Sunday at Victorious saw the venue swath etched in a sea breeze, so temperatures weren't quite as muggy as yesterday, and at points seemed chilly. What is nice about this festival is that there are several entrances, the main entrance from the carpark brings you straight into the main arena, but there is also another large entrance at the back of the main arena coming straight in from the town and into the melee of children's area and smaller stages.
Following yesterday's whirlwind of stage jumping we decided that we would take things a little slower today, so settled down to watch The Slow Readers Club on the main stage. This band are a new discovery for us and one that we will be keeping an eye out for in the future. Frontman Aaron Starkie’s clear vocal soaring over electro rock brought to mind Interpol – not a bad thing at all.
As the site seemed quiet we used the time between sets to re-explore the site layout, taking in salsa dancing at the Round the World stage. The festival has a wide range of children's activities that make the best use of a long avenue, with tennis nets and other activities interspersed with the more traditional fairground rides. The site brings you round full circle, so when we came back into the main arena for Will Young it was a surprise to see how quickly the arena had filled up. It seemed an unusually early slot for Will given the virtual unknowns either side of him, but he explained he was flying off to Manchester afterwards for a Pride show. He certainly didn't waste any time giving the crowd a fun-filled whirlwind tour of the hits, before singing a cover of Bowie's Let's Dance from a silver glitter encrusted invalid scooter with a keyboard strapped to the front! Cheesy he may be, but it’s hard not to like the man, who lacks the ‘celeb’ ego of many of his fellow pop stars, and who seems happy to play any stage at any time, ensuring that you always get the best of him.
We then took the opportunity to catch up with a few friends by the Acoustic stage, catching the tail end of Jimmi And The Jaffa cakes and a show form busiest band of the weekend – Southsea Alternative Choir a local supergroup made up of members of half a dozen local bands ( they played at least six sets over the weekend in addition to performances with their own bands), they are a covers band they do a great show filled with big singalong anthems from all eras. This also gave us opportunity to try one of the great number of bars. There are plenty of bars across the site so queues are never much of an issue. and also they have to be congratulated on a decent choice - especially as this is the first festival I’ve been to in ages that carries an ale as standard rather than only in specialist areas – a rather nice Cornish brewed IPA with a light grapefruit flavour (and a hoppy finish of course!). The food stalls are well distributed throughout the site with plenty of different options, at reasonable festival average prices.
The main stage seemed to have most of the pull for us today so it was back to the main arena for Space. It's been almost twenty years to the day since I last saw this band, and I have to say that they didn’t quite catch the energy and quirkiness that they had the first time round, and while the big hits were good for a singalong, they lacked the cheeky charm that made this band big in the 90s.
One of the acts we were looking forward to see were local Southsea-based band Kassassin Street, who never seem to put on a bad show, and definitely worth checking out before they undoubtedly make it bigger - there is an amazing maturity for an act as young as they are, and it’s amazing to think that they have yet to release a full album yet.
They were performing on the seaside stage, which while one of the more picturesque areas with a clear view of the Solent, was the one area of the festival that suffered from crowding, at one point having to queue just to get into the natural arena on the very outskirts of the coastline, once you were through you then had to fight your way through an unmoving crowd at the back of the arena, but once past this there was actually a lot of room to move around.
For the final three acts of the day it was all back into the main arena, with a typically good set from Public Service Broadcasting. Followed by a total contrast from Echo and the Bunnymen who were determined to give a mean and moody performance with Very low lighting on stage and also turning off the large video screens to the side, a shame for those further back who are sometimes dependent on these screens to see anything, but they obviously didn't want any distraction from their music, and they certainly pit in a first class performance with Ian McCulloch’s voice (something that can be occasionally shakey) as good as it’s ever been, and we were treated to hits such as Killing Moon, The Cutter and Nothing Lasts Forever.
Final act on main stage was Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, who while put in a good show, although you get a sense that everyone in the audience are marking time while waiting for him to the Oasis material, at which point the crowd really comes alive.
Although the curfew again means an early finish for those of us used to camping festivals, the fresh sea breeze and occasional drizzle that marked the weather today found us almost grateful to return to the car for the journey home. But as we left we found ourselves planning for next years festival - always a good sign for a first time. Although still a fairly young festival, Victorious has found it’s feet and settled into it’s space quite well, managing to balance being a big name festival while still feeling like a local festival, and certainly worth checking out of you haven’t before.
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