Jumping on the ferry from Portsmouth Harbour to Ryde was unlike most average days for the Isle Of Wight locals, instead of everyday commuters there were bundles of enthusiastically awaiting festival goers. The whole place was buzzing with excitement of the 65,000 visitors that had suddenly once again swamped the very timid Isle of Wight. Instead of OAPs and their triangle sandwiches/packed lunches, there were Boys with their camping backpacks and gadgets and girls in the latest festival fashion clobber all eager and waiting to be transported by coaches to the festival hotspot.
What was once an iconic festival back in the late 60's and 70's, for its legendary performances (to name only a few) from Jimi Hendrix, The Who and The Doors, had now been re-launched and revived as a fresh and exciting music weekend, since 2002. The line-up was diverse to say the least, comments had been made as to why Xfactor winner Alexandra Burke was performing but this was evened out with musical icons like Jeff Beck, Iggy Pop and even a bit of the silver fox himself Tom Jones. On arrival the sun was out and people were setting up their tents and getting ready to head on into the main site for an evening of music goodies. The weekend kicked off with the flamboyant musical delights of Mr Boy George who entertained early campers at the Big Top tent, with his popular tracks karma chameleon and Do you want to hurt me. Whether you were sipping a pimms and lemonade or cocktails in the late evening sun, it was the ideal way to start the pre festival party.
Whilst Boy George filled the air everybody wanted to explore, the decorations that the festival had were fantastic, from tall red flowers and bees along the fences to colourful flags. A wide range of food and drink was available, with even a Costa coffee van for all those business folk who couldn’t cope without their caffeine kick each morning. There was nothing the organisers had missed. Each stage was interesting in its own way, and had a line up which all festival visitors were looking forward to.
Kaiser Chiefs warmed up the Friday evening stage before Kings of Leon.... I say warmed up but it was strictly Luke warm. There wasn't too much to report other than the majority of the crowd could still remember the lyrics of 'Ruby' and 'I predict a riot', other than that not much else. The stage presence was a little dull but I’m sure it’s an acquired taste, it just wasn't a show stopper and I’m still intrigued to know why they were but on just before Kings of Leon? Maybe it was a strategy plan to make the headliner look really good. who knows but it worked.
Headlining on Friday was the anticipated Kings of Leon, unknown to all how good the set and the performance would be, the boys certainly tried hard to squash any questions as to why they were there. They gave the audience exactly what they'd be craving, ultimately finishing off with 'Use Somebody' and 'Sex is on fire' which overplayed as they were, got the audience chanting those well known lyrics back, ultimately going out with a bang thus making the crowd feel like they'd stood waiting for a reason.
Saturday was good from the word go, the sun was out and all people spoke about was the fact the Foo Fighters were headlining. However, there was plenty to keep everyone entertained until then. The 80’s tunes of Mike & the Mechanics provided nostalgic feelings followed by the beautiful Lissie who charmed the crowd with her sensational songs, whilst many folk ate, drank and were merrily enjoying such a beautiful summers day. Mr Tom Jones followed on from Chase & Status on the Big Top tent, and was positively the sex bomb that he had been labelled as. Showing that age isn’t everything, he really wooed the crowd with some old hits and some of his newer tracks to get everybody dancing along. This was certainly the case when ‘Leave your hat on’ started flowing across the tent.
One very entertaining highlight of the day was of course Seasick Steve, for the 70 year old man who appeared on BBC news last week telling all about his album ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ definitely showed the reason for his popularity with tune ‘Thunderbirds’. He later watched from the VIP stands as Dave Grohl shouted out to him, as he once queued for hours to see Dave in his first band Nirvana. The Foo fighter’s certainly did steal the show from other headlining bands over the weekend. Effortlessly firing straight into an amazing set, of tracks of emotional rollercoaster to those of a roaring rock head banging nature, these boys had clearly done this a few times before. Dave Grohl highlighting that ‘this band don’t use computers’ making them all the more cool for being a ‘proper’ band unlike many in the music business today. Grohl soon pointed out they didn’t do encores and gave the crowd just what they’d been lusting for... the single most amazing performance of ‘All My Life’ which of course got everyone jumping about everywhere, screaming the lyrics back.
Final day started more miserable than ever expected, all falsely led to believe we were in for another scorcher of a day... How wrong could we be. It rained non-stop from the word go. It didn’t faze many as the crowd to the main stage stood out in the pouring rain to watch some of the best bands. The eco friendly event that the festival is, had many ways to recycle. One was with the help of Coca Cola who were collecting plastic bottles in exchange for freebies, one of those was a poncho. It’s obvious to say they went in a heartbeat once the rain had started. The entire festival was encouraging such an eco-friendly message, bikes that helped charge mobile phones, money for collecting paper cups, and even the H&M tent was there again to launch its brand new eco range of clothing.
Pixie Lott graced the stage in a blue summery outfit (and with a fantastic figure!), which was highly unfit for the torrential rain that was drenching all stood watching. She was upbeat, bubbly, and certainly proved the reason she was on the main stage. Giving a fantastic justified version of Adele’s hit ‘Someone like you’ along with many of her other chart hits. If nothing more she certainly gave the gentleman in the audience something to look at! Soon followed The Script who ventured out into the crowd and got soaked, just to show how much they appreciated people coming out in the rain to see them. This lightened the mood for all those washed up looking people who had been stood for hours. Liam Gallagher shot onto the stage in a Union Jack jacket with his latest project Beady Eye, which were good but disappointingly the tracks didn’t have the same spark Oasis ones did...thus no sing-along’s for Liam from the wet crowd.
Next and finally the eagerly awaited Kasabian, the Leicester lads who had taken the charts by storm were headlining the Sunday night. Wooing a full audience, it was certainly a bit different from their early days performing at the little venue in Leicester, The Half Time Orange. Tom took to the stage and immediately enticed the crowd with his fantastic stage persona. Giving the mass exactly what they’d asked for, the guys dug out some old goodies along with teasing tracks from the new album Velociraptor. There was even a surprise appearance from Noel Fielding during Vlad the Impaler, which quickly got the crowd, laughing, smiling and singing all the more louder. Tom was definitely a true show man emphasizing his love for those drowned rats in the audience (and various ladies), he had the entire audience charmed with everything he was doing from the word go. Some incredible electro, excitable versions of 'LSF', and ' Shoot The Runner' forced the life back into those watching. Tom made a great point of getting everyone to perfect their ‘Ooo’s’ of the track ‘Fire’ making sure it was chanted back correctly. The guys certainly did being the last band on the main stage utter justice.
After everyone continued to chant Kasabian lyrics at each other on the mudslide back to the campsite, the sounds of the Manic Street Preachers singing ‘You stole the sun from my heart’ started all soggy music fans to recite the ever so real lyrics all the way back to their tents.
All in all, the weekend was exactly what was expected from a festival. We had rain, we had shine and we had some of the best music that could have possibly been on offer. An eco friendly, happy festival that would certainly get me going back another year. A fantastic line up, with a superb outcome.
Well done Isle of Wight
P.s I'll be better equipt for the weather next year.