Another day at the Victorious Festival and one could not have asked for a better weather. The sun had definitely come along to play, wearing a mighty fine hat and as the residents of Portsmouth were applying another layer of sun-cream Frank Turner took the stage to play his 2090th gig so far. The troubadour treated us to a selection of his finest moments and relayed stories of when he would ” get fucked up” in the very fields we were standing on. The Winchester resident would normally be further up the bill but being what my mum would call a ‘good egg’ he was heading off post set to play a tribute gig at Southampton’s Joiners, but not before he enlisted us to be his backing singers for ‘Photosynthesis’ and ‘I Still Believe’.
The Bog Rolling Stones may not be the world’s greatest Stones tribute act, but they know how to have a good time and made up for their lack of looking or sounding like our favourite OAP rockers by having some of the best one-liners of the day and even having the cheek to throw in a few Beatle’s licks on the way.
Victorious has a fine tradition for having a token Brit-pop band on a Saturday afternoon and this year it was Echobelly. They may not be the house-hold name they once were, but they still managed to bring in quite the crowd of 30 somethings dying to re-live the mid nighties and singing along to ‘King Of The Kerb’ and ‘Great Things’. Sonya Madan has not lost any of her charm and it was great to finally hear one of the shining vocalists of the era.
A band who did make a big impression was The Hunna. I had underestimated their popularity and the quartet drew quite the crowd and possessed the stage presence and craft of a band twice their age. If only Feeder could take a few notes, The Hunna had Victorious in the palms of their hands. When Front man Ryan Potter asked for mosh-pits he go mosh- pits when he asked for us to sing we sang. Let’s hope Potter sticks to rock music or things could get out of hand. The Hertfordshire boys could make a serious splash when they release their next album later on in the year.
Feeder are currently celebrating their 25th anniversary as a band and have certainly had a career of massive ups and downs and today’s performance is surely not going to be one for the scrapbook. They were bogged down in sound-issues and guitar trouble and really didn’t seem to be enjoying themselves. They played old favourites like ‘Lost n Found’ and ‘Just a Feeling’ but they lacked the spark of ten years ago and I made my way to other Castle stage to check out a band who rarely disappoint – British Sea Power. There a few bands who can polarise an audience as much as BSP and one had to laugh at the absolute bemusement of a line of hardcore Rita Ora fans who were sat by the front fence waiting for their idols’ headline set later on that night. They sat facing away from the stage in their Ora memorabilia chain smoking and looking in despair at a group of middle-aged men waving foliage around to ‘Waving Flags’ and giant bears dancing. The poor kids were set for a bumpy afternoon with Frightened Rabbit and Band of Skulls to follow.
It would take a spell bounding display for Maximo Park to eclipse BSP set back on the main stage and Paul Smith was certainly up for the task. They did Newcastle proud and delivered a set full of fan favourites with a selection of new material, though even Smith mocked the decline of the bands popularity by announcing ‘What Equals Love’ as “absolutely not a hit single”. Still ‘Our Velocity’ and ‘Apply Some Pressure’ sounded amazing and Smith again proved to be a singer who deserves to be fronting a more successful band.
Jake Bugg sadly failed to offer up much excitement and after a few songs it became time to abandon him; and the blues-rock of the Band of Skulls seemed like a far more interesting prospect. Though hailing from rival town the ‘scummers’ (as the locals fondly describe Southampton residents) you could expect some friction from the Victorious massive, but the trip must have bought along some of their neighbours as there was a whole lot of love for the band (obviously disregarding incredibly resilient Rita Ora fans still sat at the front). We were treated to one of the weekend’s best performances with a set that included ‘Sweet n Sour’, ‘Fire’ and ‘Nightmares’.
The headliners of the day were the legendary Stereophonics. The quartet certainly looked the part, dressed up like Top man models in sun glasses and leather jackets and skinny jeans something that not many 43 year olds could pull off, Kelly Jones must be using the same witchcraft as Paul Rudd and has looked 30 years old for the past 20 years. ‘C’est La Vie’ began their 20 song set, which spanned their all the way back to their 1997 debut album ‘Word Gets Around and the crowd lapped up some of their earliest hits like ‘Local Boy In A Photograph and ‘A Thousand Trees’. Though this was not a show for looking back, The Stereophonics relied heavily on their most recent album without alienating some of the fair weather fans. There was enough material to satisfy everyone and classic rock medley resuscitated some of the older less engaged audience members. Kelly Jones was quieter than usual, though the lack of anecdotes may have been to fit in as much music as possible. The left the stage seconds before their curfew after a barnstorming version of ‘Dakota’. The fireworks lit up the nights sky and the festival revellers shuffled drunkenly out of the common repeatedly singing to their favourite Welsh act.
Photo: Strong Island Media/Victorious Festival