Thursday 9th June marked the start of the 2016 edition of the Isle Of Wight Festival. Having lugged a ten kilo bag across the Solent, and waited around for five hours once actually on the Isle, it was time to pitch the tent and sink my teeth into my first ever full-weekend festival.
The Main Stage lay dormant on Thursday, allowing the smaller stages to shine, with music starting from 6pm. I opted to head to the Jack Daniels Jack Rocks stage for a 25-minute set from Southampton four-piece Costellos, who headlined The Edge’s Introducing gig at The Joiners last November. The band have been going through a transitioning process over the past couple of months, having parted ways with bassist Harry Stevenson and bringing in Kieron Wilson as his replacement, as well as rebranding themselves. The lads could have been forgiven for being slightly apprehensive, with it being the first time they had played with Wilson live, but there were no signs of that being the case whatsoever. The tent of the venue was rammed as Costellos had everyone bopping up and down from the get-go. This was probably the fifth or sixth time I’ve seen them live, and I can safely say they get better and better each and every time. If you’re a fan of local music, be sure to check these guys out next time they’re in Southampton.
Once Costellos had left the stage, it was time to explore and see what the festival had to offer. As with most festivals, the border of the festival was lined with hundreds of food stalls, selling cuisine from all across the world. There were also a dozen or so fairground rides to try out, but the £4 per go put me off mounting any of them. However, I did give into temptation and pay to win a massive cuddly toy by attempting to score two baskets into a basketball hoop. Those that know me know that basketball is easily my biggest passion, so I fancied my chances! Myself and my friend paid to have three goes, and I didn’t make a single basket… I hung my head in shame for a good hour or so after that!
On our way round, we stopped to experience the Electric Love tent to kill some time before heading to the Big Top for the headliner later in the evening. Playing a host of classic rock tracks such as ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’, ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ and ‘Summer of 69’, it was all too easy to get carried away with singing and dancing. We did manage to pull ourselves away from the tent at half nine in order to catch the main event of the evening – Status Quo.
With the news breaking earlier this year that the Quo will be embarking on their last ever tour at the end of the year, this was probably my last chance to see them live. Having grown up in a household of 70s and 80s rock, I had always wanted to see Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt perform in a live setting, particularly after having watched their Live Aid 1985 performance on YouTube at least 50 or so times. And they certainly did not disappoint. The Big Top overflowed immensely with festival-goers, all keen to sing along to some of the greatest British rock anthems ever written. Despite being in their late 60’s, the two frontmen proved that they’re still the showmen they were thirty years ago, just with a few more grey hairs and aching bones.
Quo treated the crowd to a strong 16-track set, followed by a two-song encore, but it was undoubtedly the final three songs of the main set that really got everyone in the festival spirit. As soon as everyone heard the first few power chords of ‘Down Down’, the place erupted and everyone burst into a frenzy of song and dance. This only continued, but at an even greater level when the Quo then played ‘Whatever You Want’. No matter how old you are, if you’ve been in the car with your parents and listened to local radio or BBC Radio 2 with them, you will know the words to the chorus, and those in attendance in the Big Top made sure that the band knew that they could sing along. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, they then played arguably their most well-known and popular hit, ‘Rockin’ All Over The World’ – the definition of a festival anthem. Chants of “I like it, I like it, I like” were deafening and that previously mentioned frenzy almost turned into an absolute riot – the atmosphere was utterly incredible.
The band retired for a few moments before returning and performing ‘Junior’s Wailing’ and ‘Rock and Roll Music/Bye Bye Johnny’. As the Quo retired backstage for a final time, the crowd did also, trudging back to their tents filled with the festival spirit that only the likes of Isle Of Wight and Glastonbury can give you. Needless to say, the expectations for the weekend ahead were sky high after that.