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ISLE OF WIGHT FESTIVAL 2011

| On 26, Jun 2011

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Friday 10th

So here we come, the famous Isle of Wight Festival. This is the first time for me and I’m really excited, you know every festival is fascinating, but the Isle of Wight is like Woodstock, I imagine to find hippies and naked people running through the fields…Actually it happened in London, but that’s another story…

Here people are dressed like perfect festival-goers, wellies and rainproof, weather is changeable and rain is forecasted in the afternoon.

This year the festival is going to celebrate its 10 anniversary, and it started the party collecting a first-rate line-up that sees the likes of Kings of Leon, Kaiser Chiefs, Foo Fighters and Kasabian  among many others, just the kind of bill that will make you rave and party with a good dose of rock.

The travel to reach the site is simply delicious, I always love to sail the sea, especially if it’s quiet and the sun shines among  a herd of clouds, you can smell the ocean and it’s a smell I’ve never sniffed before.

But now stop with the poetry and let’s pass the gates of the temple of music. The site is well laid out, with ‘no queue’ access, a lot of stalls with whatever you want, bars and cafes, and the usual fun fair with the wheel, but the most precious thing of this year is the…BEACH!!!

Yes, tonnes of silvery sands are being delivered to Penny Lane on the Festival site to create the original Festival beach. ‘Life’s a Beach’ is  the perfect place to relax, unwind, re-energise and build sand castles! I laid on deckchairs to rest after a long set and I tried to play yoga to open my third eye, but I guess a lesson is not enough!

So, it’s 4 –ish  and music is gonna start. Big Country open the Main Stage. With the passing of singer, Stuart Adamson and Tony Butler, now lead vocalist, opened in veteran-like style like real Scottish rockers.

A clearly excited Butler said to the swollen masses: “Next year will be the 30th anniversary of our first album but let’s start the celebrations early. I wanna see the restless natives make some noise.”

After blasting out hits such as ‘Field Of Fire’, ‘Inwards’ and ‘Chance’, the bar had been set for the rest of the acts lined up to play this weekend.

I wanted to go to see the Big Top tent, but I can’t miss We Are Scientists! The played a powerful 12-piece set including ‘I Don’t Bite,’ ‘Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt,’ ‘Rules Don’t Stop,’ ‘Dinosaur’ and closing with ‘After Hours’ taken from “Brain Thrust Mastery”. It was the perfect warm up for a wet afternoon, which will see Band of Horses and The Courteeners on stage, the band can spread such an infectious energy in the air, maybe thanks to the untiring guitar that plays nonstop riffs.

After Band of Horses, which pleased the crowd with an intense set , The Courteeners joined the stage, just while the heaven opens with a flood of rain. “An absolute colossal f*cking thank you for coming out in the rain, to every single one of you.”, Liam Fray said thank you to all of us standing in the rain. The quartet played a medley from their two studio albums including ‘Cavorting’, ‘Acrylic’, ‘Not Nineteen Forever’, ‘You Overdid It Doll’ and ‘What Took You So Long’.

I have to admit that the singer was not in a good form, he often went out of tune, maybe he’s lost his voice,  things that happen, but compared to last summer, the guy grew up in charm and it was a very good surprise.

I have just the time to drink a beer and stretch my legs in the beautiful VIP area, then I ran to the Main Stage again to see the so long waited Kaiser Chiefs.

Playing for an hour, the band aired a handful of songs from their new internet-released album ‘The Future Is Medieval’ including single ‘Little Shocks’, as well as new song ‘Kinda Girl You Are’, which doesn’t feature on the album.

Singles ‘Ruby’ and ‘I Predict A Riot’ were also served up by the band provoking a wild moshing among the people pressed on the barrier of first row, with Wilson noting the rather damp conditions they were playing in. “Who gives a shit about a little bit of rain. It’s only water. I’m made of water!” he laughed.

They haven’t played live for two years, but returned with such a determination that made every song a roar. But the surprise haven’t ended yet, in fact the band ended their show by bringing the Olympic torch on stage and frontman Ricky Wilson showed off the unlit golden torch to the crowd, bringing it on halfway through set finale ‘Oh My God’. “You seen this yet?” he asked the Main Stage audience. “This time next year, this’ll be lit… let’s have a huge round of applause for the Olympic torch.”

Absolutely brilliant!

Meanwhile, over in the Big Top tent, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts had already started their headline slot. Former Runaways star treated the crowd to classic hit ‘Cherry Bomb’ as well as ‘I Love Rock’n’Roll’ and Tommy James and the Shondells’ ‘Crimson and Clover’. The band also covered ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’, homage to The Stooges who were also on the festival line-up the following evening.

And now it’s the moment of the headliner! We left them at V Festival last year and now Kings Of Leon come back on stage to showcase the amazing tunes taken from their fourth album ‘Come Around Sundown’, including ‘Radioactive’, ‘Pyro’ and ‘Back Down South’.

Caleb Followill appears more relaxed and joked about having a “porn star” past in a speech to the crowd towards the end of the band’s headline set. He also spoke of how, despite being in the band since 1999, he had only just started to really enjoy life as a rock star.

“I’m trying to learn how to be a good frontman, I’m terrible at it,” he said from the stage. “I’m about to turn 30 years old, and I’m starting to have fun doing this, man. I don’t know why it took me so long. I’ve had a lot of jobs before this… I was a porn star for a while – it didn’t work out.”

They ended the first day with the explosion of “Use Somebody”, “Sex on Fire” and “Black Thumbnail”, with Caleb remembering the people that “We are Kings of Leon”, as they played for the first time in a shabby pub, but they are on the Main Stage, in the beautiful Isle of Wight, with the crowd wowed by their stunning set.

Saturday 11th

Today the weather is a bit more sunny, with white clouds above our head, and a day full of amazing music. We started with Hurts playing their first UK festival slot of 2011.

Passed to the Main Stage, the Manchester duo was accompanied by a string quartet and dancers improving their performance compared to last year, and introducing some new elements like their cover of Kylie Minogue’s ‘Confide In Me’ and a samba version of ‘Better than Love’.

 

Also they included their opera singer for ‘Verona’ and dancers for ‘Wonderful Life’. “It’s a good challenge for us, a pop band at a festival – you’ve got to really try and impress people and win them over,” said Anderson about their performance.

Menawhile The Vaccines are trying to climb to success starting from the Big Top tent. We heard so much about them this year that I forgot that they are  new band, but their performance confirmed their talent also in performing live, so I’m sure they will be on Main Stage next year.

The singer has only to improve his vocal skills, but it’s something that will happen studying and playing live, so they passed the exam. The band played a ten piece set from their first album which included the famous singles, ‘Post Break-Up Sex’ and ‘If You Wanna’.

Returning to the Main Stage I am on time to see Seasick Steve and a wonderful surprise was waiting for the audience.

Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones joined Seasick Steve on stage! The bass legend played on Steve’s recent album ‘You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks’, and reprised his role for his Main Stage set.

They played together ‘Thunderbird’ and it’s important for young people to know these legends of music. Seasick Steve showed people how to make blues, to understand the mastery in making music with your heart. He plays sat with a checked shirt, the baseball hat and the usual long white beard and he’s got an unmistakable style which reflects his way to play music, apparently scruffily, but taking a hard look you can see that he cares of sounds and details.

I can’t tell who will be able to replace him one day, so enjoy him if you have the privilege to stand in front of his stage.

After him another legend joins the stage, Iggy Pop marked his return to the Isle Of Wight Festival with The Stooges by dragging Dave Grohl on stage with him.

The Foo Fighters frontman is set to headline the Main Stage later with his band, and was enjoying watching Iggy and co bring much of their classic 1973 album ‘Raw Power’ to the second day of the festival from the side of stage. Iggy got annoyed that security guards wouldn’t let him drag up crowd members to dance on stage – so he enlisted some VIPs instead.

Foraging into the wings of the stage the singer, stripped to the torso as is custom for his live shows, pulled on VIPs including Grohl, actress Sadie Frost and others including a couple of parents carrying toddlers wearing ear protectors. They danced for the duration of ‘Shake Appeal’ . The band last played the festival in 2008, this time playing a set heavy on ‘Raw Power’ tunes but also featuring garage rock classics ‘Fun House’ and ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’.

We just had to time to take a little break and then the amazing PULP get hold the stage. I have been waiting to see them live for years, I was only 18 when the band split up and I had never seen them live, so this the right moment to do that!

Jarvis Cocker and co, who played the Primavera Sound festival in Spain earlier this month for their first big-scale comeback gig, brought out hits including ‘Disco 2000’ and ‘Common People’ – with the singer noting how long they’d been away from the live scene.

He joked that the band had last played in the UK on “11 June 1981” – when in fact their last UK gig was in 2002. “But we’re better now,” he added. “And there are more people here.” Later he showed off his knowledge of the Isle Of Wight, referring to the locals as “caulkheads” – a term meaning a native of the island.

Cocker also delved into his memory to recall his first visit to the island, telling the audience: “I went to Blackgang Chine as a child and now I return as a man, or sorts.” It wasn’t all cosy memories though – the frontman danced seductively throughout the show and peeled off his jacket and tie, stripper style, while stood on a platform.

He later sarcastically explained of set-closer ‘Common People’: “I hear this was the first dance at the Royal Wedding a couple of months ago.”

Jarvis is sarcastic as usual and we love him for this reason. Also even if ten years passed, the band seemed to work well together if time has never run out.

And now the moment I was waiting for till this morning, ladies and gentlemen, FOO FIGHTERS!!!

Awarded as Godlike Genius by NME, Dave Grohl and his band released a very remarkable album this year, and I want to enjoy every single song.

The Foo Fighters frontman found time to crack a joke during the show too. “What was the last thing the drummer said before he got kicked out of the band?” he asked. “”You guys wanna hear my new song?” replied the band’s drummer Taylor Hawkins, by way of introduction to ‘Cold Day In The Sun’, which features Hawkins on lead vocals. The sticksman also took the spotlight during his drum solo in ‘Monkey Wrench’.

Dave Grohl entertain the audience with the usual energy, screaming so loud that it seems that he was going to spit his vocal cords out, the band played with such a mastery, with stops that give tunes a good dynamic, going from the rock ‘n’ roll of ‘Monkey Wrench’ to the metal sound of ‘White Limo’, where Grohl took a stab at growling.

Foo Fighters are really incredible, guys , the best rock band at the present and I’m talking about the old acceptation of this word, because a song like ‘Times Like This’ , played half acoustic rocks, thanks to the guitar on the backdrop that scratches Dave’s sweet voice.  But when the proper rock  part starts, the crowd stirs up and you thank God for hearing a band like that.

Sunday 12th

We are not lucky as yesterday, today rain is spoiling our fun , but people is used to jump and sing in the storm so we are ready for the last day of this amazing festival.

I realized that it’s the last day because the site seems a battlefield and I can smell the typical acid fragrance that it’s a mixture of alcohol, mud and toilets.

Let’s start with music, today Two Door Cinema Club play the Main Stage on daytime, so let’s go.

The band played in front of a rain-soaked crowd taking the time to praise the punters for not letting the weather dispirit them and talk about their next album.

The set included song from ‘Tourist History’ and the band has really grown up, I love the sweet awkward  expression of the red- haired singer, he appears so innocent, but very determined in performing well.

Also he’s got beautiful vocals, high in tone and very precise, for sure they are one of the most promising band of next years.

They are very popular among young people, they know all songs and sing-along with enthusiasm.

After their performance I need a bit of relax so I take refuge in the VIP area and I think I relaxed too much because I check my watch and I see that Beady Eye are going to start.

Liam Gallagher and his band made his first appearance at the Isle Of Wight Festival on the Main Stage.

Oasis never played at the event but tonight the singer certainly took his chance to make an impression – choosing to wear a huge coat designed in the colours of the Union Jack flag, surely one of the most colourful images of the weekend so far.

The rain was tipping down for the band’s show – as it had been all day – with Liam drily acknowledging the sogginess of the fans. He introduced ‘Kill For A Dream’ as ‘Kill For A Suntan’ and reassured the crowd that they “still look pretty good, mate,” despite their dampness.

His coat wasn’t the only fashion statement he made during the set. He dedicated ‘Man Of Misery’ to “all you Pretty Greens” – a reference to his fashion label, Pretty Green.

As well as playing songs from their debut album ‘Different Gear, Still Speeding’, Beady Eye tried to call the sun playing ‘The Morning Sun’ and ended the set with their their cover of World Of Twist’s ‘Sons Of The Stage’.

And after three days, under the pouring rain I’m still excited because I know that KASABIAN are going to headline this evening.

I’ve just seen them on their warm up tour so I’m prepared to the new two announced songs, but anyway  I can’t wait to listen to them once again.

The setlist is the same, hence they kicked off with ‘Club Foot’, the single that made them famous, and it’s clear why, it’s a punch in your stomach and it’s right to arouse the crowd. Tom thanks people for standing the torrential rain: “Thanks for being here in these fuckin’ rain, God bless you!””

He’s really happy to play at the Isle of Wight and at the end of ‘Empire’ he said to the crowd: “Isle of Wight you are Empire… Can you feel me?”

He seized the opportunity to poke fun at Kings of Leon again, like we did last year at V, introducing the band saying “We are Kings of Leicester”

The show went on with ‘Where did all the love go?’ People sing along enthusiastically , the song is embellished with little gems played by two guitarists who appear really in form tonight.

Underdog is another bomb, people love them, I can feel the magic in the air. The dubstep moment is simply stunning , their sound is more aggressive and forceful, they are already experimenting the sounds chosen for the new album, the guitar solo a la Hendrix gave me the creeps.

The first new song is ‘Velociraptor!’. It’s a rave song, fast, involving, people jumped and danced it immediately, it’s catchy enough, but not predictable.

Other pearls were ‘Misirlou’ from Pulp Fiction stuck on the end of the swinging ‘Fast Fuse’, ‘Vlad the Impaler’ that always stirs up people and the classic ‘LSF’ closing the first part of the set.

‘Switchblade Smiles’ is the other new song, already available in streaming. It’s very dark and catches you unprepared with the heavy synth and dreamy atmospheres broken by screams and sudden changes of tempo. People welcomed the new song with enthusiasm, so Kasabian are on the right way.

After this shock,’Stuntman’, accompanied by a brilliant version of ‘I feel love’, brought back to safe territories and ‘Fire’ ended that amazing show and 10th edition of a festival that this year showed how it can host great music and make you feel comfortable even if the rain comes to spoil people’s fun.

See you next year!

Author: Roberta Capuano

Photos: Isle of Wight Festival Official photographer