Posts Tagged ‘Live at Leeds’

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We’re so excited to welcome back Aussie modern rock heroes DMA’S & Electrifying Manchester indie-pop quartet PALE WAVES! This year also sees the return of Leicester’s Easy Life fresh from a huge UK tour, as well as folk-punk provocateur Ezra Furman. Plus we’ve got psych heroes Temples, Bristol’s favourite sibling fronted band Bad Sounds, former Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess & pop songstress SELF ESTEEM all just added for next year!

We’ve announced over 50 artists today and there’s still loads more to come from the Best Festival For Emerging Talent – Over 200 artists, 20+ venues, all across Leeds on Saturday 2nd May!

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Mobile recording studios have a longer history than you might think. As early as the 1920s, record companies in both the U.K. and the U.S. were experimenting with location recording, albeit with incredibly primitive equipment. This was the pre-magnetic tape era, after all.

In the U.K., the pioneer was EMI, closely followed by its chief rival, Decca. The purpose, for the most part, was to record live concerts of classical music, and while the equipment changed out of recognition during the following 30 years or so, that purpose remained: to capture live performances.

By the time rock music arrived around the mid ’60s, a new generation of mobile studios appeared that would capture some of the most important recordings of the era. And curiously, most of them were not recordings of live gigs. That was because the mobile studio soon became used as much for the freedom it offered artists to record in domestic locations as for capturing their stage performances.

Digital technology has helped bring about the demise of the mobile truck since the turn of the millennium. Now, artists can of course record on devices as small as an iPad (to name but one famous example, Damon Albarn recorded the Gorillaz album The Fall in just that way). Even if you don’t want to be quite as stripped-down as Albarn, a laptop armed with plugins and a small digital mixer can offer almost as much as a fully fledged mobile studio at far less cost.

However, before the mobile trucks rumbled off into the distance, the freedom they provided in that short period produced some remarkable recordings. Here are six of them.

The Who, Live at Leeds (1970)

This album, still regarded by many critics as the finest live rock LP ever, was originally designed to be Live at Hull and Leeds. It was recorded by the Pye Records mobile on eight-track analogue tape machines installed beneath the auditorium in a cloakroom. At this stage, mobile trucks were used simply to carry recording equipment to a gig. That equipment then had to be removed, assembled, and used in whatever space could be found.

With nothing more than split cables from the vocal, speaker, and drum microphones, the two recordings were plagued with technical problems. Some of the bass track from Hull was lost, and the Leeds concert suffered from crackles, which have caused controversy ever since. Years later, when the crackles were erased using digital wizardry, some fans objected that they removed the authenticity of the recordings.

Originally released as a single six-track vinyl LP, Live At Leeds has since appeared in many incarnations, some with and some without the infamous crackles. The Hull gig recorded the night before (February 13th) has been released, too, with John Entwistle’s missing bass parts replaced with carefully synced recordings from Leeds. There are those who claim that Live At Hull 1970 is even better than the raw and powerful Live At Leeds. They can both be heard on the 40th Anniversary collectors’ edition.

Led Zeppelin, IV (1971)

You could toss a coin over whether Led Zeppelin’s III or IV was the more significant album, but it doesn’t really matter for our purposes—both made very extensive use of the Rolling Stones Mobile (RSM) and were released before two other other landmark RSM recordings, the Stones’ Exile On Main St. and Deep Purple’s Machine Head.

A former 18th-century poorhouse, Headley Grange in Hampshire was the chosen venue, as it had been for much of Zeppelin III. The majestic sound of John Bonham’s drums—sampled a thousand times and still used today—was created in wood-paneled Headley Grange with a pair of distant Neumann condenser mics. It has probably never been equalled.

The Rolling Stones, Exile On Main St. (1972)

Just as The Who’s Live At Leeds is regarded by some as their finest hour, so the Stones’ Exile On Main St. stands as a testament to the band at its peak—even if a wobbly one at times.

In 1970, Mick Jagger bought Stargroves, a country house in Hampshire. The band’s pianist and tour manager, Ian Stewart, suggested that in order to make full use of it, they needed their own mobile studio. This saw the birth of the most famous truck of them all, the Rolling Stones Mobile. It is one of the few things you can use the word legendary about without risk of exaggeration.

Unlike earlier trucks, the Stones Mobile had a control room inside the vehicle, so it really could go anywhere and do almost anything. The band used it to record most of the Sticky Fingers album, and a year later, beset with taxation problems, they decamped to the Villa Nellcôte in the South of France, with the RSM following.

The sessions that followed have become the stuff of rock legend and lore. Beside the technical problems imposed by an unsuitable recording environment—a cramped, damp basement—and compounded by an erratic power supply, the band’s “personal issues” should have made the resulting album a shambles. Indeed, engineer Andy Johns described them as “the worst band in the world” for much of the time. But somehow, in true Stones fashion, what emerged from the chaos was one of rock’s most memorable and charismatic albums. It just reeks of authenticity thanks, at least in part, to the location and the way in which most of it was recorded.

Deep Purple, Machine Head 1972

If Exile On Main St. really put the Stones Mobile on the map, it was Deep Purple who immortalized it in “Smoke On The Water.” The song recalls the night in 1971 when the Casino in Montreux, Switzerland burned down following a gig by Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention.

The plan had been to record the next Deep Purple album in the Casino, but the fire put paid to that. A couple of other venues in the town were hastily found for the recording sessions, which produced, among others, “Smoke On The Water,” the lyrics of which refer to the RSM as “the Rolling truck Stones thing.”

The Who, Quadrophenia 1973

On the face of it, this seems an unlikely album to have emerged from a mobile studio, and in fact it was made at an unlikely location, too. Ronnie Lane’s Mobile (known as the LMS) was parked in Battersea, south-west London for much of the recording of Quadrophenia, in an urban jungle outside a still uncompleted Ramport Studios, which The Who were in the process of building.

Ronnie Lane, the ex-Faces bass player, had chosen an American Airstream trailer for his mobile studio, and Bad Company, Led Zeppelin (notably on Physical Graffiti), Rick Wakeman, and Eric Clapton were just some of the musicians who would make excellent use of it. Of all the British golden-era mobiles, Lane’s was one of the most successful.

Radiohead, OK Computer 1997

There were many impressive albums recorded using mobile studios between The Who’s Live At Leeds in 1970 and Radiohead’s OK Computer in 1997, and there were more mobiles than we have space to include here, among them Jethro Tull’s Maison Rouge, Virgin’s Manor Mobile, and Mickie Most’s RAK.

By the late ’90s, however, the era of the truck was coming to an end—and OK Computer provides fitting mood music. Relatively inexpensive and highly portable digital equipment and computers meant that the need for a large studio on wheels was passing.

In fact, OK Computer wasn’t recorded using a truck at all, but it epitomizes why mobile trucks had been so popular: location recording enabled a band to work at their own pace, in their own way, in an environment completely unlike an essentially sterile fixed-site studio.

For this album, which Rolling Stone described as “the last masterpiece of the alt-rock movement,” Radiohead were given a reputed £100,000 by their record company. Their producer Nigel Goodrich used it to buy recording equipment for use in St Catherine’s Court, a spectacular manor house near Bath in Somerset, owned at the time by actress Jane Seymour. In the same way that the natural acoustics of Headley Grange helped Led Zeppelin achieve astonishing looseness, vitality, and depth, so St Catherine’s Court added its brooding presence to a haunted, dark, and troubled album.

One thing binds together the albums featured here: none of them could have been made in a traditional fixed-location recording studio. In the case of recordings of gigs, it’s obvious why that should be. But a common quality shared by the albums featured here is the live ambience of an environment that wasn’t carefully designed to sound neutral. In the age of Pro Tools sameness, that is definitely something to be cherished.

There is another angle, too. Musicians often complain that “clocking in” to record every day is too much like going to work, especially in a traditional city-center studio. In a residential location, they can not only experiment with different sounds but also socialize and make music in a freer and more creative way. You may not be able to quantify that.

Live at Leeds Festival have added further artists to our 2018 line-up, huge additions including:

The Vaccines, Idles, CABBAGE, Nadine Shah, Rae Morris, Superorganism and Bad Sounds.

They and around 70 artists will join the already announced Ash, Sunset Sons, Pulled Apart by Horses, Dermot Kennedy, Circa Waves, Peace, British Sea Power, and The Horrors on 5th May in Leeds City Centre. Live at Leeds is the ultimate place to hear the essential new sounds of 2018, join us on Saturday 5th May- we’re sure you will find your new favourite band!

Check out all the artists on our Artists page, where we have social and listening links on every artist on the line-up. Live at Leeds is part of Leeds International Festival.

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47 years ago tonight, The Who performed at Leeds University in Leeds, UK on February. 14th, 1970. The recording of this landmark concert became known as the greatest live album in Rock history

Classic Rock photographer Ross Halfin is an avid record collector – especially when it comes to The Who. He owns multiple versions of the band’s classic Live At Leeds album, and here he tells us through ten different versions of them.

The Who’s “Live At Leeds” is among the greatest live rock album of all time, The original on vinyl is way better than the uncut, remastered version, which is too much. It goes on for too long. The original edit by Pete Townshend captures all the dynamics of The Who as a band. And the vinyl release sounds better.

In England, there were three variants of “Live At Leeds”. The first came out with a black-stamp cover, and the first 1,000 copies of it had the ‘Maximum R&B’ poster from The Who at the Marquee [in 1964] inside. There have been versions with blue stamps and red stamps as well.”

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There have been Taiwanese versions, Spanish versions, a Peruvian version with a picture of Townshend jumping on the cover… The critic Nik Cohn, who inspired Pinball Wizard and wrote the article that became Saturday Night Fever, reviewed “Live At Leeds” for the New York Times, and called it a “hard rock holocaust”. The hardest version to find, then, is the one that came out in Israel with Cohn’s quote translated into Hebrew on the cover. It had to be withdrawn.

Since its initial reception, Live at Leeds has been cited by several music critics as the best live rock recording of all time


The forthcoming The Who “Live at Leeds” vinyl reissue will be a three-LP package that features the FULL setlist, as played on the night.  The Who booked two shows, one at the University of Leeds for February. 14th and a second in Hull the next day, and would choose the songs from there. Unfortunately, there were technical problems with the Hull recording — John Entwistle’s bass was inaudible on the first six songs — and they were forced to use just the one concert.

They couldn’t be bothered to trawl through the recordings from the US tour so they decided to record the Leeds and Hull gigs and release the best. The Hull recording was unusable, because the cable connecting the bass guitar to the tape recorder didn’t work. That left Leeds. The three-hour concert took place on Valentine’s day 1970. Students queued for hours to get a ticket and many who failed took to the roof of the building that evening to hear and feel the music.

Townshend joked: “We decided before that we were going to put it out whatever. It was lucky it was good”.

As it turned out the recording was more than good: it was phenomenal and would become one of the most successful live albums of all time.  the tapes caught the Who at their absolute best. The original release clocked in at just under 38 minutes and featured only seven songs. This will be a half-speed mastered 33RPM pressing and unlike the two-CD deluxe edition issued in 2001, this new vinyl release will feature the 33-song set in the order that the songs were performed on the night (Valentine’s Day 1970!)

This is packaged as a six-panel gatefold with three inner bags. SDE ran a deal alert for this last week (now finished), but even the non-deal price of £25 in the UK is pretty good for a triple vinyl, half-speed mastered set that celebrates this landmark live album.

This will be released on 25th November 2016

On the 14th February 1970, The Who appeared at the University Refectory at University of Leeds  England. The show was recorded for the bands forthcoming ‘Live At Leeds’ album. Since its initial reception, Live at Leeds has been cited by several music critics as the best live rock recording of all time. The University of Leeds refectory, has now been named a national landmark in the UK, commemorated with a blue plaque. It was the only live album that was released while the group were still actively recording and performing with their best known line-up of Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle and Keith Moon.

Two shows were consequently scheduled, one at the University of Leeds and the other in Hull, for the express purpose of recording and releasing a live album. The Leeds concert was booked and arranged by Simon Brogan who later became an assistant manager on tour with Jethro Tull. The shows were performed on 14th February 1970 at Leeds and on 15th February 1970 at Hull, but technical problems with the recordings from the Hull gig — the bass guitar had not been recorded on some of the songs — made it all the more necessary for the show from the 14th to be released as the album.

Live at Leeds has been cited as the best live rock recording of all time, Recorded at Leeds University on 14th February 1970 on Pye Mobile Unit.



Come the early May Bank Holiday weekend next year, Live at Leeds will be celebrating its 10th anniversary. And looking ahead to what promises to be its biggest and best event yet, the award winning metropolitan festival has just announced the first seven acts who will be appearing in 2016.

With two solo No. 1 singles and a high-flying debut album already to her name, Jess Glynne is quickly establishing herself as a bona fide pop star. Joining her at Live at Leeds will be the American indie-rockers We Are Scientists, Circa Waves from Liverpool and the Southampton rock trio Band of Skulls.

Staying true to its ethos of promoting emerging talent alongside more established national and international names, Live at Leeds will next year also bring us Rat Boy, Clean Cut Kid and Barns Courtney. Many more exciting acts will be announced in the weeks and months ahead.

When the full list is complete, and based upon last year’s festival, Live at Leeds will be hosting some 200 acts at 20 venues dotted across the length and breadth of this great West Yorkshire city.

In other news, Live at Leeds reveals it will be bringing a brand new digital programme to the event. Working in partnership with the Leeds Digital Festival this separately ticketed event will take place in the five days prior to the music (25th – 29th April).

Tickets, which are already flying out of the door, are available at Tier one prices until the end of the year. Priced at £30 + booking fee (for Saturday’s main wristbanded event), they can be purchased here

Physical tickets can be bought from Jumbo Records, Crash Records and more.

The main live music programme at Live at Leeds 2016 will be held on Saturday 30th April. Additional information about the festival can be found on the official website


This weekend I shall be in Leeds again for the Live at Leeds event, so to get ourselves  so excited about the band Yak here they take today’s Track of the Day slot.

The first song released from their forthcoming EP ‘Plastic People’ Yak are starting to hit all the notes we said they could as they live up to the hype and murder the naysayers. ‘Smile’  Catalogue Yak next to Fat White Family but be careful, with that much grease, scuzz and electricity in one area you are bound to have a fire hazard.

‘Smile’ is a slithering sex-pest of a song as it snakes its way across the glass-shimmering dance-floor it reeks of cheap aftershave and the underlying stench of fear permeates the air. It then delivers like a blast of noise that would leave a pensioner in piss as we all gathered round to watch. Check their tour dates here

08/04 Birmingham, The Rainbow (w/ Superfood)
09/04 London, Heaven (w/ Superfood)
29/04 London, St Moritz
30/04 Nottingham, Bodega Social Club May
01/05 Manchester, Soup Kitchen
05/05 Newcastle, Cluny 2
06/05 St Albans, The Horn
08/05 Bristol, Louisiana
09/05 Exeter, Cavern
13/05 London, St Moritz

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