Amy Winehouse proves to be uncomfortable viewing in the rain at Bestival

Bestival 2008 review

published: Thu 11th Sep 2008

Amy Winehouse

Friday 5th to Sunday 7th September 2008
Robin Hill Country Park, Downend, Nr Arreton, Isle of Wight.. PO30 2NU, England MAP
£130 w/e with camping, aged 13-16 £65, under 13 FREE but ticket needed - SOLD OUT
last updated: Mon 1st Sep 2008

Saturday dawned a little lighter and brighter, the sun making short but welcome efforts to peep out from behind the clouds, bringing wild whooping and applause from the crowds below. Walking towards the Main Stage, we saw that the path down to the Main Arena - a perilous bog by the end of Friday - had been closed off with extra fencing and a lady with a megaphone was directing us around the long way through the woods to get to the Main Stage. Behind Megaphone Lady, I could see trucks and diggers trying to do something with the muddy mess beyond that lead down to the Main Arena, and I was pleased to see that an effort to sort the mess out was going to be made.

around the site (2)

We got to the Main Stage to see Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip entertaining a fairly sizeable crowd of strange and muddy sea creatures, for today was Fancy Dress Day. This was the first Main Stage festival show the producer and his beat poet sidekick had ever played and the pair were clearly excited to be there, which rubbed off on the watching crowds. Scroobius Pip, dressed in trademark shirt and tie, trucker cap and skinny jeans, refused to begin a song until he saw some movement from the crowd, which they willingly gave him, particularly as the sun chose that moment to shine through the clouds again. Their cover of 'Push the Button' by Sugababes went down especially well with the audience, as did the duo’s best known track, 'Thou Shalt Always Kill', during which Scroobius appeared to read the lyrics from a bible. Clearly buoyed by the crowd's response, Scroobius then tried to begin the next track before Dan le Sac had had a chance to ready his beats. "Gimme a sec," Dan said, "I'm just chatting to this bird on Facebook. She's well fit!" "Who is she?" Scroobius responded. "Your mum" said Dan, getting a quick laugh from the audience, before launching into new single and final track of the set, 'Message from God to Man'. The Sunday Best label's very own played a corking set that was one of my - and many other people I spoke to - highlights of the weekend. It was great to see a band having such a great time and clearly so pleased to be playing.

Next up were ever-reliable festival favourites, The Cuban Brothers, bringing their funky and funny brand of crowd-pleasing 70s and 80s kitsch classics to the Main Stage. The music was superb, with a huge brass and percussion section as well as the usual band belting out tunes like 'I'm Coming Out' and 'Shaft' to an audience who were by now in the mood to have a good time. This was party music of the highest order and as the band played a variety of dancers took to the stage, adding to the spectacle. Between songs the band kept the crowd giggling with plenty of tongue in cheek innuendo and general rudeness: this set was so much fun that the sun even stayed out for it!

After the Cubans had finished their set, DJ Russ Cuban took to the decks with some more camp tunes while the awesomely kitsch dance troop Sparkle Motion did hilariously literal dance moves to tracks like Leona Lewis's 'Bleeding Love'. It was like Hot Gossip all over again - there should be more entertainment like this between sets at festivals.

Gary Numan
With a short gap before Gary Numan's set began, we decided to brave the Robin Hill Park’s Toboggan Run ride and we were not disappointed by it. The little metal tray on wheels provided a hilarious 2 minute adrenalin rush as we whooshed and swooshed down the tracks and back into the Main Stage arena once more - £3 well spent!

Back on the Main Stage, Gary Numan was now on stage sporting his new skate punk look and a massive grin. It was great to see another performer who looked set to have a great time that day, which made a welcome change from the doom and gloom of most of Friday. Gary's new electro punk tracks went down well, but the warmest reaction was - of course! - saved for his classic 'Cars', which was a fantastic festival moment.

A little drunk, a little happy having hooked up with an old friend (Hello Michael!) and some random party action, the rest of the afternoon is a bit of a blur. I know we saw Annie Nightingale playing some hard-edged tech-y breaks on the Rizla Stage, and without her trademark shades, either! People were partying hard in spite of the rain, which had started once again after our brief sunny interlude earlier that afternoon.

around the site (2)
From there we headed over to the Redbull Arena to catch some of Tayo's set and hide from the now-belting rain whilst grooving to more breaks, this time of a more hip hop-py flavour. The atmosphere in that tent was amazing, with Tayo also in fancy dress as Doctor Zoidberg from Futurama. From where we were stood we could see about 5 lobsters, some king prawns (with crowns), a shark who had eaten someone whose legs were still sticking from his mouth, Edward Scissorhands, Bananaman, Goose from Top Gun and more mermaids, King Tritons and other undersea royalty than you could shake a fin at.


I can't actually remember why we left as we were having a great time, chatting to randoms, admiring people's amazing costumes, generally partying and enjoying the atmosphere, but it probably had something to do with pear cider. All I know is that when we tried to get back in for Roots Manuva, the tent was packed to breaking point and, although we could’ve pushed our way in like everyone else that afternoon, there was no way I wanted to, as it was dangerously packed in there without a security guard in sight to help manage the crowd.

The Human League
After a rest and some food, we wandered back to the Main Stage arena again in time to see the end of The Human League and participate in a mass sing-along to 'Don't You Want Me Baby' which was lots of fun. The band were having a great time on stage, and were another act keen to showcase their kitsch synchronised dance moves as the girls shimmied and shook to the beat.

I know Hot Chip were next on the Main Stage. I know I heard them and I know they sounded really good, but I was very drunk and jabbering to my long-lost friend, so I will not attempt to review them when I paid them so little real attention. Clearly I should've done though as many people told me Hot Chip were the highlight of their weekend.

Headlining the Main Stage that night was Amy Winehouse and a bizarre atmosphere was swirling around the crowd before she even came on - clearly this was to be more freak show than music show. Tongues wagged in the crowd as time ticked on. 10, 20, 30 minutes late. Would she turn up? Would she look awful? Would she talk nonsense? Would she be battered on crack or smack? People began to boo and shout abuse: "Come on Crackhouse!" "Amy, I've got some crack! She'll be out in a shot now!" Guffaw, guffaw. Nice one, guys - now she's bound to come out. Idiots.

Amy Winehouse

When Amy's backing band finally did assemble on stage, the lights down ready to begin the show, it took the troubled singer a further 2 minutes to get herself on stage, bringing more boos from the crowd, which really can't have helped. When Amy finally appeared, she looked like a frightened rabbit caught in the headlights and did her best to hide from the audience behind the enormous guitar which she sporadically played and her drummer's kit. Her voice was turned down low in the mix and didn't sound brilliant; she missed vocal cues. She looked awful and constantly fiddled with her beehive which appeared to be giving her some grief, at one stage revealing it to be the wig I have always known it must be, her own hair hidden under a tight white cotton cap beneath. She didn't look at the crowd. While the band was as musically tight as ever and Amy is talented enough to get through a gig on about 10% effort, this was just uncomfortable viewing. The crowd hardly clapped between songs.

Towards the middle of the set Amy seemed to get into it a bit more and her vocals became considerably stronger through tracks from her Back to Black album and classics like 'Cupid'. However she was still missing vocal cues regularly, whilst running from band member to band member, presumably looking for the support the watching crowd refused to give her that night. When told at 11:50 she could play two more songs, her lack of self assurance was evident as she told the crowd "I know you lot aren't really bothered, but I'm gonna do two more." It must be more obvious to her than to most people that the majority of the crowd were there, not to see a talented singer, but to see the freak show fuelled by tabloid hype. And so the weirdness continued: midway through 'No Good' she tried to switch the song to 'Rehab' while her band were still playing, fiddling with her stuck-on beehive the whole time.

Amy Winehouse
Although in fine voice during the second half of the show, it was evident to anyone watching that Amy Winehouse was not happy to be on that stage. She was gaunt and painfully thin, no amount of make-up could disguise the mess of her skin and no amount of showmanship from her awesome band could hide the fact that she needs to take a rest right now. Rumour has it she will fulfil her current live commitments and then take two years off to recover and get herself back together again. I sincerely hope that this is true. Amy Winehouse is one of the most talented singers this country has ever had, and I live in hope that one day I will see her actually fulfil her obvious potential as a live performer. She has an amazing set in her somewhere. She just needs to find it.
review by: Lynsey Haire

photos by: Phil Bull

Friday 5th to Sunday 7th September 2008
Robin Hill Country Park, Downend, Nr Arreton, Isle of Wight.. PO30 2NU, England MAP
£130 w/e with camping, aged 13-16 £65, under 13 FREE but ticket needed - SOLD OUT
last updated: Mon 1st Sep 2008


latest on this festival

Bestival going into administration?
last updated: Mon 24th Sep 2018
Bestival 2018
photo galleries
last updated: Fri 17th Aug 2018
Bestival 2018
festival details
last updated: Tue 24th Jul 2018