Saturday, and the shone shone bright over a site that we were pleased to see had been thoroughly cleaned after the sea of detritus left from the previous night. Sadly there didn't seem to be any significant increase in the number of bins, so unless today's crowds are significantly tidier, it seems that the rubbish was going to be a feature of the weekend.
If yesterday saw the main stage holding no interest, by contrast today the bands we wanted to see were almost exclusively performing there. One thing the Isle of Wight Festival does really well is provide an eclectic mix of music across the day. You often hear people complain at festivals about lineups, but although you may not like everything, it's rare to find nothing at all, no matter what your tastes. The early part of the afternoon was dominated by pop acts, and we arrived in time to catch a performance by Jessie J, which although not the sort of thing that usually interests me, was actually a pretty decent show, and certainly given the response form the crowd there were plenty who agreed.
After a decent set from Kodaline - Ireland’s answer to Coldplay, we headed off in search of a bite to eat. The Isle of Wight offers plenty of options food-wise, even if it's mostly variations of the usual theme of burgers and noodles you'll find at festivals up and down the country. In previous years the Festival had an arena called the Octopus Garden which offered a selection of decent alternatives for those looking for something different. Sadly this year the area had gone, however some of the stalls remained. In particular was the local garlic farm stall which offers a decent chilli and garlic bread combo which is well worth checking out. This time we went for a new Festival staple food that's arrived in recent years - Mac and Cheese. Add in some bacon bites (or mixed peppers for the veggies) and you have a tasty meal that is good to fill you up and soak up the alcohol. While settling down to eat we were lucky to catch a set from Hannah Paris on the Hard Rock Stage. Hannah Is a country rocker whose strong voice, great songs and bubbly personality made for a great show. It wouldn't surprise me to see her playing on the larger stages before too long.
Meanwhile on the main stage, the ‘greatest hits’ show of the IoW Festival continued with a return performance form James Bay. Since his debut in 2015, James has returned and seems to have reinvented himself along the way. From his earlier days as a gently acoustic pop crooner. The new version is a leather jacketed rocker who brings to mind an early Bryan Adams, both in look and sound. It was perhaps no surprise that he included a cover of Tina Turner’s ‘Simply the Best’ in his set.
Liam Gallagher is an interesting soul. After the collapse of Oasis he formed a band out of the remaining members of the band, which inevitably given the general acceptance that his brother Noel was the real songwriter of the band, sounded like a cut price Oasis tribute act even if he didn't perform any Oasis tracks. Now he has a solo album out, so you'd expect him to perform tracks from that. So it was only natural that instead he treated us all to a set exclusively of Oasis hits - and naturally the crowd went wild. One thing that Liam has always been able to do is talk to a crowd - he may not be a great songwriter, but he is a natural frontman - and soon had almost the whole field hanging on his word. He finished the set with a question for the audience: “shall I play Live Forever, Wonderwall, or shall I just fuck off?” I'm guessing you can guess the answer. Making for a rousing singalong that you could barely hear him above. Setting the bar very high for the headliner of the evening.
A heavy weight of anticipation lay on the headliners tonight. Firstly they were considered to be a coup for the weekend, being a band who traditionally rarely ‘do festivals’. Secondly they have a reputation for being a phenomenal live band. Finally they have a brace of hits to draw from. Given that mix you'd expect something quite special, and pretty much guaranteed to close the day out on a high. Certainly the packed field seemed to anticipate a great show.
Arriving on stage to the strains of The Beatles ‘Revolution’ things for Depeche Mode started off promisingly enough, and David Gahan moved round the stage snarling out lyrics, while the band thrashed out the signature synth/grunge sound. However as the set carried on a major issue started to become apparent, best summed up by the cry from the bloke stood near me - “Play something we know!” Yes they certainly had the performance there, however unless you were a fan of the band, the decision to open with tracks taken from their moment recent album interspersed with album tracks left you scratching your head - and after the first five songs the crowd bored, started wandering off. Seemingly unaware of how flat they were falling David tried to get the crowd singing along - even if they clearly didn't know what they were meant to be singing along to. Undaunted he carried on, and the crowd continued to thin out too. Eventually after ten songs, they relented and drew a couple of big hits out with "Everything Counts" and "Personal Jesus", but by then it was too late and the damage was done. Even giving a rare airing to their first big hit ‘Just Can't Get Enough’ during the encore felt like a consolation prize, rather than the crowning glory it should have been. Finally closing the set with "Enjoy the Silence", which seemed to make a comment on the audiences reaction.
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