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Leeds Festival 2019: The Distillers roll back the years with blistering performance

Venerable US punk outfit, The Distillers, are a year older than Leeds Fest, having been formed in LA, in 1998, by Aussie firecracker, Brodie Dalle, who deftly fronts the band on lead vocals and rhythm guitar. 

Admittedly, their history does include a hiatus of a dozen years—finally cementing their adoring public’s hopes and dreams by reforming in 2018.

The prolonged layoff meant that this was the band’s first UK appearance in more than 15 years—and even that had been in serious doubt following the serious hand injuries and concussion suffered by heavily bearded drummer, Andy Granelli, in a gruesome recent bike accident.

But the show must go on—and it did, complete with recovering sticksman anchoring the scorching set impeccably.

Well worth fans’ long wait and their anxiety over his health, The Distillers were a crowd fave from the moment they hit the main stage—somewhere mid table in the billing. 

Taking a snapshot of opinion from randomly chosen fellow audience members, this was clearly one of the events of the whole three days for many people—including yours truly, who had always conspired to miss them in the noughties.

Peeling off a succession of short sharp rockers from their tremendous (but limited—only three albums to date) hardcore and street punk catalogue, the seasoned troupe quickly had us dancing ‘til we dropped, shouting ourselves hoarse and clapping hands ‘til they sizzled.

Presiding over the raucous proceedings was the statuesque Dalle, looking every inch the sophisticated muse of a randy old painter in ironically tacky leopard skin top and matching guitar strap. 

Easily one of the best front women in history, the fender is slung low, the attitude is notched up to the max and the uniquely gruff voice unmistakable. The only fault you can find with this bad ass and her terrific band is their lack of productivity, both in the studio and on the road.

With a new album promised next year to boost the sluggish output—and, we can but hope, a proper tour to follow—an early return to Leeds would be very welcome news for the delighted thousands who were lucky enough to witness their triumphant return to these shores. 

Further up the bill, mind. Definitely further up the bill.

The Distillers Setlist Leeds Festival 2019:

  1. ‘Sick of It All
  2. ‘Hall of Mirrors’
  3. ‘Dismantle Me’
  4. ‘Coral Fang’
  5. ‘Seneca Falls’
  6. ‘I Am a Revenant’
  7. ‘Die on a Rope’
  8. ‘Beat Your Heart Out’
  9. ‘City of Angels’
  10. ‘Drain the Blood’
  11. ‘The Hunger’