21st-24th June 2018 – 50th Anniversary

Isle Of Wight 2018


In early June this year, I entered a competition to win a pair of tickets for this year’s Isle Of Wight festival. Like most who entered, I’m sure they thought like me, no chance of winning. Four days later confirmation came through that sure enough, I had won the tickets. Once I had them in my hand I booked the ferry and started to look forward to something I thought I’d only experience once in my lifetime. Ten years ago in my early 40’s I came over to the island; mainly to see the Sex Pistols, Iggy, Feeder and The Police. Little did I know back then that I’d be returning some ten years later? My companion for the weekend was never in doubt – erstwhile sidekick, photographer and all round stalwart of the local scene, one Mr. Dave Chinery. Once he found out he was coming I think he was more excited than me! Now bearing in mind that I have been to Rebellion Festival for the last 5 years, this was taking me right back to my Indie roots.

Isle Of Wight 2018

We departed on Thursday an hour early, thanks to those lovely lads at the ferry port. The shuttle bus arrived in decent time and we were in the queue for 2pm. An hour later the tent was up, cider on the go and a chance to search the site and see what (if anything) had changed. Now this wasn’t just any date in the festival calendar, this was IOW at 50! Now I don’t know if its age, but the site seemed so much bigger. With time to kill an early supper was taken and then it was off to the Big Top for the festival pre-gig entertainment.

IOW Festival: Thursday
Bang on 6pm T.Rextasy take to the stage in front of a large, early bird audience. The big top is gradually filling as the band superbly retrace Bolan’s finest from the back catalogue. The main vocalist not only replicates the sound of Bolan’s voice, but all the mannerisms too. It’s a big band experience and they rightly take the long, loud applause they deserve. Missing Hot Tub Time Machine we venture back out to check our surroundings for the weekend. Punters young and old are doing the same. There are at least seven other stages to choose from, with some hosting bands this evening too. With the This Feeling tent just across the way we chance our arm on The Gallery’s, a Mod Revival trio who are decent enough if a little raw around the edges. Bit of work on the song endings would bring them up to speed.

Another look around is taken before we return to catch London’s Black Roses. This Rock quartet are hard hitting and make an early impression. Lead vox/guitarist Anthony has a strong voice, singing with an assured confidence and judging by the crowd reaction they are an early highlight. Even better follows in the shape of Liverpool sextet Red Rum Club. Take a big slice of The Coral, add a smattering of Liverpool’s finest from the Indie scene and you get Red Rum Club. A singer with an infectious smile and swagger to match, he simply charms this full to brimming tent. Film score music with an Indie twist, they make many new friends tonight – clearly ones to watch.

Next up are Swindon’s Yves. This power trio delivers Indie/Rock, Mod Revival gems in a no-nonsense, no fuss style. With the Wombats ready to roll at 9pm sharp it’s back to the Big Top, and like ten years ago on the mainstage they don’t disappoint. I must admit I left Indie behind not long after 2009 so most of their set is new to me. But their old classics sound as fresh as ever. “Let’s Dance to Joy Division” is the first big singalong and the tent is now packed. Moving to New York shares equal billing and again its one mass singalong. At 11pm sharp they depart us but the night is young. And for those young enough there are always the bars playing all the club classics long into the night. The ‘Strongbow Yard’ and Smirnoff Tent are popular destinations while karaoke is king in the “Kiwi Camp”. I always remember IOW 2008 having great variety and I’m glad that hasn’t changed. Us pensioners retire for an early night, awoken only by the over-exuberance of some England fans in good voice in advance of Sunday’s big fixture, singing “it’s Coming Home” over and over at 3am!

IOW Festival: Friday
After barely two hours sleep, a long lie in, some sunbathing and reading (we’re old you know) we surface for refreshment. With an unfeasibly late afternoon commencement of the music we spend most of our morning/afternoon sweltering in the midday sun in the Field of Dreams watching the football. Brazil keep us entertained with two late winners! So at around 15:45 we head for an already packed entrance. First stop for us will be the Big Top to catch a band new to me – Judas. This quartet are clearly popular with the youth and waste no time getting them onside early. The frontman has the widest smile of the weekend and grins continually. I can’t decide whether they are Indie/Rock, straight up Rock or just a clash of genres. They play with a confidence way beyond their years and look comfortable on a large stage. However, they are upstaged by Peter Crouch in the crowd, who seems to be getting all the attention. He is so at home with the punters which is so refreshing to see from a Premiership footballer. Bang Bang Romeo on the mainstage do nothing for me and I depart after two songs to seek new music elsewhere.

Bang Bang Romeo

Bang Bang Romeo 

Over in Cirque de la Querk the Lounge Kittens are offering a different take on Karaoke with some well-chosen covers of bands playing this weekend; in their unique, all female style. Harmonies aplenty but not as you’ve heard them before, mixed in with self-deprecating humour. After this joviality my partner in crime decides a lie down is in order after too much sunshine so I check out Tom Grennan. It’s not my bag but I stay for half his set. He has this Big Top crowd eating out of his palms with his radio-friendly Pop and crooning. I return after supper for Circa Waves, another band from Liverpool making waves at this festival – the Big Top really is setting a marker.

Lounge Kittens
Lounge Kittens 
Circa Waves
Circa Waves 

Again it’s half a set for me as I try and rouse my companion for Feeder. It’s a dream set for fans old and new. Opening with “Just A Feeling” they get everyone’s interest early doors, and proceed to play a set comprising songs from their entire career. Grant (vox) is rabble-rousing early on and this ever-expanding crowd respond – it’s just like 10 years ago!! A huge pit is now growing and they save the best ’til last. The downtempo (newer) intro to “Buck Rogers” keeps a few guessing but once they are in full swing the place erupts. Which leaves them to play the now customary set closer “Just a Day”. The mosh pit is now wild but everyone in the room leaves happy. Years on and the song sounds as fresh as the day it was released. Huge applause in the tent as the band depart which leaves us an arduous trek through the masses to catch Kasabian.

Feeder
Feeder 

The mainstage and surrounding area is quite literally rammed, it’s gonna be a slow descent to get anywhere near the front. But we persevere and it’s worth it. We get to where the sound desk is and that’s our spot for the next hour or so. Kasabian are absolutely smashing it. Swagger, confidence and the ability to own such a big stage. The singalongs are huge and the big numbers are sung in unison. “Club Foot” is immense, bettered only by “Empire”. Serge in his cape takes centre stage, rousing this crowd to join in. Tom (vox) patrols the stage, covering every inch. They throw in a most unlikely cover in ‘Praise You’, but it seems to go down rather well. I will admit; it has been some ten years since my last Kasabian gig, but they show no signs of any let-up. Tonight they owned the stage and it would be hard to see them bettered this weekend. They depart on ‘Fire’ and we make the slow journey back to our tent. The whole audience joins in a chorus of ‘it’s coming home’, which seems to be the soundtrack to the weekend. Unlike the previous evening, we find our tent the first time and at last get some well-earned sleep!

Kasabian
Kasabian 1

IOW Festival: Saturday
A slightly less sun-drenched morning sees some cloud cover but it’s still very humid. We manage a good night’s sleep and head for the main arena around midday. We head straight for our new home the This Feeling tent to catch the first band of the day The Seamonsters. This all-female sextet make a great noise and show some real talent for a band so young. These six Sheffield lasses play a rather distinct girly indie/punk/pop and in singer Naomi have a truly great front (woman). Lunch is then taken and we head to the mainstage.

Slydigs
Slydigs 

We miss Wild Front but stick around for “Slydigs”, a chunky Rock quartet with more than a hint of Garage. This Warrington four-piece have all the moves and influences and quite their own style. We remain until the end and make the short walk to the Hard Rock Stage where Apollo Junction are literally holding court to a large crowd.

Apollo Junction
Apollo Junction 12

They will stay long in the memory if only for the fact that when the lead vocalist is told by the crew they only have three minutes left, he jumps off the stage into the audience and proceeds to walk around the entire area while singing and shaking many a hand.

Pronghorn
Pronghorn 

A short walk sees us head to Cirque to catch Bare Jams, an 8-piece West Country multi-instrumental ensemble. Their sound check takes forever, giving one of the crew a chance to ad lib some poetic lyrics and verse as he proceeds to take centre stage. Finally, they begin and maybe make a few new friends. Bare Jams kind of sums them up, allied to the sometimes harsh vocal. We then venture back into the main arena to the “Platform One Stage” and catch the youthful Honey Bones. This quartet is decent enough but with our combined age of 100-ish we take some well-earned rest near the back. They deliver a confident set to a near-full tent and receive good applause. We stick around for “old friends” Pronghorn. Looking around us it’s sparse, but two numbers in they fill the tent with their brand of harsh Cowpunk. Lamma (lead vox/banjo) is chief rabble-rouser and really whips this afternoon crowd up.

Blossoms
Blossoms 1

We then head back to the mainstage to catch Irish Rock quartet Kodaline. They are good but I’m afraid do nothing for me as I make many a visit to the liquorice seller for some sustenance. We stick around to catch Blossoms straight after and although the vocals are great, one of the guitarists gives us the impression he’d rather be elsewhere; such is his nonchalant stance. It’s back across to Platform One to hear Bluest Boy, an Isle of Wight Grunge trio who remind me of Nirvana fronted by Keds (Senseless Things). Harsh, heavy and overloaded with riffage aplenty I stick around for their entire set.

Kodaline
Kodaline 

Supper is then taken and we make the arduous trek to the Main Stage to catch the one and only Liam Gallagher. His entrance cannot be understated as he laps it up from this huge expectant crowd. He saunters on and delivers a set full of old songs and new. Standout tunes are opener “Rock ‘n Roll Star”, “Wall of Glass” and “Outsider”. He banters and cajoles the entire set but takes umbrage with a front row punter using a laser pen. He ends a great set by saying; you can have “Wonderwall”, “Don’t Look Back in Anger” or we can just F*ck Off!!! This got the biggest cheer and so they perform both and duly depart. Liam tells us to enjoy Depeche Mode and swaggers off. And so to the headliner.

Liam Gallagher
Liam Gallagher 1

Depeche Mode arrive onstage amid huge colourful backdrops and fine effects and a largely simple stage set-up. One by one they walk on, David Gahan last and promptly begin. Having never seen the band live, most of the first half of their set is new to me. Gahan is energetic throughout covering every inch of the stage – running, spinning, jumping – the man is fitness personified. “People are People” and “Personal Jesus” are phenomenal while Martin Gore is not to be outdone with the heartwarming and personal “Somebody”. It’s a “hairs on the back of the neck” moment, bettered only by a rampant “Just Can’t Get Enough”. Gahan is sweating profusely but there is just no let-up in their performance. They leave us to huge applause and more wonderful backdrops. We take our aching bodies slowly back to the tent for a good night’s rest before the final hurrah.

Depeche Mode
Depeche Mode 1234

IOW Festival: Sunday
And so we awake on the Sunday for the last leg. With football firmly in our minds it was just a case of deciding what to do to fill our time before kick-off. With two hours to kill, we head for our favourite haunt of the weekend (This Feeling) to catch openers Violet Youth.

Violet Youth
Violet Youth 

This Lancashire quartet look like Echo and The Bunnymen and have a sound not dissimilar, (with a bit of Jesus & the Mary Chain thrown in for good measure). Singer Owen is sporting a broken wrist and does his best Jim Reid impression, nonchalance personified! The guitars are simply superb and remind me of that whole Post/Punk crossover from years gone by; seriously, ones to watch. We take in our first cider of the day – well I say cider, Strongbow Dark Fruit ice cream to be precise; perfect for a Sunday morning courtesy of the Strongbow Yard.

We return to our earlier destination for Kent’s “Glass Peaks”. Their alt/pop/indie is decent enough but with a certain football match looming large, we knew we needed to get back to the Field of Dreams to secure our spot. Standing room only today and had we left it any longer we would have been watching from another field – the area is packed!! The atmosphere is great, and the banter (and booze) is flowing.

Glass Peaks
Glass Peaks 

With a 6-1 thrashing meted out, we head straight back to the Big Top to catch The Professionals With everyone in a celebratory mood it was always going to be a hard act to follow, but they do well enough in front of a sparse crowd which is ever increasing. “Just Another Dream” is the highlight as they also deliver a set full of newer material. Only one band could possibly follow this – step forward Dunfermline’s finest.

The Professionals
The Professionals 1

The Skids are greeted by a large crowd of 50-somethings who frankly are in the mood to keep the party going. Richard (Jobson) does his usual storytelling but keeps it short with only a 45-minute window. Only one new song is featured today, relying solely on past glories. “Yankee Dollar” and “Masquerade” are early highlights but it’s the finale that gets us jumping. “TV Stars” finds everyone in good voice while “Into the Valley” is saved ’til last – cue Dad dancing and moshing for the over 50’s! As Jobson decried mid-set; stick with us people – we are not going anywhere’! And judging by this performance, nor is their fan base. You just know they mean it.

The Skids
The Skids 

After a catch up with old friends, we make our last stop at Platform One for Claydon Connor (and band). Claydon confidently delivers an articulate and precise set of Americana. Despite this not being to my taste, one cannot argue with their talent as they are really well received by a good sized audience. With some big names still to come on the Main Stage we start heading that way. Van Morrison keeps us entertained with his feel-good songs and has the whole place singing along. He is clearly at home on a large stage and has the punters eating out of his palms. We get right down the front for Manic Street Preachers. I for one was once a massive fan but hadn’t seen them live for years. I suppose my expectation got the better of me because on tonight’s evidence they are so far away from where they once were. Their set is markedly slower almost throughout and the new single wouldn’t be out of place on Radio 2. to me, they just seemed to lack any punch

The Manic Street Preachers
The Manic Street Preachers 12

The same however cannot be said about The Killers who make the wait all the more worthwhile. They seem to take forever to arrive onstage, but when they do they give a performance that would be hard to better on any festival stage in any Country. Brandon (Flowers) is in fine voice, and like Gahan the previous evening uses every inch of the stage. Again the newer material passes me by but once they hit their stride with the “biggies”, this crowd starts to respond. “Reasons Unknown” is an early highlight while “Smile Like You Mean It” ensures the first of many singalongs. Their backdrop and effects overall smash every other band out of the water and the lasers are on another level. While “Mr. Brightside” is hugely popular “I Got Soul” just seems to go on forever and this crowd are lapping it up. It would be remiss of me to pick a best headliner of the weekend but tonight The Killers were on another level. And that was that – or so we thought?

The Killers
The Killers 12

Closing the festival in the Big Top are Travis. Getting to the tent however was another matter. There are so many people heading that way it’s almost 11.30 before we get anywhere near. With our aching limbs we carry on walking towards our tent. However, as we pass the Big Top they are playing ‘Sing’. With a full tent and standing room only everyone joins in on the chorus – “Sing, Sing, Sing”. It’s a wonderful moment that will live long in the memory and the perfect ending to what has been a great weekend.

Videos




Links
http://www.isleofwightfestival.com
https://www.facebook.com/iwfestival/

Words by Ross A Ferrone
Videos & Pictures by Dave Chinery (Chinners)

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