Quite possibly my favourite weekend on the calendar, the Isle of Wight Festival returned to Seaclose Park boasting a line-up with quite simply something for everyone. Owing to my final exams, I wasn’t able to attend the Thursday of the festival (those who did go saw sets from Wet Wet Wet and Heather Small), so here’s what went down over the rest of the weekend.
The first band I saw on the Friday were London indie four-piece Sea Girls. Despite not having released an album yet (their debut is due early 2020), they played to a busy Big Top crowd, with some of their most loyal fans shouting every word. Frontman Henry Camamile was dressed in a red suit and he is a fantastic frontman, with all the energy and charisma needed. They appeared on the BBC Sound of 2019 list earlier this year, so expect big things from them in the future.
The next artist I saw was Lily Allen. Though she isn’t what I usually listen to, she put on a decent performance despite some sound issues at the beginning which were quickly resolved. She performed a range of old and new songs, along with a 2 minutes silence for the Grenfell fire tragedy in 2017.
Lily Allen on the main stage
The act I was most looking forward to over the weekend was Courteeners. They had an hour-long set and got the crowd jumping and moshing with their indie-rock bangers. Particular highlights for me were Are You in Love with a Motion, Modern Love and their biggest hit Not Nineteen Forever which really got the crowd going. They also performed a new song, Heavy Jacket, which I really enjoyed and am looking forward to the studio release.
After Courteeners had finished, the anticipation for the night’s headliners Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds kicked in. I’m a big fan of Noel’s solo music and Oasis, and I enjoyed his brother Liam’s headline set last year, despite some voice issues. Noel started off with some newer songs, including Holy Mountain and his latest single Black Star Dancing. They also performed Oasis classics Wonderwall and Don’t Look Back in Anger and finished off the set with a crowd pleasing cover of The Beatles’ All You Need is Love. It was a fantastic way to finish the first night.
I got to the site on the Saturday at around 3:00 in time to watch rising indie band from Reading, Sundara Karma. They recently released their second album Ulfilas’ Alphabet to cricial acclaim, the Bowie influences on it were a big departure from their debut and they shone out in their performance. They are definitely a band to watch for the future.
Next I ventured over to the Big Top quickly to upcoming Canadian band Palaye Royale, made up of three brothers. They have a very eclectic style, and all of them portray themselves on stage as ‘characters’ (they describe their style as ‘fashion rock’). They were perhaps much heavier than anyone else on the bill, and probably more suited to the Download Festival crowd that they played to the next day. But lead singer Remington Leith had the crowd on his side, and even ventured his way into the audience.
I returned to the main stage to catch the second half of 80s legend Rick Astley, I had already seen him the month before supporting Take That in a sold-out arena. The atmosphere was very much the same here, with his cover of Calvin Harris & Rag’n’Bone Man’s Giant as well as his huge hit Never Gonna Give You Up particularly moving the crowd.
One of my most anticipated acts of the weekend was Doncaster musician Dominic Harrison, known as Yungblud. His mix of rock, indie and pop has hugely lifted his career in the last year, and has a very loyal fanbase. He performed much of his debut album, as well as his two new singles released this year. He performed to one of the best crowds of the weekend, with a long applause occuring after his performance of Polygraph Eyes. After his performance, he met and signed items for fans, despite security trying to stop him. Yungblud’s energy is one of the main draws to his live performances, and interacted with the crowd throughout the performance. Yungblud was replacing Sam Fender, who pulled out due to illness just a few days before, and Yungblud himself was supposed to be in America – but his passport had been stolen.
Once more, I ventured to the Big Top to watch indie pop band Friendly Fires, who replaces Cage The Elephant who pulled out due to injury. I was excited to see Friendly Fires as I’ve been a big fan, and they returned just last year after they went on hiatus in 2014. Their dance-influenced songs pulled a decent crowd who grooved along with frontman Ed Macfarlane – he has a unique style of dancing that has become synonymous with their live shows.
I began the final day slightly later than previous, first seeing Norweigan pop singer Sigrid on the Main Stage. There’s been a lot of interest about her since she won the BBC Sound of 2018 poll, so I was curious to see what the hype was about. Despite a few sound issues towards the end, she put on a fantastic show. Her big hits Don’t Feel Like Crying and Strangers were particular highlights.
Later on, I made sure I was right at the front for Bristol punk band Idles, who have had a large rise over the last year with the release of their second album Joy as an Act of Resistance. They played songs of that album, as well as their debut Brutalism and the energy in the crowd was immense. Mosh pits for every song, and their guitarists Lee Kiernan and Mark Bowen both came out into the crowd – with Kiernan crowd surfing.
I finished the weekend by seeing my most anticipated headliner, Biffy Clyro – who last headlined in 2014. They played songs from across their career and many albums, including a couple for their new soundtrack for the film Balance, Not Symmetry. Once again, the crowd at the front was fantastic, and the stage production really brough their music to life. As Jess Glynne had cancelled, it allowed them to perform a slightly longer set – much to my pleasure.
So another festival is over! “Bring on next year!” I say. The festival’s gone for arguably smaller headliners than previous years, but with a much stronger undercard. My predictions for next year’s headliners are Royal Blood, Foals and Florence + the Machine.