Final day down on Southsea common and it was another scorcher. Armed police were guarded the entrance (which is becoming increasingly common since the recent tragic events at music events, but is still slightly alarming to witness)- though regardless of their presence, teenagers were finding it all too easy to jump over the barriers for a lovely free festival. This may explain why there were so many gangs of non-music fans in attendance who were seemingly there just to have a ‘good time’ and not enjoy say The Dandy Warhols down at the main stage.
The Dandy’s were the first international act of the weekend and bought quite the crowd down to check out their stoner-indie vibes. Courtney Taylor Taylor has become even more laid back than when I last saw them ten years ago and the band barely move throughout most of their set which featured ‘Get Off’, ‘We Used To Be Friends’ and of-course ‘Bohemiam Like You’. The latter obviously received the biggest reaction, but the band seemed to whizz through it as fast as they could- as if they had to play it as part of their contract. Sadly their wasn’t time for ‘Everyday Should be A Holiday’ as the band focused on more of their newer tuneless material. In their early days they used to be compared to Duran Duran, now they sound more like Duran Duran if they switched to weed.
Slow Readers Club have been creating a buzz around the country and especially up in their homeland of Manchester. They were invited back after last years well received sets and now have their own legion of ‘Readers’ ( mainly middle aged men) who followed them from their earlier Common stage slot all the way to the Seaside stage. The quartet declared their love for the festival and apologised for so many weather inspired tracks before performing a stand out set of new wave anthems such as ‘I Saw A Ghost’ and ‘ Plant The Seed’, think early- Simple Minds and Editors, they are doing exceptionally well for an unsigned act.
Back on the Common stage Turin Brakes were strumming their way through their 00’s hits, I stayed for their 2003 hit ‘Painkiller’ and then decided to make a move to discover Toy on the Castle stage. They had the appearance of a jumble sale, each member dressed and looked as if they were stolen from a completely different band. Their long psychedelic jams didn’t really do it for the Victorious crowd, one grumpy member asked his friend ” who even are these guys, they can at least say hell and who they are”. Victorious festival – where they really like a traditional introduction.
Field Music had possible the smallest crowd of the day and they tried their best to engage with the crowd but to little effect and many chose to chat with friends. When front man David Brewis announced that their next song would be ‘Disappointed’ they perfectly summed up their set. I guess a 00’s Style Council was not welcome, the main stage was in need of some crowd pleasing acts and Turin Brakes followed by Field Music was an uninspired decision. I had a wonder around the festival to take in what else was on offer, the usual circus tents for kids and work-shops were all in attendance- but one discovery was a local alternative choir The Southsea Alternative Choir to be exact, they sang out some crowd-pleasing indie bangers. ‘Made of Stone’, ‘Valerie’ and Motown medleys were exactly what the people wanted and should have been on a bigger stage, than just a tent in a car park.
The disappointment continued on the main stage. A few weeks a go Jesus and Mary Chain had sadly cancelled and Peter Doherty was announced as their replacement (which created quite the storm on the festival’s page). The Libertine strolled out looked worse for wear and a performed one of the most shambolic shows I have ever seen, there are some loyal apologists who adore his damaged artist persona. But what was on show was just amateur. Doherty played a set of strictly his solo material with just ‘You’re My Waterloo’ from The Libertines. One would have imagined that he would drop in some of his better known hits as being a last minute replacement would mean that there would hardly be many of his own fan base. Lowlights or highlights depending on your sense of humour were Pete dancing with security guards and then struggle to get back on stage, when he eventually got up he sang into his hand as he had forgotten he had left the microphone on stage. Doherty didn’t seem to care for the audience, and thought fine to bring out a pink haired girl called Hannah a few times to delight us with poetry. The band kept having to stop and start songs and had an air of panic throughout the 45 minute set which felt much longer. Doherty thanked the Southampton audience for coming (unsure of this as being a joke or just being too intoxicated to remember) the Portsmouth crowd responded with more booing and eventually the gig was saved when they pulled the plug on his set. It took a while for him to realise he was inaudible and then decided to not the leave the stage until security had to carry him off. Just a painful watch we will remember this for years to come for the wrong reasons; Doherty will have forgotten all about it by tomorrow.
At least Temples on the Castle stage knew how to put on a performance and they also won the medal for the best dressed, with keyboardist/guitarist Adam Smith looking so stylish by actually looking like a mannequin. Their mix of psychedelic electro and prog-rock may sound like a disaster, but they create such a beautiful noise , that passers by had to stop and take in tracks like ‘Certainty’ and ‘Strange Or Be Forgotten'(including half of the Dandy Warhols). Franz Ferdinand had to have quite the game to out shine the boys from Kettering and that they did.
The new line-up of FF (with added keyboards) just delivered one of the best performances of the weekend. They played a set full of their biggest hits and just knew how to win over an audience. Even Alex Kapronos‘ new strikingly white hair didn’t sway the punters, who lapped up everything they had to offer including their massive hits ‘Take Me Out’ and ‘Do you Want To’. Even the newer material like ‘ Love Illumination’ fitted straight in alongside their classic selections. But it was the set closer ‘This Fire’ that will stay in my mind for years to come. Kapromos managed to get around 40 000 people to sit on the ground and refused to restart the song until satisfied. Not a new trick as band’s have been doing this for years but not as many manage to have so many join in and when the track finally built back up for the final rousing chorus I have not seen so many smiling faces in a long time – including a weekend in Disneyland. Well done Franz Ferdinand you still have it.
It was down to Elbow to close the weekend. A band with a wealth of experience are surely capable of such a challenge. Guy Garvey is the everyman who has found himself in one of the country’s most successful indie bands and he treats each gig with the same ease as when Elbow were playing bars and clubs back in the day. He chats with ease to the thousands in attendance and has a voice that can be strong can satisfy the soul. Though they steer clear of most of their pre-Mercury prize winning Seldom Seen Kid, the Manchester band still have a vast amount of material to please their fans or as Garvey calls us ” beautiful creatures”. He enjoyed standing at the front of stage hands aloft conducting our cheers and voices and continued to flirt with us calling us “gorgeous, great people”. He obviously didn’t have the same view as me and didn’t notice the sunken eyed gents struggling on their third night of drinking. We were all instructed in taking part in a reverse Mexican wave (the audience crouches in turns from the front to the back of the arena)it was only a bit dodgy when were later asked to reach out to the person next to us and give them a hug – I was next to a ten year old boy and chose to steer clear of his wishes. When Garvey stopped his praise, the band performed magnificently – Highlights would include ‘Bones of You’, ‘Magnificent’ and ‘Lippy Kids’. They managed to make the entire crowd hush for the entire song. We only made a sound to whistle when promoted from our band leader Garvey. A truly moving experience. The band had to be reminded by festival staff about the curfew and they seemed sad to let us go, but they still made sure they had time for their standard closing track ‘One Day Like This’, backed by live strings and our ‘angelic’ voices it was a perfect end to the festival.
‘Til next time Victorious.
Photo: Strong Island Media/Victorious Festival