Music on the Main Stage and in the Big Top started relatively late on the Friday, but I guess that was to give the rest of the weekend campers who didn’t arrive on Thursday (and consequently missed out on an incredible set by Status Quo) a chance to pitch up and settle in.
My friend and I therefore took the chance to experience some of the much smaller stages and tents, which included the Hipshaker Lounge. The tent was a celebration of various forms of upbeat music, with selections from the sixties, funk, soul, jazz, Motown, ska and reggae to name but a few. You could either twist and shout to the Hipshaker DJs who dedicate their time to playing the best vinyls, or get on up to a live band. The Lounge was a welcome addition to the festival and provided an outlet for letting loose no matter your age.
Come half four however, it was time to make our way to the Main Stage in order to see one of the most talked about reformed bands in recent memory – Busted. James Bourne, Matt Willis and Charlie Simpson announced at the tail-end of last year that they would be making a comeback, and they arrived on the Isle Of Wight having just finished their comeback Pigs Can Fly tour. The crowd assembled at the beginning of the set, which consisted of most of the tracks played on their tour setlist. It was surprisingly small, but by no means sparse; I expected a bigger response considering the differing generations that are aware of the trio’s music. However, this was not to be an issue later in the set as the crowd grew throughout, with more and more people deciding that they did want to reminisce back to the late ’90s and early ’00s. Busted opened with their first single since their return, ‘Coming Home’, which the Busted-faithful by then had had enough time to learn and thus sing along to.
Then the memories came flooding back as the opening riff to ‘Air Hostess’ blasted across Seaclose Park. Bourne was characteristically buoyant and full of life, thrashing his guitar around and providing us with those trademark Busted jumps. Willis was also very lively on stage, egging the crowd on at every given opportunity. The trio then made their way through other crowd favourites such as ‘Falling For You’, ‘Everything I Know’ and ‘You Said No’ amongst a few others, before eventually playing another new track in the form of ‘One Of A Kind’, which was met by a couple boos from the crowd, who just wanted them to carry on with the hits. Those few would therefore have been much happier with the remainder of the set as ‘Thunderbirds Are Go’ and Sleeping With The Light On’ followed. The chemistry of the three seemed unharmed and just like it was in the early days, laughing and joking with each other throughout their set. They then rounded off their hour-long performance with their very first release, ‘That’s What I Go To School For’, ‘3am’, and the most popular Busted track, ‘Year 3000’.
After that, there was a chance to catch Bristolian five-piece The Shimmer Band, who have recently been championed by BBC Radio 1 Introducing. They also supported Stereophonics at their recent Cardiff Stadium show. The psychedelic pop-rock group showcased why they are becoming increasingly popular during their half hour set with upbeat, buoyant tracks that got the crowd in the Jack Rocks tent bopping about.
We then returned to the Electric Love tent which we had visited the previous day for more 80s party tunes and stadium rock anthems. It was then time to grab something to eat before heading back towards the main stage for Welsh indie rockers Stereophonics. It’s quite hard to get excited for a band that are arguably too polished to be a rock band, and don’t have any real upbeat, festival-esque anthems – consequently being a slight surprise for a headliner in a year that also boasts The Who and Queen. Kelly Jones doesn’t offer too much as a frontman, he’s far from being the most lively “rocker” on the planet, but Stereophonics were able to offer a set that was more delightful than boring. Being able to bring out hits such as ‘Have A Nice Day’ and ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ helps, particularly when sprinkled amongst lesser known hits to ensure that those assembled in the crowd don’t contemplate leaving due to not knowing the songs being played. ‘Handbags and Gladrags’ was obviously able to get everyone singing along, but as is the case with most of Stereophonics’ biggest hits, it doesn’t offer much of a chance to really get into the set. ‘Dakota’ was then chosen as the track to bring their joint headline set to a close.
I tried to give the second headliner of the evening, Faithless, a try having never really listened to them before, but couldn’t muster the effort to stay for more than a couple of songs. Listening to a man effectively talk down a microphone over an electronic backing isn’t really my cup of tea. It therefore gave us a chance to go and have a bit of a sit down before heading to the Big Top for Sigma‘s DJ set.
The London duo put on one hell of a show and didn’t disappoint the thousands that had cramped into the Big Top in order to party the night away. The crowd were boisterous and lively throughout, jumping up and down and singing along to the tracks being played. The body heat made the tent quite uncomfortable at times, but not too many people seemed too phased by that. Everyone seemed to go hard, drinks in hand and music in ears. There wasn’t a steady decline in numbers either, everyone seemed to stay until the very end, giving the group an almighty roar of approval upon the set’s conclusion. Needless to say, there were a few headaches and hoarse voices across the park the next morning.