Isle of Wight Festival
Isle of Wight Festival 2009
By Victoria Bartlett
The curtain has come down on another Isle of Wight Festival - now one of the biggest events in the festival calendar.
This year's Isle of Wight festival has come to a close with a nostalgic set from Neil Young rounding off a weekend featuring the mix of fresh talent and legendary big names for which the festival has become reknowned since its resurrection in 2002.
Festival arrivals (PA)
On Thursday, those that came over a day early were looking forward to the weekend: "Great music, and the weather's always good!" said one; "I feel relaxed and chilled and having a good time." added another.
It was definitely worth arriving early this year as the campsites filled up incredibly quickly - and it meant you got to see Human League perform.
Canadian veteran rocker Neil Young headlined this year's sold-out festival. The 63-year-old singer songwriter recorded three consecutive number one albums as Crosby, Stills Nash and Young, often dubbed "the American Beatles".
There were questions being asked amongst the campers - especially the younger contingent - whether he was the right choice as the final headliner - some tents flying the flag saying "Neil Who?".
Kelly Jones of Stereophonics (AP Photo/Joel Ryan)
This was illustrated further by a relatively quiet crowd for a top billing - especially in comparison to previous year's headliners, such as The Police and The Rolling Stones. Neil Young also finished his set fifteen minutes earlier than planned.
But the latter part of his set had a good vibe and tracks such as Rockin In the Free World and his cover of the The Beatles hit Day in the Life picked up the atmosphere.
He was preceded by the legendary US alt-rockers, Pixies, who originally split in 1993 - they reformed in 2004 for a series of tours but had not performed for more than a year.
Kim Deal, one of the members of Pixies, looked thrilled to be back on stage and didn't stop grinning from ear to ear. There was a bit of bickering between her and Black Francis when a couple of mistakes were made - but this was amusing rather than irritating. The crowd just saw it as part of the entertainment and forgave them.
Meanwhile, the Charlatans rocked out on the indoor stage. They were a very traditional festival-closer and definitely a crowd-pleaser. Their mixture of old and new hits went down well and finished the festival with a smile.
Friday night in the Big Top saw other 80s icons, Bananarama - the definitive girl band have scored ten top-ten UK singles, three U.S. top-ten hits and a US number one during their 25 year career.
The festival campsite (PA)
It was a retro band that was eagerly anticipated, but on the night they were fairly disappointing. Although all the hits were sung, they were a little lack-lustre and at times even looked clumsy.
Razorlight and Stereophonics topped the Saturday night line up. Johnny Borrell made little attempt to interact with the crowd. Although the younger members of the audience didn't mind and loved the performance, some people wished they'd been over at the Big Top watching Calvin Harris instead.
Stereophonics were worth getting to the front for though - a fantastic set of anthemic songs that the crowd were enjoying at the top of their voices throughout.
Friday night's line up was packed with energy and was the best day of the festival.
Included in that was The Prodigy - who attracted a massive crowd and got a great response to their impressive set of new and old hits; Basement Jaxx - who sang lots of tongue-in-cheek lyrics, had many flamboyant costume changes, and got everyone dancing; and The Ting Tings - who were enthusiastic, quirky and fun.
New Zealand's Ladyhawke, Strictly Come Dancing Winner Alesha Dixon, The Noisettes, Beverley Knight, Eddi Reader and Pixie Lott completed the ultimate girls' night out in the Big Top on Friday.
It was a shame so many great performers clashed with the Main Stage offerings because at times there were tricky decisions to make as to who you were going to see!
On Saturday night it was Maximo Park, White Lies and Paolo Nutini along with The View, The Zombies and The Rifles.
A very sunny Sunday gave people The Script, who have had a swift rise to fame, and were brilliant. They've got great potential, had huge audience participation and are bound to be headliners one day.
The hugely entertaining Goldie Lookin Chain took to the stage also with their very frank, mickey-taking and ironic lyrics. More known for their laddish brand of humour than their musical prowess, but they were received very well and were an unexpected surprise.
Then another blast from the past came in the form of Simple Minds. The masses appreciated their well-known songs - Alive and Kicking being sung heartily to finish.
As well as international superstars, the festival also gives local bands the chance to shine. The Platform One Bandstand featured bands who have worked with the Newport-based music college, and it was great to see them have support from the festival-goers.
And the Kashmir Cafe also returned this year. It offered a sanctuary from the festival madness with a variety of acts from acoustic solo performances to five piece bands - from the Island and beyond, including classical music from Medina High School students.
The festival organisers tried once again to make inroads into the waste, energy and transport issues surrounding a music festival on this scale.
There was a big push to encourage people to share transport and you could hire bikes on site to get around. The bars would also give you ten pence for every cup you returned. This meant there were many entrepreneurial children collecting towers of paper and plastic cups for cash. One little girl had made forty two pounds by Sunday afternoon.
And after the event is over, the Isle of Wight's Scouts and Guides moved in to salvage the thousands of tents, sleeping bags and items of camping gear likely to be left behind. They will be shipped to the Caribbean for use by Scouts and Guides in Antigua.
The festival, which recently won an Arthur Award at the annual International Live Music Conference, was first resurrected as a one-day event in 2002.
It had previously secured legendary status in the late 1960s - famously hosting Jimi Hendrix's penultimate performance as well as Bob Dylan, The Who and The Doors amongst others.
The festival is thought to boost the Island's economy by around £15 million, which festival historian Dr Brian Hinton says that figure underestimates the true value of the event: "Its not just the money, every hotel and guesthouse and TV coverage. There's a huge amount of free publicity. It's re-branding the Isle of Wight as 'cool'."
last updated: 16/06/2009 at 16:56
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