance and the crowd’s ecstatic reaction. The band are then bathed in purple and blue light as the gorgeous ‘Who Needs Love?’ echoes across the field. ‘Don’t Go Back To Dalston’ is performed in a frenzied fashioned with the crowd moshing along to the chorus and then there is time for one more sing along ‘Somewhere Else’ before the band leave the stage and the chants for an encore ensue.
Returning triumphantly to the stage, Razorlight give the festival crowd a real treat by revealing some new tracks. ‘Reveal Yourself’ is a beautiful ballad with a soaring vocal that kicks in to a stronger beat and shows that the upcoming album should see Razorlight back at the top of the charts. ‘Can’t Stop This Feeling I’ve Got’ is another real crowd pleaser followed by the new line up defining their own direction with bluesy rock ‘Dead Boy’ with its pounding beat and dark lyrical content. Rapidly followed by ‘Goodnight’ a frantic frenzy with a shouty chorus; it is clear that the rhythms of Razorlight’s current line up have plenty to entice new fans and retain their current audience. Finishing with the sublime ‘America’, Razorlight’s resurrection as a rock band is reaffirmed and we will be up all night celebrating!