On Friday, August 25th, I had the joy of attending Leeds Festival 2023, where I was fortunate enough to witness performances by a lineup of beloved musicians. Among them were The Snuts, Bakar, Declan McKenna, Tom Odell, Steve Lacy, and last but certainly not least, the incomparable Billie Eilish. The festival marked the commencement of an exciting musical journey that left me captivated by the incredible talents of all of these musicians.
As the festival gates swung open, I found myself in the midst of an atmosphere pulsating with excitement and artistic anticipation. The stage was set for a plethora of exceptional performances, and I was poised to be enchanted by an array of gifted musicians who had gathered to grace this renowned platform.
After enduring a night of just four hours of sleep and embarking on a rather unconventional journey, which involved a partially spent ride in the back of a car boot (such are the lengths we go to for the love of live music), I eventually arrived at my intended destination by noon. Despite the unfortunate circumstance of not being in the best of health, Friday unfolded before me as a seemingly endless and arduous day. However, my determination remained unwavering, driven by the power to experience the climax of the event: the headlining performance by none other than the other-worldly, Billie Eilish.
As the clock struck half past nine that memorable night and the stage lights gradually dimmed, there was an electric anticipation in the air. Billie Eilish, the sensation of our time, vaulted onto the stage with her signature flair, setting the crowd into an ecstatic frenzy.
The opening chords of I Didn’t Change My Number was greeted by an ear-splitting array of screams from the enthralled audience. To my immense relief, a massive surge of adrenaline coursed through my veins, temporarily banishing the traces of unwellness that had plagued me earlier. In that moment, I found myself just as vocally exuberant as the rest of the packed-to-the-brim crowd.
Throughout the night, Billie delivered a mesmerising performance, showcasing a stunning repertoire of songs spanning her three albums. The set-list included crowd favourites such as You Should See Me In A Crown , Therefore I Am, My Strange Addiction, Copycat, TV (a personal favourite of mine), Oxytocin, and of course, the song that launched her to stardom, Ocean Eyes. A standout moment was when she seamlessly blended Ocean Eyes with Bellyache, a move that I personally found utterly delightful.
Billie also treated fans to a performance of What Was I Made For, a track that has gained much popularity, and as many might have noticed, even sparked a TikTok trend. In a delightful moment, Billie herself acknowledged the trend, letting out an endearing giggle as she shared a little “although enjoyment”.
In the middle of her set, Billie moved the audience with a poignant rendition of I Love You, which evoked genuine emotions and brought tears to many, myself included. Prior to performing the song, she delivered a heartfelt tribute to her brother and “best friend” Finneas, expressing her gratitude for the privilege of sharing the stage with him. It was a profoundly touching moment that resonated with all in attendance.
Additionally, Billie took a moment during the show to engage the audience in breathing exercises, creating a sense of unity and serenity among the mesmerised fans. To describe her presence as anything less than angelic would be an understatement. Billie Eilish truly radiated pure, ethereal energy throughout the evening.
As the night neared its conclusion, Billie saved two of her most iconic songs for last: the unmistakable hit, Bad Guy, and another one of my personal favourites, Happier Than Ever. However, it was during her final performance that the atmosphere truly reached its pinnacle. Moments before she departed the stage, a spectacular fireworks display erupted, igniting the spirits of the audience to their fullest and most exhilarating potential.
After bidding her farewells, Billie descended the stage steps with grace, reaching out to touch hands with the fortunate fans at the barrier. The crowd was ecstatic, longing for even a fleeting moment of Billie Eilish’s attention. The security guard attempted to escort her away, but she playfully and charmingly slipped away in order to show gratitude to fans. There’s no denying that Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas have a remarkable talent for delivering powerful and heartfelt performances. I can only hope for the opportunity to witness their live stage presence once again in the future!
Words by Emily Leonard.