Isle Of Wight comes of age under the rain of Sunday

Isle of Wight Festival 2011 review

published: Tue 14th Jun 2011

around the festival site (1)

Friday 10th to Sunday 12th June 2011
Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 2DN, England MAP
£175 weekend with camping - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 60000
last updated: Wed 8th Jun 2011

And on the third day of the Isle of Wight Festival, the god of live music looked down from the heavens and said: "Verily the Isle of Wight has had good weather for ten years, I shall test their faith by unleashing a mighty storm upon the earth". And so it came to pass, and the clouds formed, and the waters of the sky did mightily piss down. And some did say: "It's not supposed to rain at the Isle of Wight Festival, I'm off!" But the faithful, donning waterproofs of great variety, and wellingtons of many colours, said: "This is nothing, you should have been at Glastonbury in 2005." While others said: "Stop your moaning, did the Chief of Kaisers not tell us it is only water?" And so it came to pass that the true believers proved themselves worthy to the god of music and the gifts she brings.

Well it had to happen eventually, after ten years of dry and sunny festivals, the Isle of Wight finally came of age by having its first proper wet year. Arriving on site there was a steady stream of damp and muddy people leaving. Inside the arena, things weren't too bad, as apart from a steady and persistent drizzle the ground was holding up, for now, and only the pinch points between the three main areas of the festival were showing significant mud. Those who did stay had that determined if slightly soggy look that most festival goers get when the weather turns against them. Understandably, the Big Top was a very popular venue today as it was the only large covered area on site. For those that ventured out early in the afternoon and braved the weather at the main stage, were rewarded with performances from festival regular James Walsh, and what amounted to a 40 minute solo from guitar hero Jeff Beck.

Two Door Cinema Club
Two Door Cinema Club are an Irish band who have been making a few waves recently in the press and having enjoyed what I've heard of them on the radio, I was looking forward to seeing them live. They put a lot of effort into the performance, but I don't know whether it was the weather– a sunnier day might produce a different atmosphere – but they just weren't doing it for me, so I left in search of a hot drink and some shelter from the worsening rain.

Pop stars always take a risk when they venture onto festival stages, as most punters at a festival are there for indie or rock. However it can be the case that occasionally it can turn their career and give them some kudos for showing off their musical abilities as something more than another processed artist. Unfortunately for Pixie Lott, this wasn't to be her day in the sun (Rain?), probably the most memorable thing about the performance was her outfit, dressed in a matching halter top and hot pants with a pair of knee high boots, which probably peaked the interest of the male population. Sadly the music was nowhere near as attractive.

Plan B is an artist I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with. Having really liked the early singles, I found the album a bit too much of a one trick pony. So I was interested to see how he works as a live act. Prior to the band coming on stage beatboxer Faith SFX came on to introduce the band and warm up the crowd. This turned out to be an inspired move as not only is he very talented, but it woke up the crowd who, for the first time that day, really woke up, shook off the rain and started dancing. It was into this that Plan B arrived and immediately capitalised on the atmosphere Faith SFX set up and kept the crowd going with a near impeccable set. Live is clearly where this man belongs, and hopefully he can capture a bit more of that energy on future albums.

around the festival site (1)
The Script were up next on mainstage, but the rain was really starting to fall now so I went in search of sustenance and shelter again, eventually winding up in a very crowded Big Top for Cast – one of the many 90s bands who have recently reformed, Last time I saw them in 1996, lead singer John Power provided some impromptu comedy when he chased round the stage by a wasp – something which is unlikely to happen today. Instead we were treated to a greatest hits set from one of the overlooked bands of the Britpop era – opening with Fine Time, the band worked their way through their back catalogue, playing most of the first album, plus the best of the rest.

Beady Eye is the band formed from the remaining members of Oasis, after Noel Gallagher left following the well-publicised rift his brother Liam. Festival organizer John Giddings made no secret that Oasis were one of the bands he always wanted to get to the festival, and so this is the next best thing. Audience expectation was high, and although no-one was under the illusion that they would play any of Oasis back catalogue – there was hope that this rebooting of the band might see them approach Oasis' at their best.

Beady Eye
The crowds cheering started before the band took to the stage, when backstage cameras showed the band making final preparations on the big screen, including one slightly sickly moment when Liam had his kids brought up one by one to give them a kiss and a hug. The band then came on stage, Liam swaggering onto the stage wearing a Union Jack parka. It was always fair to say that Noel was the most talented of the two, and, as the music started this became self evident. Liam always had a nasally drone of a voice, but these days it's become so pronounced and incoherent that he's become a self-parody of his Oasis days. The songs don't help either, I only stayed for the first four, but at best they sounded like filler on one of the more average Oasis albums. I'm sure the hype machine will ensure that Beady Eye stay in the public consciousness for a while, but they certainly won't be remembered for the music.

By contrast, back in the Big Top, John Lydon was taking the reformed Public Image Ltd. (PiL) out for a spin – There's something fascinating about seeing Lydon perform, like most punks he sneers his way through the songs, but somehow manages to be utterly charming with it. Like Liam Gallagher, he crosses over into self-parody at times, but still manages to be utterly compelling. Due to a sound desk fusing itself earlier in the day, there are sound problems on the stage (although what the audience hears is fine) and the band struggle through the first two songs, before apologising to the audience and taking a break to get it fixed. Once they return, Lydon is even more frenzied than before, taking the crowd with him as he flicks through the back catalogue, no mean feat when you consider that PiL can be quite challenging to listen to – 'Rise' probably their most radio friendly song gets the biggest reaction, but I wouldn't be surprised if PiL's albums don't see a sales boost following this performance, as they won over a few new fans tonight.

Manic Street Preachers
Kasabian are the Main Stage headliners on the Sunday, and while the crowd there are obviously pleased to have them there, they were a band that never cut it for me, so instead I stayed down the Big Top for the Manic Street Preachers, a band that you should never write off, as, just when you think they've run their course they come back with an album that reignites them again. This is definitely the case with the latest album 'Postcards form a Younger Man', which recaptures the band at their best.

Classics such as 'Everything must go' and 'Motorcycle Emptiness' sit alongside '(It's Not War) Just The End Of Love' – A song title Meat Loaf would be proud of – quite comfortably, and the crowd leap and sing for all the songs, there's a good rapport for the audience, especially when James Dean Bradfield launches into 'Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head', dedicating to everyone stood outside the crowded tent. There is a lot of love for this band, who are quite capable of headlining festivals still, and probably should have deserved a place on the main stage. Their show tonight will be one of the strong memories of the weekend, along with Pulp, Tom Jones, Cast, and PiL – all these old hands showed the younger bands on the festival bill that they have a long way to go to match them.

around the festival site (1)
review by: Steve Collins / Marie Magowan

photos by: Steve Collins

Friday 10th to Sunday 12th June 2011
Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 2DN, England MAP
£175 weekend with camping - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 60000
last updated: Wed 8th Jun 2011


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