Sunday review

Isle of Wight Festival 2010 review

published: Thu 17th Jun 2010


Friday 11th to Sunday 13th June 2010
Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 2DN, England MAP
£130 adult weekend no camping, £65 for a child ticket (7-12 years)
daily capacity: 60000
last updated: Tue 15th Jun 2010

The final day of the Isle of Wight Festival started with the sun shining through, and although rain was forecast for later in the day, the early part gave no signs to its arrival.

The bands on Main Stage today included self-proclaimed Isle of Wight Festival fan Suzanne Vega, who is also a firm favourite of organiser John Giddings and has appeared for several years. This year her daughter joined her on stage, and their acoustic style fits in perfectly with a lazy Sunday afternoon in the sun.

The Courteeners provided more laid back music to an appreciative audience. This band made their mark earlier this year with a couple of hit singles, and have now started on the festival circuit in order to cement their reputation as a live band. They gave a strong if not overwhelming performance and it will be interesting to see where they go from here.

The Courteeners

The subdued calm was soon broken when festival stalwarts Friendly Fires hit the stage with an explosion of energy. The crowd were quickly up and dancing to such hits as 'Jump in the Pool' and 'Kiss of Life'. But I doubt if any of the crowd were dancing quite as badly as lead singer Ed Macfarlane's efforts on stage, which brought to mind your embarrassing uncle - drunk at a wedding.

Leaving the main stage for a while we made a quick dash across site to catch an Island favourite on the acoustic stage. Whisky River are a blues/country band fronted by Damien Paul. The band earned their place by beating other local bands in a competition and are seen most weekends across the Island’s pub scene.

Due to over running times on the accoustic stage and main stage running slightly ahead, we had to race back across the arena for one of what I consider to be the best performances of the weekend, but that may just be my age starting to tell....!

Spandau Ballet reunited last year and most certainly back on form. Their performance was applauded by the crowd from the moment they hit the stage and Tony Hadley was at the top of his game vocally. The hits of the eighties flooded back with 'Through the Barricades', 'Only when You Leave', 'Lifeline' and their biggest hit of all time 'Gold'. The performance was second to none and if that had been the end of the day I would not of been complaining, for me they could on that performance have been the headline of any day.

Spandau Ballet

After the up-tempo sing-along of Spandau Ballet, any band is going to seem like a come down, and when you have a band like Editors whose music isn't the most uplifting, the problem is compounded. Fortunately the band were on form today and the change of pace didn't jar as much as it could have. Tom Smith is one of the great frontmen and moved around the stage posing and pouting his way through hits such as 'Bones', 'Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors' and the big anthemic sound of 'Munich'.

Over at the acoustic stage another Isle of Wight regular James Walsh treated those that were watching to a selection of stripped back Starsailor hits, both on the piano and guitar. This was followed by a second appearance of the day by Suzanne Vega, who this time played a set of some her lesser known songs.

After a quick trip to get some food, we stopped off at the Big Top to see Ocean Colour Scene, a band who never quite managed to live out the promise of their first album. Interestingly, they opened the show with their two biggest hits: 'The Riverboat Song' and 'The Circle'. Whether this was to draw in passing crowds or just to ensure those who left early got to hear them I don't know, but it certainly got the crowd going from the outset. As they moved on to their more recent, less well known songs the enthusiasm from the crowd didn't diminish. What I heard has whetted my appetite to go and see them next time they tour.

Ocean Colour Scene

Back at Main Stage, the audience were getting ready for Paul McCartney, who was probably the biggest draw of the weekend, for most of the crowd. The congestion in the main arena made you notice how packed this festival is. This is a recurring problem at the IW Festival in recent years, caused I feel by the simple fact that 60,000 people is about 10,000 too many for the size of the site. I can understand that it's a popular festival and for financial reasons the large capacity has its attractions, but less people would improve the festival no end, and give the site a bit more breathing space.

Prior to his arrival, the audience were treated to a slide show on the large screen of Beatles, Wings and Paul McCartney memorabilia, followed by a video of James Cordon introducing him to the stage, no doubt it's on Youtube somewhere by now, and I urge you to go and have a look as it's quite funny.

Paul arrived on stage just after 9pm and immediately launched into a set full of songs from the breadth of his career, including plenty of old Beatles classics, much to the delight of the audience. Musically you couldn't fault him, he is a talented multi-instrumentalist and as skilled on the piano or guitar as he is on the bass that he is most known for playing.

Paul McCartney

At one point he performed a version of 'Purple Haze' in honour of this being 40 years since Jimi Hendrix played the IW Festival (his last public performance before his death one month later). He then went on to tell the story of how Hendrix learnt Sgt Peppers on the day the album was released, as he was a fan. This was one of many stories and tales that McCartney told in between songs, and also the point where I started to lose interest in him. It turns out that he is one of the greatest name-droppers out there – every story started with "while I was round George Harrison's house for dinner...", or "when Eric (Clapton) and I went out to see...". Whilst I usually enjoy bands who banter and talk to the crowd, with Sir Paul it slips too far into 'look how famous I am'. As said musically he's fantastic, but if he cut down the banter his show would have been a great finish to the weekend.

Fortunately, back down in the festival village, things were carrying on for a bit, and so we left Sir Paul to his friends and headed off to see James headline the Big Top. The tent was already fairly packed when we arrived, partially due to the light rain that had started to fall and partially to the 90s indie classics that the DJ was playing. James are a band that always give good value, and Tim Booth seems genuinely touched by the number of people who have turned out to see him, "with Paul McCartney on the stage I was expecting to be playing to three men and a dog tonight" he told the crowd.

After a five minute break to deal with a power cut on the stage, the band returned to work their way through their back catalogue. Tim's voice was strong and clear and his passion for the songs he performs is clear, whether it is for the raucous 'Come Home', anthemic 'Tomorrow' or the gentler musings on 'Out To Get You'. The crowd are probably the liveliest I've seen all weekend, and when they play their biggest hit 'Sit Down' the crowd seem like they may be about to storm the stage. As a finish to the weekend it was a brilliant high, and left you wondering why this band don't headline more festivals rather than hide way on smaller stages.

review by: Steve Collins

photos by: Steve Collins

Friday 11th to Sunday 13th June 2010
Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 2DN, England MAP
£130 adult weekend no camping, £65 for a child ticket (7-12 years)
daily capacity: 60000
last updated: Tue 15th Jun 2010

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