Sunday morning arrived and it was with trepidation that we looked out. All week the forecast had been predicting heavy rain for the whole day. But when the day arrived, the high winds that had blasted the site on Saturday had also driven the worst of the rain northwards, so while the rest of the country struggled with wet weather, for 2013 the sun was again shining on the Isle of Wight Festival.
As we arrived on the site there was still a light sprinkling of rain falling, but not much to bother about, and by the time Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel took to the stage it had dried up completely. Steve's opening choice of song seemed to underline how lucky the festival was – 'Here Comes The Sun'. What followed next was an unashamedly crowd-friendly set, with only a few of his own songs, interspersed with some classic 60s tracks from the likes of The Kinks and The Beatles. While this years set didn't reach the same heights as his almost legendary 2005 festival set, it none-the-less gave everyone a good opportunity to sing along.
Having sung ourselves raw, we were in need of a drink, so headed towards the Kashmir Café for a pint of ale, performing there was Doug Alldred, a veteran of the local music scene, usually found playing drums for other bands. As a solo artist his sound is largely acoustic rock, but occasionally has a nod towards Roger Waters solo work.
With the time it takes to get back across site we were caught out by timings for Newton Faulkner who was now performing on main stage, so headed over instead to the Big Top to see Kodaline. At first they come across as yet another indie style band but listen a bit closer and an undercurrent of guitar riffs reminiscent of early Byrds reveals a fare more complex band than first appearance. They would certainly warrant another look if the chance arises.
Heading back across the site is was evident that the weather had drawn out a great many more festival latecomers for the afternoon and the arena was starting to fill up. One of the main draws of the day was the first performance in 27 years of the Boomtown Rats. Fronted by Sir Bob Geldof in mirrored sunglasses three hundred pound made to measure snake-skin suit (of which he was very proud and kept telling us so), he was every inch the rock star, snarling and posing his way around the stage just as he did when the band first started. Musically the band were as tight as ever, and the political situation having come full circle, meant that the Rats' songs about life in recession-hit, Tory governed Britain were just as poignant as they were 30 years ago – the seminal 'I Don't Like Mondays' stopping the entire crowd dead as it did at Live Aid when Geldof delivered the line "…and the lesson today is how to die." Overall the performance was easily the highlight of the day – something born out when the band were given an extra ten minutes on stage, even if it put out the timings for the rest of the day. This was a band that could easily have headlined the weekend. And while this was a festival exclusive (almost they are also playing Chagstock), I'd be surprised if you don't see them headlining festivals next year on the back of this show alone.
Following on from this was the ever-extravagant Paloma Faith, who today was almost conservative in her attire. Not a stranger to the Main Stage at Isle of Wight she opened by thanking them for the support shown to her two years ago when she openly admitted to not being in a good place. Paloma has a voice that cannot be mistaken and today she dedicated 'I'd Rather Go Blind' to her idol Etta James. I felt that today Paloma's performance was almost a little too relaxed, but this may have been because it followed the raw energy of the Boomtown Rats.
Deciding that with the crowds now in place it was almost too difficult to battle to and from the Big Top, we made ourselves comfortable, sitting and having a drink in the main arena to see The Script. This is a band that I really can't decide whether I like them or not, when I first heard them I was impressed, but the album and their previous two performances at the Isle of Wight Festival have left me cold, while Danny O'Donaghue seems more interested in his TV career than his musical one. Today lead singer Danny was full of energy and really had the crowd eating out of his hand. He even caught the security guards off-guard when he entered the crowd. The energy and appreciation from the crowd almost made me feel that I should revisit their albums and give them another chance.
Because of the overrun, it meant that the headliners Bon Jovi were also late taking to the stage, however as well as the 15 minutes general delay, there was an additional delay before they took to the stage about 20 past eight. I don’t know what it is about American artists but they seem to be able to up the ante at stadium shows in a way that few British bands seem to be able to, and as with The Killers last night, Bon Jovi are no exception. Jon Bon Jovi is a charismatic figure, and with film-star looks and dazzling white teeth in his smile he effortlessly worked the crowd, encouraging them to sing and clap along. False endings were aplenty, only to restart with short-acoustic versions of the same songs – which only ramped up the audience’s appreciation. Ironically the song that got the biggest response was a cover of Status Quo's 'Rockin' All Over The World'. Other big hits were all present, with the notable exception of their last major hit, the power ballad 'Always'. After playing for about an hour and three quarters they went off just after 10pm, and after a five minute light show, came back for an encore that probably got those who enjoyed Bruce Springsteen's epic encore last year excited at the thought of another epic encore, seeing as they were billed to play for three hours. However they were to be disappointed, as after performing 'Wanted Dead or Alive' and 'Living on a Prayer' they were gone again, not to return. Given the billed length of the show, this left a lot of people, myself included, feeling a bit robbed. While a two-hour set is still reasonable, if it's billed as three hours, you expect to get that. Even the festival organisers were caught out by the end of the show, as there was a lull before the traditional end of festival firework display. It was a shame as this was the only down side of what was otherwise an excellent closing set from a band who know how to give a show.
While 2013 won't go down in history as a classic year for the Isle of Wight Festival music wise, I’m sure many people will fondly remember it as the first dry festival for three years – especially festival organiser John Giddings - who, after last year's bad press is probably glad it was at least remembered for the music, rather then the problems.
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