In a year where Isle of Wight looked back to one of its maiden years to the ‘69 Summer of Love, 2019 brought the summer of mud.
Wet and windy – the spirit of one of The UK’s best festivals was nowhere near ruined.
An opening night cameo from Wet Wet Wet dispelled any worry of rain rain rain across the weekend, with the crowd clubbing together under the Big Top and boogying to old favourites such as Love Is All Around and Sweet Little Mystery.
Alternative stages such as Kashmir Cafe were neat little hangouts, providing a home of warmth and good times. Ska outfit Ska’d For Life got the party going with their delicious take on old tunes from the likes of The Specials, The Selecter and Toots & The Maytals.
Friday at this year’s Isle of Wight was a guitar-loving music fan’s dream. Sets from DMA’s, Gerry Cinnamon (who returned after having his crowd stolen by the England football team at the big screens during last year’s World Cup), James and The Courteeners all delivered sets that make those sat at home wish they’d bought a ticket.
Friends on shoulders, pints held aloft and an infectious energy spreading through the massive crowd. All a beautifully British cocktail.
Lily Allen came along amongst this guitar-heavy Main Stage set up and whipped the crowd into a
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds also landed on the island that day, with a set to rival that of younger brother Liam’s performance at last year’s sun-kissed festival. New track ‘Black Star Dancing’ was pitched perfectly among a set brimming with a set list that only a figurehead of British music could weave. The ‘Ballad of the Mighty I’, ‘Holy Mountain’, ‘In The Heat of The Moment’ and ‘AKA…What A Life’ were all on show, without forgetting old timers such as ‘Wonderwall’ and ‘Half The World Away’. These songs and Noel himself feel part of the fabric that makes this country. Ending the set with a cover of ‘All You Need Is Love’ was a fitting testament to this.
Saturday came with yet more rain but as ever, more great acts to get beer soaked teeth into. Sundara Karma, usually an electrifying love outfit, delivered a set that seemed to suffer from the trip over the water from the mainland, it felt tired and sluggish in places yet was revived by the likes of Flame and She Said.
One man who cannot be convicted of missing a dash of energy is one Miles Kane. The Liverpudlian played to a packed Big Top, dresses immaculately in a skinny suit and red and black leopard print shirt.
‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’, ‘Give Up’ and ‘Coup De Grace’ were all played at a ferocious level. Kane commanded the stage and manipulated the crowd to react to his every demand. Ending on ‘Come Closer’, he left many thinking it was the set of the weekend.
Later under the shelter of the Big Top, Friendly Fires played with similar energy and fittingly tropical pop vibes. Perhaps the elements outside the Big Top meant any act playing in there were playing to a crowd already far happier than those outside.
Over on the Main Stage, George Ezra – now a staple of British pop – wowed the impressive crowd with an endless array of number 1 perfect pop packages. ‘Budapest’, ‘Shotgun’ and ‘Paradise’ feel like songs that will be here to stay for a long time as Ezra etches out a headliner identity.
Ending a set with fireworks zipping from the top of the stage, all was in place for Fatboy Slim to take the festival by storm.
The DJ of ages played an unstoppable performance. Mind-bending graphics engulfed the big screens and eyes of the crowd, as it moved and bopped to the mantra “eat sleep rave repeat” which rang out endlessly.
Norman Cook is a man built to energise a crowd and inject that feeling of escapism. Here, the Isle of Wight felt like an island adrift in space….mesmerising.
The final day of Isle of Wight Festival 2019, with little surprise, was welcomed with yet more rain. This didn’t stop local rocker and pop-punk maestro Lauran Hibberd performing a brilliantly tight set, early over at the Big Top. Her witty writing was the perfect replacement for a Bloody Mary, needed to make the crowd go again for one more push.
Madness were a highlight over on Main Stage, with ‘It Must Be Love’ and ‘My Girl’ sending the masses into a universal sway.
Feet reminded everyone why they are hotly tipped for big things with an incredible set at Big Top, before Bristol boys IDLES nearly sent the canvas roof flying with a typically all-conquering, blistering performance
Biffy Clyro’s headline slot was a case of “right moment, right time” as the Scottish rockers blasted their way to the festival’s end. The emotion in the crowd was tangible. This is what festivals do and what Isle of Wight Festival masters…making punters want to stay on forever.
Isle of Wight is a festival with a unique all-loving atmosphere. It consumes you, replenishes your soul and makes you believe in the spirit of humanity and music. Why else would you stand wet in field?