Kraftwerk manufacture a jaw dropping headline performance on Saturday

Bestival 2009 review

published: Thu 17th Sep 2009


Friday 11th to Sunday 13th September 2009
Robin Hill Country Park, Downend, Nr Arreton, Isle of Wight.. PO30 2NU, England MAP
£140 (Adult) - / £70 (Age 13-15)
last updated: Fri 4th Sep 2009

Able to rouse ourselves in the sunshine and tune into Bestival radio which is amusingly shot away with Rev Milo happily telling us completely inaccurate things such as Speech Debelle only playing tomorrow. Luckily today's free festival newspaper The Bestival Bugle fortunately sets the record straight.

Speech Debelle
We arrive at the main stage just too late to see Golden Silvers, and having only recently seen Goldie Lookin' Chain I elect to go and see Speech Debelle the Mercury Music Prize winner. The tent is full of folks in fancy dress, and the island must be running out of tin foil, I rather like her melodic jazz hip-hop it reminds me of Tribe Called Quest at times. The musicians are clearly enjoying playing on stage too, Speech doesn't seem phased by her new found fame, and despite the diamanté London skyline encrusted tracksuit seems rather down to earth. She's naturally witty, disarming, and on the strength of the songs set to go far. The music merits her winning the accolade, and is sure to outlive the hype.

Lucky Elephant
Missing Little Boots doing her Lady Penelope impression complete with miniature car, I head down to the real ale bar to see Lucky Elephant, the perfect mix of ale, sunshine and laid back tunes with a quirky mix. Both 'Reverend Tilsley & His Magic Lantern' and 'Lucky Elephant' get an airing and the crowd show their appreciation with some heartfelt applause after such an intimate set on the Jim Beam stage.

Dirty Projectors (2)
The quality of the last act keep me here for Dirty Projectors, the band seem to lack confidence, and they show little enthusiasm or energy and yet still their music shines with sparkly African style guitar, zipping basslines, strange vocal/electronica bleeps, and intricate song structures that come over as something upbeat and simple. Clever stuff which is rather likeable and has moments which remind me of David Byrne and Paul Simon.

A quick walk past the parade of space themed costumes, and there's a lot of them and I reach the main stage and Mika also clad in a spacesuit, with a tin foil strewn stage. Well received by the disco loving crowd, who all singalong to hits from 'The Boy Who Knew Too Much', and new tracks 'We Are Golden' and 'Blame It On The Girls'. Mika treats to them to a few new songs too. I'd like to pretend I didn't like it, but I actually found it a well delivered set, that had me, the crowd, and the fancy dress Imperial Stormtroopers on stage dancing. We even get giant confetti cannons, giant silver balloons (to further impede our viewing pleasure) and a tin foil brolley, could anyone want more?

Lily Allen
Yet another set from The Correspondents, who much like The Cuban Brothers seem to be giving this festival 110%, and on walk The Correspondents, Lily Allen's pants pretending to be Barbarella. It's enough to keep most of the men in the audience happy, whilst the predominantly young female audience lap up 'Everybody's At It', 'LDN', a drum n bass rendition of 'Smile', a murdered version of the Kaiser Chiefs' Oh My God' and a better version of Britney's 'Womanizer', and despite two sound slip ups with dead air, it seems the girl who gets the crowd to repeat 'Fuck You' to the BNP quite happily, can do no wrong.

Having also seen Seasick Steve a lot I opted to try something new, and sample some more of my favourite fish and chips, so I headed for the Bandstand to see Hugo Frusslinky, seems the local act have attracted many of the island's locals, who report they're having a great time, and the younger ones are enjoying the kids' activities. Listening to the band's indie-electro toe tapping new wave pop, and eating local fish, talking to local residents, whilst watching a local band makes it all so much more... err.... native.
Filled with community spirit, well Goddard Brewery's Bestivale I return to the elevated main stage for the well received nu-ravers Klaxons who deliver a glo-stick waving set bursting with well worn tracks from 'Myths of the Near Future', and on airing 'Golden Scans' declare it's the final time to hear it live. No point seeing them any more then, well maybe as the new energetic pumped tracks went down rather well.

I have to confess to only knowing Kraftwerk through Senor Coconut's covers album, and I'm rather blown away by tonight's headliners. Clear, simple, faultless electronica, and jaw dropping graphics. The four of them stand before us behind laptops stock still whilst mesmerising old black and white, and science text book type graphics flow behind them.

The openers of 'Man-Machine', 'Tour De France', 'Trans-Europa Express', and 'Vitamin' are a revelation of perfectly executed German efficiency and slick visuals, we get 'Autobahn' with the distinctive motorway graphic, 'Showroom Dummies', and 'The Model'. The curtain falls and it's 'The Robots' with them actually replaced by real robots that makes this an awesome set that's unlikely to be forgotten, dazzling and one of the moments of the year. Next up 'Computer Love' and the crazy graphics of 'Musique Non Stop' and the German quartet have become Trons covered in EL-wire suits and the 3d numbers behind them are mindblowing. A brilliant conclusion to the space themed day.

We move through the arena over what looks like the aftermath of some future war, broken pieces of robot, tin foil, alien appendages, laser guns and more are strewn across the floor as we make our way to see La Roux in the Big Top. The tent isn't packed although it looks like it, crowd control measures have lead the majority who could be inside to bunch up in huge numbers around the outdoor screen. Inside her brand of electronica sounds still manages to stand up compared to the earlier masters of Krautrock. She clearly has a large following, she plays 'In For The Kill' early and it's a dubbier heavier version, much of the songs are re-worked and appear tonight as stronger incarnations with ballsy vocals.

Tankus the Henge
I was looking forward to Rob Da Bank's show on the Afterburner, but the loos are ALL out of action, and I walk a long way away in search of a working toilet, well out of earshot of his set. Later, I settle down with a cup of tea in the Magic Meadow to watch light spill across flags and the large Bestival sign, before Future Sound Of London's set, and end up in Club Da Da watching Tankus The Henge still partying after 47 hours.

We aim for the late night Pronghorn slot, but our fancy dress is unsuited to the cold night air, so we head for bed, by that time the campsites are starting to fall quiet.
review by: Scott Williams

photos by: Karen Williams / Phil Bull

Friday 11th to Sunday 13th September 2009
Robin Hill Country Park, Downend, Nr Arreton, Isle of Wight.. PO30 2NU, England MAP
£140 (Adult) - / £70 (Age 13-15)
last updated: Fri 4th Sep 2009

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