Elbow ensure it's a Beautiful Day at 'Izzy' despite the mud

Isle Of Wight Festival 2012 review

published: Tue 26th Jun 2012

Elbow

Friday 22nd to Sunday 24th June 2012
Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 2DN, England MAP
£160 weekend no camping, with camping sold out
daily capacity: 90000
last updated: Tue 12th Jun 2012

After the problems of the previous day, the ongoing storm on Twitter and Facebook decrying the state of the festival calling for it to be banned, taken off the Island, or for John Giddings to personally pay for everyone on the Isle of Wight's Council Tax as compensation (yes that last one is real), and some of the national press dutifully displaying pictures of people wading knee deep through seas of mud left us wondering what we would find. Although the rain had passed, and the skies were reasonably clear, strong winds were still gusting round the site, so the organizers took the decision to close off the main arenas until 4pm, rather than opening them earlier as originally planned.

around the festival site (Friday 2)
In light of this it was with interest, and a certain trepidation that we headed onto site, but were surprised to find that although the roads had several abandoned cars along the verges, the roads themselves where clear and we sailed straight through and down to the car park. The site itself was actually in pretty good condition – the main arena was still grassy, and remained so all day even with the many thousands of boots and wellies stomping all over it. Around the big top and garden stage things were worse, but the mud was starting to dry out, and getting around didn't cause too many problems.

Noah And The Whale
Having missed the festival openers Feeder, we settled down to watch Noah and the Whale, a band that we've tried to see several times at other festivals, but who had always clashed with someone else on the line-up and lost out. I have to say that having finally seen them, I wasn't that overwhelmed by them. Musically they are ok, and recreate their recorded sound perfectly, which for me is where the problem lay – a good live band should add something extra to the performance, and they just didn't.

It's a fact that if you go to a festival several times you will develop a fondness for certain areas that will become your default spot – somewhere you go when nothing on the other stages appeals, and for us at the Isle of Wight Festival it's the Kashmir Café. The café has performances from local bands, and more importantly, is the only place where you can escape from the Strongbow and Carling that the rest of the festival serves, and enjoy a proper beer from one of the local breweries. Arriving at the café we were expecting to see performing, but were surprised instead to see catch the tail end of a band that I had thought disbanded a few years ago. Cozy Flashbak was one of the bands that looked like they might breakout of the local scene and go national for a while, and it was good to hear them perform again. Kashmir changeovers are a fairly quick and laid back affair and Dr Jones and the Blunt Instruments came on effortlessly, this may be due to the drummer's kit almost being permanently set up as he plays with not just one but four bands over the weekend. Their set is always a firm favourite for locals and visitors alike.

Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey is one of the artists that have had a 'buzz' of late, and having never really heard her music, I was looking forward to seeing her performance in the Big Top, but as often happens when the weather turns and festival timings don't always go to plan her late arrival meant that I had to leave the set after the first song, and didn't really get to give her a proper chance, what I did hear didn't sound too bad though.

In interviews with festival organiser John Giddings, much was made of his 'American trilogy' of headliners, and the fact that he matched them with three big British acts in support. The first of these was Elbow – a band who after several years in the wilderness finally got the recognition they deserved with their third album. There seems to be a lot of love for them these days, and this was in evidence as they took to the stage, the wave of good vibes the crowd gave off was physically noticable. From the opening of 'Starlings' lead singer Guy Garvey had the crowd in his palm, literally at one point when what started as a simple "Raise your hands" quickly descended into Guy getting 50,000 people to scratch each others heads, give peace signs and shout 'fuckoff' in unison. "Isle of Wight is a mouthful, do you mind if I called you Izzy?" he asked, and to be honest, I think he could have called them all wankers and they wouldn't have minded. Musically Elbow's songs are a mix of confessional highly personal songs with an epic feel – at times more a soundscape than a song, and as the sun set to the left of the stage, it fit perfectly. They finished with the song that launched them to the big time – 'Beautiful Day', it seemed that the mud and bad memories of the previous day finally melted from the minds of the crowd and they were finally united in a moment.

Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers
Despite having toured extensively over here, Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers have never played a UK festival before, and so his headline performance was seen as a bit of a coup for the Isle of Wight. Combined with the quality of Elbow's set, Tom had a lot to live up to. A few months shy of his 62nd birthday, Tom still has the vigour of a man half his age, and puts a lot of energy into his performance. Known best for mixing country, and rock and roll, I think quite a few people in the audience were surprised that live, he actually sounded closer to a lot of English rock bands – Mike Cambell's guitar sound is remarkably close to David Gilmours. And this link was reinforced when they covered Fleetwood Mac's 'Oh Well' – dedicating it to the "great Peter Green". Away from the guitar noodlings, all his hits were present and correct, with the crowd's biggest reactions reserved for the tracks from the 1989 album Full Moon Fever – ironically the first album he did without the Heartbreakers – 'Won't Back Down', 'Freefallin' and 'Running Down The Dream', as well as 'Handle With Care' from his period with the super-group Travelling Wilburys.

Having grown up with his music I was looking forward to finally seeing him live, and glad to say he didn't disappoint. However he didn't quite manage to beat the previous performance by Elbow, and the Friday of this year's Isle of Wight Festival belonged to them.

Elbow
review by: Steve Collins / Marie Magowan

photos by: Steve Collins

Friday 22nd to Sunday 24th June 2012
Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 2DN, England MAP
£160 weekend no camping, with camping sold out
daily capacity: 90000
last updated: Tue 12th Jun 2012


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