Stevie Wonder calls to say he loves Bestival

Bestival 2012 review

published: Wed 12th Sep 2012

Stevie Wonder

Thursday 6th to Sunday 9th September 2012
Robin Hill Country Park, Downend, Nr Arreton, Isle of Wight, PO30 2NU, England MAP
£180 for Thu-Sun - camping sold out, premium camping £299
daily capacity: 50000
last updated: Thu 6th Sep 2012

around the festival site (2)
As we head into the final day of Bestival 2012, the sun is still shining, but there is more of a breeze to help cool those few weary heads who had ventured out on Sunday morning around the site. However as we made our way over to the Bollywood field it become evident how many people were already in the main arena for the day's offerings. I have to admit that today's line-up featured very few real 'need to see' acts, but this just mean that we were free to wander and see what we came across, which to be honest is the best way to do Bestival, as it's the smaller areas that often create the best and occasionally strangest moments.

One such moment was found in the roller disco, where Mr. Motivator was in full energetic swing, and a crowd both off and on roller skates, I can't say that it inspired me to join in the fitness routines though – I might have spilled my beer! We set off again through the Ambient Forest, this time taking a different route, and finding yet another new addition for this year. The Amphitheatre is nestled under a canopy of trees and over the course of the weekend was the venue for lectures, poetry and spoken word.

Tir Eolas
As always a walk through the ambient forest inevitably leads to the Tomorrow's World Field - and the WI Tent. So it was armed with tea and cake that we sat down to enjoy the chilled atmosphere currently around the Bandstand. Tir Eolas, a traditional Irish folk band, whose gentle melodies were perfect to relax to while summoning the energy to survive the rest of the day.

At this point the sun decided that we had been blessed for long enough this weekend and took up residence behind a cloud, but although the brightness came to an end the party spirit continued. Keeping the temperatures raised at the Bandstand was Pauline Henry, formerly of The Chimes, playing a mix of old Chimes tracks and new material.

around the festival site (4)
Making our way back to the main arena Magical Meadow and stumbled upon what appeared to be at first glance a massive mechanical insect, I want to say spider, but fortunately it had only six legs and moved at a very slow pace. Closer inspection revealed it to be a vehicle, that felt like it should be exploring the surface of Mars rather than a festival on the Isle of Wight. I don't think that they'll ever replace the car as a mode of transport, but it was fascinating to watch as it ambled it's way across the site.

Another hidden gem was found at the Alfresco Stage for the end of the 'swing parlour'. There have been many dancing sessions on site over the weekend, but this was the first that we had come across, and enjoyed a Lindy Hop dance competition, pairing festival goers with trained dancers, who were given ten minutes to come up with a routine. As you can guess, enthusiasm was more on show than technical skill, but everyone seemed to enjoy and it certainly keep the dancers warm.

With our destination set as main stage, we had another detour to the Replay stage just to see what was on, this has to be my favourite area of the weekend, with many great bands performing, a certain success for the festival, yes please to more of this in the future please Rob da Bank. This time however we saw Palma Violets – possibly the one bad act over the weekend. Actually to say they were bad is to do them a disservice, as they were pretty proficient as musicians, but had spent a long time listening to The Clash, thought "we like that", and started playing like The Clash, the trouble is that's where they stopped, which would have been fine if they were a Clash tribute act, but just felt like something was missing from the performance.

Bat For Lashes
On the main stage another Bestival regular Bat For Lashes were performing. Natasha Khan looked like she had turned up wearing one of the teepees from the boutique campsite, but her performance was one of the highlights of the weekend. She apologised that the sun had gone in and suggested that perhaps everyone should share a hug to keep warm – I don't know how many took her up on the suggestion, but I think the warmth of feeling towards the band was probably enough to sustain them.

King Charles
Speaking of warmth towards an act, if that happened then Replay would have gone up in smoke given the warmth towards King Charles. They are a band that have been around for a couple of years now, and every time I see them they have got better as a group. I feel sure that it won't be long before we see mainstage performance from this band.

One of the most eagerly awaited sets of the weekend was from Sigur Ros, whose anthemic and uplifiting music even managed to coax the sun back out from behind the clouds for a sunset almost as beautiful as the bands songs. The band have said that they were dissatisfied with the performance for several reasons, and stopped it from being broadcast on Youtube, but I thought that they sounded pretty magnificent.

Stevie Wonder
As the night closed in we were left with a bit of a quandary as the first real clash of the weekend manifested itself full-on in the form of Main Stage headliner Stevie Wonder, verses space-rockers Spiritualized. In the end we decided to split the show in two, and having caught the start of Stevie, we headed over to the Big Top, then return to the end of Stevie's show. Stevie was certainly deserving of his status as headliner, what we saw was pretty stunning and flawless, for a man with almost 50 years of music behind him he is still as vibrant and talented as ever Even the Casio era song 'I Just Called To Say I Love You' sounded fantastic. The main arena was packed and it seemed that the entire site had turned out to see him, a fact born out when we sent to see Spiritualized to find the Big Top barely one tenth full. Despite the small audience the band also put on a fantastic show, just a shame that no-one was their to see it!

Planning their timing a little better was Friendly Fires, as their set started just as Stevie was finishing, resulting an a large crowd as thousands moved back up the hill to see them. If you've never seen Friendly Fires, then I urge you to do so, as they are probably one of the most energetic and exciting bands playing today, even if frontman Ed Macfarlane's dancing does at times resemble an embarrassing dad at a wedding.

For those who still had some party left in them, the smaller stages went on for another few hours, but we were fading and so decided to call it a night. This years Bestival has to be one of the best ever, with some fantastic performances and a few surprises in unexpected places. There's a lot of love that goes into the planning of the weekend from Rob Da Bank and his team, and it shows across the whole weekend. The only question is how can they top this next year?

around the festival site (2)
review by: Steve Collins / Marie Magowan

photos by: Steve Collins

Thursday 6th to Sunday 9th September 2012
Robin Hill Country Park, Downend, Nr Arreton, Isle of Wight, PO30 2NU, England MAP
£180 for Thu-Sun - camping sold out, premium camping £299
daily capacity: 50000
last updated: Thu 6th Sep 2012

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