'I was very confident about the bill': Melvin Benn talks Reading & Leeds' musical evolution

'I was very confident about the bill': Melvin Benn talks Reading & Leeds' musical evolution

Reading & Leeds boss Melvin Benn has told Music Week the dual event’s stellar ticket sales have vindicated its controversial 2018 line-up.

The bill was met with a mixed reaction when unveiled back in February, with some diehards claiming its multi-genre offering strayed too far from the festival’s rock roots. But the move has paid off handsomely, with all tickets for Reading selling out in advance and Leeds reporting its strongest sales in years.

“I was very confident about the bill,” said Festival Republic MD Benn. “I did get some criticism that there wasn’t enough guitar music on it, but I felt that we were reflecting not just what people were listening to, but also what, in some respects, is the new rock’n’roll.

“It’s never pleasant being criticised, but I was very happy with what we put together and, of course, selling out so comprehensively at Reading and having our best Leeds for a very long time. I can’t remember the last time we had a better Leeds, so we’re in good shape.”

Headlined by Fall Out Boy, Kendrick Lamar and Kings Of Leon, Reading & Leeds takes place from August 24-26. Other acts set to appear over the Bank Holiday weekend include Post Malone, Travis Scott, Wolf Alice, Panic! At The Disco, Dua Lipa, Courteeners, Skepta, The Kooks, The Vaccines, J Hus, Diplo, Sigrid and Krept & Konan.

Travis Scott is the most exciting live act in the world at the moment

Melvin Benn

“I’ve always been clear that Reading and Leeds don’t stand still,” said Benn. “I introduced the BBC Radio 1Xtra stage five or six years ago because clearly there was a demand for music that wasn’t dance or guitar, and hip-hop and grime had become more and more popular.

Travis Scott is the most exciting live act in the world at the moment – watching him gave me the same feeling as seeing Rage Against The Machine in 1996, with that punk attitude and voice. To see Travis at Reading & Leeds will be off the scale. These guys are the modern-day punks and poets – Post Malone is already among the poets of today’s generation.”

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