Sunday, and as the weather continues to improve we arrive on site, it was clear to see that the numbers for the festival today are certainly going to be big, as the arena is already fairly full with many looking to secure their pitch for today's show. Those nursing hangovers or just festival burn-out were gently soothed by a stripped back part-acoustic set from festival regular Suzanne Vega - and while most were to worn out to sing along, they still found the energy to applaud the songs.
With such good line-ups on the main stage it is difficult to be motivated to move through the site, but as always the promise of real ale and/or cherry beer for is always a strong pull, so after observing a game of Twister (perfect for stretching tired legs) en-route we made our way to the Kashmir Cafe, our plan had been to see local act Cherishport, but for reasons unknown he wasn’t performing as billed (another app problem?) we headed back to main stage for to sooth my inner prog-rocker and watch Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson. Arguably more famous for playing the flute while standing on one leg as he is for his music. the set was a meandering, guitar and flute laden odyssey of sudden key and tempo changes through over-long songs - In short it was a prog-rock fans delight, although those less enlightened of us were bemused and confused by it all.
With mutual agreement with those less enamoured of prog it was back to the Kashmir to catch the end of local artist Damian Paul, whose popular blues and country always leave the crowd wanting that little bit more. Today’s festival was turning into a relay between main-stage andKashmir, so dutifully we returned to the former to see Imelda May. Irish singer Imelda is easily recognisable for her classic style and rockabilly blues, and she certainly gave the crowd a rude awakening from their afternoon slumber, waking them up with the likes of Mayhem, Johhny got a Boom Boom, and Round the Bend. This is one star who has worked her way up the ranks and although all was quiet for her last year while having her baby she is back with a bang.
Sometimes it’s difficult to gauge bands attractiveness to festival-goers - get it wrong and you can leave a band struggling to perform to a half-empty tent, or struggling to fit all the people into the venue. Fortunately for the Lightning Seeds it was the latter, as they had filled the Big Top to capacity and security had closed the entrances leaving the crowd at least ten deep outside the tent. A band that often is now though more of for being the last decent football anthem, were performing all the big anthems like Change and Sense to the crowds delight - this is a band that probably should have been scheduled on the main stage.
A band that are a few years off filling big tents are Kassassin Street, but you get the feeling that they are definitely on their way. These psychedelic rockers are only growing in stature, and over the last couple of years we’ve seen them grow as a band, and even though they had a few sound issues with feedback their ever energetic performance was one that got the tent dancing.
Also going form strength to strength is Paolo Nutini, who last played at Isle of Wight Festival in 2007 as a virtual unknown not long after New Shoes became a hit for him. With three albums to his name he now plays his own material as expected, but it’s a shame as he has got some really interesting covers in his back catalogue. That said it is a small complaint and not one which detracts from his show. There have been some artists over the weekend who have seemed almost bored to be performing but Paolo definitely wasn't one of them. Seeming almost to connect with every member of the audience his passion for what he does is unmistakeable. I don't think it will be long before we see him headlining festivals as he was probably the highlight of the weekend and would have loved to have seen a longer set that his allocated slot allowed.
Finally it was time for the long awaited Fleetwood Mac, after the ongoing ‘will they/won’t they?’over the last week in the light of a string of cancelled shows due to an undisclosed illness. It was great to finally see them live as they are a band on my bucket list. This brought with it excitement to see a great band but also disappointment that another great weekend was drawing to a close so quickly. Certainly the quality of the performance was not to be faulted, however after a while I found myself starting to disconnect with it - whether it was because of the high expectations of the return of Christine McVie but it just didn't really deliver all it promised. I do know this wasn't the feeling for everyone. Certainly not when trying to get across to the rest of the site, the main arena seemed to be as full as we've ever seen it. Often with the main headliner you will see a number of people stay for the first half and then look elsewhere, tonight we seemed to be in the minority, but there are always more gems to be had.
One of the good things about slipping away early from an extremely popular act is that the other venues are incredibly quiet and there’s no problem in getting a good place for other acts, and so it was that we found ourselves a seat in the hip shaker bar to enjoy Ska'd for Life - a covers band but one of the best ska acts out there. We then finished off the evening by stopping in on The Charlatans performance in the big top, who once you got past the shock of seeing Tim Burgess’blond mop top was a masterclass in how to work a crowd, they are a band that had more hits than you remember them, so you find yourself singing along to songs that you’ve forgotten about and happy to be reacquainted with.
So how would I sum up Isle of Wight Festival 2015, in my opinion it started with the best Thursday night line up the festival has had yet, Friday was hampered by rain which could have ruined the whole weekend, but from what could have happened the weather was kind and quick thinking from the ground crew and good preparation stopped the site from becoming too waterlogged. Saturday was a great day and while Sunday didn’t quite top it for me, there has been something for all and plenty to enjoy as long as you made the effort to explore a bit more of the site. With the stress that must have been building for organiser John Giddings over the past week, he can now sit back in the knowledge this has been a very successful year. Well done.
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