Blastival completes the last day of high quality entertainment at Bestival

Bestival 2009 review

published: Thu 17th Sep 2009

Blastival (2)

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

Sunday is still hot, and so the heat drives us out, still blinking into the day. I've come to the festival primarily to see one band, one that moved me to tears at Glastonbury, The Low Anthem. Who are due on criminally early, so before breakfast I head to the main stage to discover the The Shanklin Freak Show replete with jugglers in full swing. Seems the stage is running late, so late, The Low Anthem only get to play five songs, though most of them are new and not off the album, there's no 'Charlie Darwin' or 'To Ohio' I'm gutted.

around the festival site (6)
Folky Ohbijou from Canada prove to be a good choice of follow up act. Singer Casey Mecija has a voice which soothes and the assembled musicians provide an atmospheric melancholy accompaniment, it even clouds over in sympathy. An accomplished live act worthy of a bigger stage than the Jim Beam stage.

Electing to take some time out after that I miss composer Michael Nyman and his band playing classical and chill out tunes, the English National Ballet dancing to a medley of well known dance tunes, and the pants for poverty record attempt.

Any thoughts of slowing down are rapidly gone, with a hot and sweaty bounce around to an on form earthy Eat Static in the RBMA Mission Transmission, the sun beats down on the white canvas roof and the set goes steaming by in a moment. Terrific ethereal space fuelled festival stuff full of bleeps and knob twiddling, the dreadlocked festival goers all coming out of the woodwork for this one.
around the festival site (main stage)

I return to the main stage just in time to see Bjorn Again on the main stage and the ABBA tribute group from Australia, appear to have attracted a field full of people holding giant scrabble letters aloft. They also appear to have turned the arena into a frothy dance party, which is developed by a three piece band in orange suits who stand in for the voiceless Beardyman.

Doves follow them and kept the momentum going with a storming set dipping into their 'Kingdom Of Rust' album, rather than my personal favourite 'Last broadcast'. The band are clearly up for the appearance, despite a few technical hitches, and there's something special about the sunset slot, and the crowd responds well to their set.

Where I'm standing I can hear the Hot Club Of Belleville, so I wander in to be delighted by the incredible quality of fiddle playing by Nuala Nova, and the gypsy swing band get us dancing in the polka tent. Three guitars and a tuba round out the manouche sound, and they even get invited back by the stage booker for a three song encore, breathtaking.

Fleet Foxes
Perfect timing means that folk-rockers Fleet Foxes are just about to start, so I move up to the top of the steep field to get a good view, and escape the wind effected sound problems. This is offset by nostrils full of the smell of portaloos, as the toilets here are incredibly close to the stage. Nevermind, the gentle harmonies, and mellow performance under lights stolen from the campsite by the look of it provide a remarkably suitable diversion from the smell. 'White Winter Hymnal', 'Blue Ridge Mountains', and 'Mykonos' are the highlights of this set full of songs from their self titled debut album. After their less than sparkling performance at Glastonbury, this proved to be a much better show, perhaps the time of night, and the smaller crowd helped to deliver those harmonies in what felt like a more intimate setting. Whatever, they were top draw this evening.

Tonight's headliners are Elbow, who prove to be worthy of the slot, and they solve the problem of half the crowd not being able to see by adding six screens to the main stage, although these are blighted with technical glitches. Drawing mainly on material from 'The Seldom Seen Kid'. There were a lot of people on stage including a backing string quartet in fancy dress costumes and they helped to round out the sound with 'Grounds For Divorce' sounding monumental. Guy Garvey persuaded the crowd to hum the 'Star Trek Theme', then with glittery confetti explosions and 'One Day Like This' he brought the curtain down on the imposing structure of the main stage for this year.

Blastival (2)
Hot footing it down to the Fire Field ad the Afterburner before the crowds we found a suitable vantage point to watch Rob Da Bank DJ from a transparent rocket. Opening with 'Major Tom' the festival organiser did reveal that standing on a bonfire stack of tiered pallets he did rather hope it didn't catch fire. After a mass singalong of 'Rocket Man' he announced that Elton John would be next year's headliner (was he joking?) Suddenly two people dashed up the steps to Rob's platform, followed by Michael Santos, a man in rags. Who after removing several pairs of pants, and throwing away Rob's decks leapt naked into the rocket as the pedestal caught fire.

Soon it became a towering blaze and the show culminated with the soundtrack being accompanied by an explosion of stellar fireworks. What a finale! Before the crowd swamped Afterburner could splutter its flaming jet into life we said our goodbyes and made the dash for our ferry. It had indeed been a cosmic weekend and damn spectacular! What a great way to end our festival season.
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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