a hot V Festival feels like being in an episode of The Only Way Is Essex

V Festival (Chelmsford) 2012 review

published: Wed 22nd Aug 2012

around the festival site (1)

Saturday 18th to Sunday 19th August 2012
Hylands Park, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 8WQ, England MAP
£175 w/e with camping
daily capacity: 90000
last updated: Wed 15th Aug 2012

Today's music charts are like a game of Where's Wally? Only the game is called where's the guitar band, and the same could be said of this year's V Festival line-up. The highly commercial festival, back in the stunning surroundings of Hylands Park for a 17th consecutive year, always has catered to the airwaves of Radio One, which unfortunately sees an alarming lack of good old fashioned guitar bands these days.

around the festival site (1)
It's still the guitar bands that have the pulling power however, with The Killers, Snow Patrol, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds and the reformed Stone Roses topping this years bill. Below this, the line-up starts to get rather thin on true guitar bands and I've made it my mission over the next two days to track these bands down.

Looking around the crowd here in Hylands Park, I do feel as though I've walked in on an episode of The Only Way Is Essex; but on to the music and kicking off the festivities on the main stage this year are geeky Scottish duo The Proclaimers. The Reid brothers instigate a mass sing-a-long to their drunken karaoke anthem 'I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)', but other than this offer very little.

Rodrigo Y Gabriela
Next on the main stage are Mexican guitar maestros Rodrigo Y Gabriela. The duo, who for the first time now feature backing musicians start off well, but do drag in the middle. However they win the crowd back at the end when covering Metallica, which gets the crowd moving despite the heat.

Having spent all summer complaining about the lack of sun and being typically British we all find ourselves now complaining it's too hot. The heat this weekend is absurd, as is the price of £2.20 for a bottle of water. There is also a shocking lack of free water points, meaning that the queues for these points stretch as far as the eyes can see.

Emeli Sande
Fresh from performing at both the Olympic Opening and Closing ceremonies, Emeli Sande takes the main stage to a huge crowd. Sande plays a wonderful set of songs which demonstrate her powerful songwriting. From set opener 'Heaven' to fantastic finisher 'Next To Me', Sande has the crowd in the palm of her hand, and 'Read All About It' provides another mass sing-a-long for the delighted crowd.

Today's line-up leaves me with little choice but to sit on the main stage for most of the day, and next up is James Morrison. Morrison readily admits his fan base is mostly comprised of females, and songs such as 'Broken Strings', 'Wonderful World' and 'You Give Me Something' keep the ladies happy.

Keane are back with a new album, 'Strangeland', and an arena tour booked for later in the year. Today however they are playing the main stage at V Festival and singer Tom Chaplin is in fine form as the band showcase 'Disconnected', 'Silenced By The Night' and 'Sovereign Light Cafe' from their new album. Keane specialise in songs that can make a grown man cry and ‘Somewhere Only We Know’, 'Bedshaped' and 'Is It Any Wonder' round off a stunning performance from a band that keeps on delivering top notch music.

As we await the arrival of rapper Example, we are treated to a display by the British Army's Parachute Regiment display team, the Red Devils. Example then gets the place bouncing with an energetic show including singles 'Kickstarts' and 'Changed The Way You Kiss Me'.

On 22nd August 2009 in Weston Park, Oasis headlined V Festival. This would turn out to be the bands final performance. The very next night the Gallagher brothers were due onstage here in Hylands Park, however they never made it. Viral laryngitis said the official statement, but days later the band were no more. Tonight Noel Gallagher has made it, and he is set to sub-headline the festival with his solo group Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds.

Noel Gallaghers High Flying Birds
Kicking of his brilliant set with Oasis song '(It's Good) To Be Free', you can’t help but feel this is a shot at his absent brother. The group’s debut album hit the number one spot, and has spawned a number of great singles which receive an airing next. 'Everybody's On The Run', 'Dream On', 'If I Had A Gun...', 'The Death Of You And Me' and '(I Wanna Live In A Dream In My) Record Machine', show what a great songwriter the older Gallagher is.

Early on in the set Gallagher laughs off a "where's Liam?" shout from the crowd, saying "where's Ian (Brown), he's backstage". They then dip back into the Oasis catalogue for a well received rendition of 'Supersonic', which Gallagher dedicates to Olympic hero and double gold medallist Mo Farah.

The rest of the show is a mix of solo songs such as 'AKA...What A Life!', 'AKA...Broken Arrow' and '(Stranded On) The Wrong Beach' and Oasis tracks 'Talk Tonight', 'Half The World Away' and 'Whatever'. Gallagher and co finish their slot by getting the crowd singing along to Oasis classics 'Little By Little' and 'Don't Look Back In Anger', and leaving us wondering, Liam who?

I then get the opportunity to sample singer-songwriter Delilah in the Undercover tent. As I enter I can see that the tent is almost empty, and it's soon apparent why. I can only last a few songs before heading back to the main stage, as I find her so boring.

The Stone Roses
The reformation after fifteen years of Madchester band The Stone Roses has been billed as the event of the summer. Personally I've never got the hype that has surrounded the group, but it's time for me to see for myself. Unfortunately they come across to me as outdated. To me Ian Brown and friends are just going through the motions to make money. As I've mentioned, I've never been a huge fan, but I had hoped they would convert me. I however just found them so dull, that I decide not to live in the past, but to look to the future.

Ed Sheeran
It's for this reason I make my way across the arena, past superstar DJ David Guetta on the second stage, all the way to the third stage. Headlining is talented singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, who has the crowd spilling out the sides of the large tent. With hit songs like 'Drunk', 'Small Bump', 'Lego House' and 'The A Team', Sheeran has the crowd singing every word.

Midway through his set we are treated to a guest spot by Example as the pair perform Examples massive hit 'Changed The Way You Kiss Me'. The guest spots don't stop there with Mikill Pane joining him on 'Little Lady' and Rizzle Kicks popping in during an extended version of 'You Need Me, I Don't Need You'. Sheeran saves my night and as I make my way from the tent at the end of the night, I feel fully justified with my decision. Ed Sheeran is a ray of light for guitar music in these dark days.
review by: Paul Barnes

photos by: Denis Gorbatov

Saturday 18th to Sunday 19th August 2012
Hylands Park, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 8WQ, England MAP
£175 w/e with camping
daily capacity: 90000
last updated: Wed 15th Aug 2012

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