The Prodigy, and Basement Jaxx delight fans on opening night

Isle Of Wight 2009 review

published: Thu 18th Jun 2009

The Prodigy

Friday 12th to Sunday 14th June 2009
Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 2DN, England MAP
£120 adult no camping, £60 child (12 and under), £140 with camping - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 50000
last updated: Mon 8th Jun 2009

I took the wise decision to beat the Isle of Wight (IOW) ferry rush and travel there on Thursday morning. So, at some ungodly hour, after no sleep thanks to watching The Stereophonics' amazing warm up gig at the Wolverhampton Civic, I caught the Red Funnel ferry from Southampton to East Cowes (the cheapest option by far this year). This gave me the chance to spend the day experiencing the beautiful Isle of Wight, from its seaside town beaches to the majestic Carisbrooke Castle, although most people just headed straight to the festival campsite at Seaclose Park. In fact by 6pm there were 30,000 people already at the Isle of Wight festival to experience entertainment laid on for the happy campers, with no less than the The Human League to get everyone ready for the Friday!

Friday had me annoyed. Strict security letting me in one gate and not back through. You're allowed here but not there, oh we've changed our minds you're not allowed here at all! Check your bag, check your bag and check your bag again etc. As always the security at the IOW festival was mega tight, but in the end I just had to take it all in your stride and go with the flow.

I was one of the lucky few that had backstage access, so had no problems getting in, but I took the very long walk up along Fairlee Road to see the main non-camper entrance and the campsite entrance. There were already throngs of people with backpacks, trolley-loads full of alcohol and vibrant costumes trudging their way through the already warm but cloudy day to get to the campsite.

What met me was a sea of tents filled with already drunken revellers, no queue at all to get in, efficient staff and a brand new bus area designed to help non –campers get wind their way back to their accommodation at the end of the festival. Unfortunately, it wasn't very well advertised that people didn't have to trudge back to Newport town centre to get their buses though, much to the delight of lots of people who waited hours at the local bus stop on Friday night for non-existent buses! Better luck next year IOW!

As soon as the gates opened, tens of thousands rushed in from the campsite straight to Strawberry Fields, the IOW festival's much loved chill out area where you could escape the throng of the crowds at the Main Stage and spend time strutting your stuff at the Guitar Hero tent, pampering yourself at the brand new Look Pamper Parlour, take in the fun fair rides, head to the Strongbow Bowtime Bar, check out the DJ sets from the likes of the Noisettes in the Ray Ban rooms; the list is endless! The Bandstand had even been turned into an Acoustic Stage for this year – the IOW Festival's best kept secret for 2009!

Pixie Lott
I rushed to The Big Top (the IOW 2nd stage) to experience some of the amazing female acts that made the line up for Friday's Girls Night Out. First up was Pixie Lott, much to the delight of all the youngsters and their parents as they bopped their way through songs like 'Here We Go Again', 'Cry Me Out' and current number 1 in the charts 'Mama Dear'. Not to my taste, but she can definitely sing and as the IOW festival attracts such a wide demographic this was certainly a kiddy crowd pleaser!

The Ting Tings
Next it was fight your way through the throngs of crowds to get back to the Main Stage for The Ting Tings. Even though it was cloudy, it was warm, and lots of people were already sporting glowing sunburn as they drank their way through the evening in the chilled out yet exhilarating atmosphere that everyone was lapping up. The Ting Tings won the best pop act at the UK Festival Awards last year, although I found it hard to see why.

I thought that Jules De Martino and Katie White struggled to fill the stage as they blasted their way through feet tapping, happy go lucky tunes like 'We Walk', 'Great DJ', 'Fruit Machine' (where White shouted "I've got one request and that's that you fu**ing dance!"), 'That's Not My Name' and 'Shut Up And Let Me Go'. But the crowd were going wild, dancing the early evening away and roaring in appreciation as White whipped out weird musical instrument after weird musical instrument, including cow bells!

Beverley Knight
I made it just in time to catch the whole set of soul diva Beverley Knight at The Big Top, thanks to catching a ride on a golf cart full of photographers that the eFestivals photographer had to drive to get us there in time! And boy was I glad I went. This was the highlight of the day for me, even though I'm not a Knight fan! Her band were cool, slick, soulful and sassy. And thirty something Knight looked amazing in skin tight black trousers and sequinned top. The crowd were 20 deep outside the tent to catch a glimpse of this amazing songstress who seemed visibly choked, almost to the verge of tears, at the reaction to her performance of songs like 'Flavour of the Old Skool', 'iece of My Heart', her new single 'Beautiful Light', 'Shoulda Woulda Coulda' and 'Sista Sista'. The applause and whoops of appreciation were deafening, and I'm sure that everyone would have given her a standing ovation if they weren’t standing already.

I stayed firmly planted at the front row of The Big Top to see one of my personal favourites, indie rockers Noisettes. I was intrigued to see if they could command such a big stage as I've only seen them before in tiny venues, but I shouldn't have been concerned. Shingai Shoniwa, the star attraction of the band, is so energetic, so unique and such a large character that the whole audience were mesmerised as her amazingly powerful voice. She treated us to hits like 'Wild Young Hearts', 'Don't Upset The Rhythm' (which saw Shanai drape herself over the drums whilst belting out "Go baby, Go Baby, Go") and '24 Hours'. She took time out to sit on one of the speakers and melt everyone's hearts whilst singing ballad 'Every Now and Then'. As I tore myself away from The Big Top, I could see her singing 'Never Forget You' on the Big Screen that had been installed outside so that more people could see than last year. Lucky really as it was rammed!

Basement Jaxx
It was almost impossible to get near the Main Stage for Basement Jaxx, but with patience, and 25 minutes to spare, I managed to wind my way through tens of thousands of people to the front. Such crowds and jostling for position would normally cause tension, but there was none of that. Everyone was jubilant, very drunk and palpably excited whilst waiting for this massive dance act.

As fair ride lights lit up the night sky and the sun started to set just behind the Main Stage you could feel the first beats of music beneath your feet as Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe bounced on stage. I stood open mouthed throughout the set as hit after massive hit poured across Seaclose Park, everything from 'Oh My Gosh', 'Jus 1 Kiss' and 'Red Alert', to a remix of Kings of Leon's 'Sex is on Fire' and brand new 'Raindrops'. Best songs of the set had to be 'Jump 'n Shout' and 'Where's Your Head At' (which I found incredibly hard trying to write and dance at the same time to).

The whole of the Basement Jaxx set was one massive party – thanks to the energy of the larger than life guest singers who's colourful costumes (including gold and turquoise bridal dresses, Salt n Pepa style shell suits and bling, skeleton body suits, sequinned shorts and tutus) and vocals whipped the crowd into a frenzy time and time again. Everyone around me was dancing, jumping, shouting the lyrics, finger pointing and having an amazing time. A truly electrifying performance that had everyone more than ready for The Prodigy.

The Prodigy
I had to take time out for The Prodigy and escaped the VIP bar area stage left. Okay, so I missed out on some of the crowd atmosphere but it was just so hot and so crowded that I had no choice! I knew that The Prodigy warriors would go mental too! And I was right! With the night sky surrounding us, graphics matching those of The Prodigy's latest album, 'Invaders Must Die', filled the back of the stage.

Then the air was filled with what can only be described as really fuc**ng loud dance music as Keith Flint and Maxim jumped, danced and controlled the stage throughout the set. We were treated to all of their rocking hits like 'Breathe' and 'Firestarter' and a few off the new album like 'World on Fire', 'Warrior's Dance' and 'Omen'. The mosh pit went mental and the ground shook with dancing. All of the tunes are timeless and seamless. Some may comment that The Prodigy are too old for all this, and although they may have been in the business for years, they've still got it in my eyes and thoroughly deserved to be the headliners.

I was on such a high leaving for the night as everyone started to wind their way back to their tents and hotels that I just couldn't wait for Saturday to begin, even though I was absolutely exhausted! I totally forgot about the security hassles that we had had at the beginning of the day and looked forward to the next amazing line-up.
review by: Tricia Owen-Williams

photos by: Michelle Owen-Williams

Friday 12th to Sunday 14th June 2009
Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 2DN, England MAP
£120 adult no camping, £60 child (12 and under), £140 with camping - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 50000
last updated: Mon 8th Jun 2009

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