Reading and Leeds festival 2021 Review

by Chris Balding

The Reading and Leeds Festival is a right of passage for music loving teens and was finally back on the cards after being cancelled due to Covid last year. Although attendees had to take lateral flow tests it was very much business as usual for the 75,000 strong crowd as there was no social distancing that had to take place meaning everyone could just focus on having a good time. You wouldn’t of known we were in a pandemic except for the ‘F**K Covid’ chants. 

The lineups aren’t what you would usually expect to see at Reading and Leeds but the atmosphere remained the same. The headliners for the festival catered to everyone instead of being predominantly rock with performances from Biffy Clyro, Post Malone, Catfish & The Bottleman, Disclosure, Liam Gallagher and Stormzy showcasing how the festival has evolved. 

Biffy Clyro returned to headline the festival once again after being a late replacement for Queens of the Stone Age but this wasn’t a poor substitute as the crowd fully got behind the band as they did back in 2001 as the crowd sang along with the Scottish band. 

Credit: Andy Ford for NME

It wasn’t all about the headliners though as the new wave of talent The Kid LAROI, Yungblud and Youtube star turned artist KSI drew some of the biggest crowds which is a reflection of how the crowd has changed at the festival. 

Sam Fender was another act that delivered the goods with a powerful performance that is full of emotion with the stories he tells through his music, rightly earning the nickname ‘Geordie Springsteen’.

Credit: Emma Viola Lilja

Rappers Stormzy and AJ Tracey were the showcasing acts for the Grime genre putting on high energy displays that hyped up the crowd creating a party atmosphere which is really impressive seeing as Stormzy hasn’t performed since Glasto 2019. 

Credit: Patrick Gunning

A scotts favourite Liam Gallagher put on quite a show for the audience who many were yet to be born when Oasis were together, lucky for them he pulled out all the Oasis favourites which in turn produced quite a singalong. He once again put any hopes of a reunion on pause as he referred to his brother as the little fella when saying “Obviously the little fella is still sulking somewhere”. The performance was topped off when Liam performed ‘Live Forever’ which was dedicated to late Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts as his image was projected onto the big screen.

Credit: Shutterstock

The only headliner that was a little bit disappointing was Post Malone. It wasn’t that he gave a bad performance, it was more down to his slower pace of music that wasn’t in the right setting. He was the only American headliner at the festival as Doja Cat, Queens of the Stone Age and Machine Gun Kelly all dropped out due to Covid concerns. 

One of the performances of the weekend came from festival favourites Disclosure, whose big beats and theatrical light displays had the crowd jumping not to mention they had live percussionists and a brass section to add to the mix creating a rave that you could tell was well overdue.

Credit: Andy Ford

Even though this year festival has come to an end tickets for next year have been released with Reading & Leeds festival boss Melvin Benn telling NME that “three of the six headliners are in place” ready for next year and teasing us by saying “some of them have guitars” and one of them has definitely headlined before.

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