Festival season has officially begun! The Isle of Wight Festival opened its fields and campsites to festival-lovers who were eager to fill their ears with the sounds of The Black Keys, The Prodigy, Blur and the inimitable Fleetwood Mac. Below are a handful of acts who entertained both minor and major crowds this weekend.
FRIDAY 12th JUNE
The heavens opened before The Black Keys took to the stage on Friday night, but that didn’t deter fans from staying to watch blues-based duo Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney.
With the help of session musicians, the pair performed a sixteen track set which included Brothers songs ‘Next Girl’, ‘Howlin’ For You’ and ‘Tighten Up’, as well as El Camino favourites ‘Lonely Boy’ and ‘Gold On The Ceiling’. They finished their blues soaked (and rain soaked) set with ‘Little Black Submarines’.
Twenty-five years since they hit the electronic dance scene, The Prodigy proved to the Isle Of Wight that they’re still as anarchic as ever. The rain continued to pour as they took to the main stage after The Black Keys, but the water simply acted like fuel on fire; igniting mosh pits and sparking serious raving throughout the crowd. Front man Keith Flint thundered through ‘Invaders Must Die’, ‘Breathe’ and ‘Firestarter’, before inviting Jason Williamson of Sleaford Mods to the stage for the aggressive and excellent ‘Ibiza’.
SATURDAY 13th JUNE
La Femme brought their mix of “electro, bizarre, witch wave” to The Big Top Stage on Saturday afternoon. Whilst their lyrics are predominantly French, their enthusiastic dancing and electronic beats transcended language barriers and entertained the English-speaking crowd. The Parisian five-piece kept bodies bopping thanks to tracks like ‘Sur La Planche’ and ‘Si Un Jour’, making them a memorable act from the weekend’s otherwise top-heavy bill.
Electronic duo Chicks On Speed followed La Femme’s set. If you’ve ever wanted to be a woman, or try drugs; leave the biological difficulties and illegal repercussions to one side and come to see this band. Alex Murray-Leslie and Melissa Logan vogued their way through dance tracks ‘Utopia’, ‘Glamour Girls’, and parody-like tunes ‘We Don’t Play Guitars’, before performing a cover of Rockwell’s ‘Someone’s Watching Me’.
They were joined on-stage by a crop-top wearing, neon-clad dancer, with fluorescent and plastic accessories which she used as she prowled the stage, interacting with the girls, and staring out in to the distance (presumably not on speed, but high on performance art). Unfortunately, technical difficulties with the duo’s high-heel shaped instruments disrupted the set, but Chicks on Speed will remain in the visual memory for the foreseeable future.
Later in the evening, Findlay took to The Isle Of Wight’s Jack Rocks Stage to show festival-goers how to smash a small venue. Having recently supported Brandon Flowers at Brixton Academy, Singer Natalie Findlay proved once again she’s not “just a girl with a microphone” but a woman with ‘Electric Bones’ who knows how to hold the attention of the crowd. Highlights of the set included tracks ‘Off & On’ and ‘Greasy Love’. The thrashing guitars on both thrilled the crowds.
Saturday’s headliners were Britpop giants Blur. They opened their set with new track ‘Go Out’, taken from new album The Magic Whip (their in twelve years). The band powered through a mammoth set of songs both old and new. Alex James looked cool as ever, playing bass and smoking his cigarette, whilst front man Damon Albarn swaggered impressively across the stage throughout the performance. Albarn even apologised for the quality of his voice, explaining that it was non-existent just 24 hours before the festival.
The crowd were ecstatic when Albarn invited Phil Daniels to the stage for ‘Parklife’, thrusting themselves around, chanting along to the memorable lyrics. Their energy was rewarded with a knock-out rendition of ‘Song 2’ straight afterwards. Blur closed their Sunday set with ‘The Universal’ and a rapturous applause from the crowd.
SUNDAY 14th JUNE
Sunday afternoon saw Pretty Vicious live up to their name, performing at The Big Top Stage with impressive tenacity. The teenage four-piece from Wales ripped through their set which included tracks ‘Cave Song’ and ‘It’s Always There’. The band have only been together for a year, but if their Isle of Wight performance is anything to go by, filled with heavy bass lines and accurately aimed aggression, these boys are set for big things in the future.
Mellow music followed on the same stage, and lovers of upbeat electronic rock should definitely aim to see Coasts on their upcoming UK tour. Chris Caines, front man of the Bristol/Norwich based five-piece, sang strong, romantic vocals which filled The Big Top tent with aural optimism. The infusions of keyboard and guitar on tracks such as ‘Modern Love’, ‘Oceans’ and ‘A Rush of Blood’ had the crowd drifting in and out of a rock/electronic lullaby.
As the sun began to set, the majority of ticket-holders headed toward the main stage for one reason: Fleetwood Mac. The Brit-award winning, musical legends played to an adoring (and relieved) crowd on Sunday night. The band cancelled both their Birmingham and Manchester shows earlier in the week due to illness, so their appearance at Isle Of Wight felt even more precious.
Opening with ‘The Chain’; Stevie Nicks, Christie McVie, John McVie, Lindsey Buckingham and Mick Fleetwood played a flawless two hour set. Emotions ran high during ‘Dreams’, ‘Second Hand News’ and ‘Gypsy’, and as expected; Buckingham’s guitar solo during ‘Big Love’ was a knockout (and something the crowd could’ve comfortably listened to on repeat all night).
Stevie Nicks dedicated ‘Landslide’ to Foo Fighter’s Dave Grohl, who is currently in hospital recovering from a broken leg (Nicks featured in Grohl’s ‘Sound City’ documentary in 2013). If that doesn’t aid his recovery, nothing will.
The band closed with ‘Don’t Stop’ and were rewarded with wild applause. Mick Fleetwood briefly returned to the stage to personally thank the crowd, and reminded them to “be kind” in this beautiful but cruel world. Mr. Fleetwood’s words are no doubt, still ringing in everyone’s ears post-festival.