The city of Leeds is cold and wet, resembling a miserable winter’s day more than an evening in Spring. But in Oporto, a bar and live music venue in the lower end of the city, the atmosphere couldn’t be further from the glumness outside. As you step inside, the warmth coming from the people tightly packed in the venue hits you, before the intensity of people chatting at the bar, mixed with the sounds of support acts PEAKES and Diving Station, sets the mood for the evening.
The reason Oporto is full to the brim with people of varying ages is because Leeds 5-piece Heir are launching their latest single I’ll Pick You Up. The alternative pop band who formed in 2015 have had a successful couple of years, gaining support slots for the likes of Honne, Lawson and The Dunwells, and have recently been announced to perform at this year’s Live at Leeds Festival.
Tonight is the biggest night of Larkin’s career so far. The Manchester four-piece have successfully sold out the 700 capacity venue but most importantly, they’ve sold out their biggest headline show to date. As the audience gradually pile in, support acts The Nix and Corella give remarkable performances, setting the mood and getting the crowd excited and energised for the main event.
As the room darkens and the stage is lit with flashing strobe lights, Larkins file on one by one, picking up their instruments for opening number Velvet. For many bands, playing a headline sold out show would be a daunting prospect, but any nerves that may have been felt were kept firmly hidden. Velvet sets the bar high and the live performance is notably made better than the studio version by frontman Josh Noble’s vocal ad libbing between verses.
As the audience in the sold out arena chat amongst themselves, a breaking story from Wild World Communications hits the screen. No it’s not another update on the American Presidential Election, it’s breaking news that indie-pop band Bastille are about to take to the stage.
Whilst the news reporter continues, the instantly recognisable intro of Good Grief begins to reverberate around the room. It’s quite an achievement that with only two albums under their belt, Bastille are able to play sold out arena shows. But whilst it may seem like yesterday that their debut single Pompeii was being played on the radio, three years have since passed and it’s clear the band have been honing their skills all this time, proving why they deserve to be performing to crowds of this size.
Although the band are based in London, lead singer Dan Smith and keyboardist Kyle Simmons both attended Leeds University, so in some ways this is like a homecoming gig. “We’re back in our uni town and we’re so happy to be here,” proclaims Smith mid set. A reminder of how successful the band have become comes in the shape of Smith reminiscing about once playing the O2 Academy and Stylus, popular small venues in the city. But whilst the size of their audience may have increased over the years, the band are still as humble as when they first started. Smith continuously thanks the audience and appears taken aback by their enthusiastic response each time.
Screaming is part and parcel of going to a live show nowadays, but the sound that comes from inside Manchester Arena for 5 Seconds of Summer’s second night in the city is like nothing else.
The Australian four-piece have had a successful few years, having previously supported One Direction on two worldwide tours, gaining them a loyal fan base. Since then, the band have gone on to release two albums and play to larger audiences each year.
It’s no surprise then that as the lights come up and the band run on for opening song ‘Carry On’, the screaming from the thousands of adolescent girls gets unimaginably louder. Comments such as, “oh my god I get to hear my favourite songs live” can only just be heard over the crying and emotional displays from nearby girls.
It may be cold, windy and damp outside on the streets of Manchester, but inside the 250 capacity venue, the Deaf Institute, the temperature couldn’t be more different. With support act D/C setting the tone for the night with their soulful cool vibes and catchy pop riffs, the Atlantic Records signed singer gets the audience hot and sweaty ready for Anne-Marie, Rudimental’s main female vocalist, to set the stage.
Wasting no time, the three times world karate champion jumps straight in with the lead single off her first EP, Karate. Explaining how nervous she is about the opening night of her first solo tour, Anne-Marie shows little sign of it in her vocals, leading into the second track off her EP, Gemini, a heavily influenced 90s R&B track. Rounding up the EP with the first ballad of the night, Stole, Anne-Marie cannot help but well up – “that was quite emotional. I can’t help it. I always get a tear in my eye.”