REVIEW: Red Hot Chili Peppers help fans forget the mud at Leeds Festival
Torrential rain and muddy fields failed to put a dampener on Leeds Festival 2016, as rock legends Red Hot Chili Peppers added the exclamation point to a dazzling weekend of live music.
Their entertaining set featured songs from across a spectacular 30-plus year career, closing the show in style on Sunday evening and living up to lofty expectations.
Thousands from the region were there to see their performance plus four other headliners, including the impressive Biffy Clyro and Fall Out Boy on Friday night.
The slightly less triumphant double bill of Disclosure and Foals took to the main stage on Saturday, with music fans drenched by the worst weather at Bramham Park in years.
An all-star feast of alternative, rock and electronic music heroes - including indie pop band The 1975, hip-hop collective Boy Better Know and punk duo Slaves - also appeared across the three days.
Teesside band Mouses impressed a sizeable audience on Friday afternoon, winning over new fans before an appearance at sister festival Reading two days later.
Maxïmo Park and Coquin Migale also flew the flag for the North East, with two new tents including a wildly popular dance stage adding gloss to an already ambitious bill.
Yet most eyes were on the main stage, and for the first time Leeds featured five co-headliners, starting with Biffy Clyro and Fall Out Boy on the alt-rock-heavy first day of the festival.
The Virginmarys were the pick of the early performers and The Vaccines their usual entertaining selves in the early evening, but A$AP Rocky had to cancel a rare UK appearance due to traffic.
Billingham duo Mouses also made the most of the opportunity to play at Leeds, entertaining a good-sized crowd on the BBC Introducing stage at 3.30pm.
Frontman Steven Bardgett was less lively than usual - he didn't want to break his guitar ahead of Reading Festival - but the appearance won over many new fans to their cause and impressed the assembled national press.
US pop-punk heroes Fall Out Boy are one of the defining bands of their time, and their latest appearance at Leeds was a sparkling visual spectacle featuring dancers, acrobats and pyrotechnics.
It could have easily upstaged Biffy Clyro, but the Scottish rock band are A-list in their own right, and their catalogue of alt anthems doesn't require a flashy stage show.
With songs including Many Of Horror, Mountains and The Captain all on the set list, it was a headline performance of the highest quality, and local fans will be able to catch them at their newly-announced Newcastle Arena date on 2 December.
Both bands gave Saturday's headliners Foals and Disclosure a lot to live up to, with neither highly accustomed to topping the bill on such an illustrious stage.
The weather, which was at its worst and had many clamouring for cover in the evening, failed to help their cause and tempted many to favour the covered stages for Twenty One Pilots, Crystal Castles and Maxïmo Park.
But conditions were better earlier in the day, with Frank Turner opening the main stage with a typically raucous folk rock set, and Die Antwoord providing a curious, sweary twist in the afternoon.
Newcastle band Coquin Migale also headlined the BBC Introducing stage, hot on the heels of the release of their debut album Cargo.
Synthpop band CHVRCHES were their usual cheery selves in the early evening, just as the skies started to pour, with Foals following them onto the stage for their first headline spot at a top level UK festival.
Foals are always a brilliant live band, and this was no exception to that rule, although Yannis Philippakis' cries for "dirty pits" and crowd disorder seemed less well-heeded than usual.
Electronic duo Disclosure, meanwhile, unleashed the sort of set that would usually headline one of the supporting stages, not the festival's largest platform.
Their performance was assured enough and featured all of the hits, but as producers that often utilise guest vocalists, it felt like something was missing when - for example - a fill-in and not Sam Smith himself performed on Latch.
It was the weekend's only real misfire, and perhaps an experiment with a more commercial style of headline attraction that, on the day, just didn't quite work.
Sunday was a welcome return to form, with Red Hot Chili Peppers the most anticipated headliner ever since their appearance was announced.
Much earlier in the day Sundara Karma had opened the main stage, although their performance felt distant and bland, with Skindred and punk duo Slaves faring far better.
Promising bands including VANT - whose frontman Mattie Vant hails from Redcar - The Hunna offered an alternative elsewhere to a US rock-oriented main stage during the day.
Eagles of Death Metal were the biggest of those names, with their kitschy mixture of balls out rock-'n'-roll and lewd commentary from Jesse Hughes, before The Courteeners brought it back to British with a massive set greeted by dozens of flares.
It gave Imagine Dragons a hard act to follow, but their triumphant pop hit the mark and kept a growing crowd happy as the rain thankfully stayed away.
But it was Red Hot Chili Peppers that were always going to steal the headlines, making the latest stop on a world tour that has already checked into the UK this summer for T in the Park.
Reviews for that set were mixed, but this was a different show, featuring all the classics right from the opener of singalong hit Can't Stop.
Californation, Under The Bridge and By The Way was as good a trio of set closers as any band will ever be able to call upon, and all were performed with aplomb and energy.
And a two-song encore closed the show and Leeds Festival itself in inimitable style, matching the similar success of Metallica at Bramham Park in 2015.
As well as the headline names, the weekend was also a chance to catch the stars of tomorrow, with bands on the brink including Blossoms and Clean Cut Kid.
And Manchester band Cupids, sultry duo Lion Babe and rock bands Transviolet and Judas all impressed enough to suggest they could be the next big thing.
You Me At Six also returned to perform a not-so-secret set on the final day, having done the same at Reading earlier in the weekend, with Slaves one of a number to play more intimate sets on the BBC Introducing stage.
But the weekend belonged to Biffy Clyro, Fall Out Boy and the Chilis - and the Reading and Leeds organisers will find them tough acts to follow when booking the bands for 2017.