Despite the adverse weather, lack of sleep and the tent collapsing, Isle of Wight festival was still one of the best festivals I’ve been to. Being at the front for Bon Jovi and having a massive ‘Living on a Prayer’ sing-along must have had something to do with that.
We eventually made it to Seaclose Park on Friday morning, after sat nav decided to break. The ominous grey clouds soon subsided and we were actually sweating as we lugged our paraphernalia to the camp site. After making sure our tent was firmly pegged down (the weather predicted 50mph gusts), we set off to explore the festival site.
A long stretch of field took us from the Dance Tent, past various stalls selling novelty trinkets and fast food, to the Big Top and the towering Main Stage at the far end. Here we sat and just took in the vibe as indie rockers Palma Violets played ‘Best of Friends’ and ‘We Found Love’.
Of course we couldn’t resist going back to the stalls and getting matching friendship bracelets. I also got a henna tattoo on my wrist, which is meant to be left to dry for an hour – so of course we decided to hit the Dance Tent for MistaJam Presents Speakerbox. It was slightly surreal raving at 4pm in a tent with only a few others to banging tunes from resident DJ Bitr8. The Southampton DJ rattled off the biggest hits of the moment with a dubstep twist, along with an insane remix of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s Get it On’.
After a random interlude involving meeting a couple of monkey-onsie-wearing guys on a stag do and seeing how many festivalgoers we could high five in a Borat accent, we hit the Big Top for Ellie Goulding. As feared, the tent was absolutely rammed. People were scrambling forwards just to catch a glimpse of her bleach blonde locks and toned limbs. We were blown away by her pitch-perfect angelic vocals in anthemic synth-pop love songs such as ‘Figure 8’, ‘Explosions’ and ‘Only You’.
Her emotional cover of ‘Your Song’ was almost drowned out by everyone singing along and there was plenty of pogo-ing for her epic summer tune with Calvin Harris ‘I Need Your Love’. I thought that might be the grand finale but she came out with ‘Lights’ which morphed into the Bassnectar dubstep remix of the track. She still wasn’t finished. She ended with old favourite ‘Starry Eyed’ and by then we were well and truly awestruck.
We decided to stay put in the Big Top for Delilah as we had a chance to get near the front. After an awkward start with the mic not working and her revelation that she had laryngitis, she soldiered on with the support of the audience – and a cup of tea. Despite her illness she nailed ‘Inside My Love’, ‘Love You So’ and the spine-chilling ‘Go’. We were slightly disappointed she didn’t sing her Chase & Status collaboration ‘Time’ – but then she did have laryngitis.
We decided to call it a night but we could still hear Example when we got back to the tent. Cue gale-force winds and hammering rain. Combined with the sound of trucks driving past and the piercing cry of a girl who’s tent had come apart, I didn’t sleep a wink for fear that our own tent would pack it in too.
Unsurprisingly I was shattered on Saturday. We met up with a few friends with day tickets and discovered some other areas of the festival such as the Bohemian Woods. Here I let a hammock consume me and I honestly could have fallen asleep there and then to the laidback reggae.
We headed to the Main Stage and chilled out as Willy Mason played his Cash-esque country tunes. I had a cheeky nap during Laura Mvula, but the sun broke though and gently woke me up for the soulful sound of ‘That’s Alright’ and ‘Green Garden’.
I am so thankful for the chilly wind that forced us to go back to the tent for warmer clothes, as it was then that we discovered our tent had indeed collapsed. The poles had ripped through the fabric and it was literally blowing away. We gathered our things, disposed of our tent and dumped everything in the car. I don’t know what we would have done without it!
Our tent palaver meant we unfortunately missed Bastille at the Main Stage, but we did make it back in time for Ben Howard, who eased our stress with his dulcet tones. I had shivers run down my spine as he played ‘The Fear’ and his voice was
like honey for ‘Only Love’ and ‘Old Pine’. He seemed so humbled by the packed-out Main Stage. Such a nice chap.
Indie rockers The Maccabees followed and played a good mix of new and old. Stand out tracks for me were ‘Pelican’, ‘Feel to Follow’ and ‘Love You Better’. Next up was Bloc Party and I was taken back to my school days as Kele sung ‘Banquet’ and ‘Helicopter’. My favourite track ‘Flux’ sounded amazing live, as did their brand new song ‘Rachet’ with its pitch-bending guitars.
We were practically at the front for Saturday headliner The Killers. They kept us waiting but that didn’t stop us chanting “I got soul but I’m not a soldier”. My lack of sleep was taking its toll but the nostalgia kept me going – they kicked off straightaway with classic track and favourite ‘Mr Brightside’, while ‘Human’ and ‘Somebody Told Me’ got me quite emotional. Brandon Flowers effortlessly worked the crowd and there were lights and lasers galore, even pyrotechnic explosions for ‘Miss Atomic Bomb’. The big finish came after ‘When You Were Young’ with confetti and kick-arse fireworks. Out with a bang indeed.
I was much more refreshed after a good night’s sleep in the car, but only as refreshed as you can be on the third day of a festival, without showering. By now you could easy tell the campers from the day ticket holders – the former had thrown on whatever they could find in their damp rucksack and looked a bit worse for wear – the latter were sporting their best festival attire which had probably been planned weeks in advance.
After a nice sit down on an inflatable sofa and spotting a group of fluorescent ninjas causing mischief we made our way to the Big Top for Kodaline. The Dublin quartet played tracks from their recently released debut album ‘In a Perfect World’: the upbeat and carefree ‘Love Like This’ took me to an Irish pub, while ‘High Hopes’ pulled on my heart strings as the delicate piano ballad a built into a tear-jerking love anthem.
Throughout the gig lead singer Stephen Garrigan was so grateful of crowd’s reception, saying that they’d played gigs for two people before. They ended with the heart-wrenching ‘All I Want’, where Stephen trembles ‘If you loved me why’d you leave me?’ This got us all swaying as we sung along to every word and every ‘Oh-woah-oh-oh’.
We stayed at the front for Imagine Dragons who put on an incredibly dynamic show, and were probably my favourite act. Each member of the Las Vegas four-piece had his own drum, so it often turned into an energetic percussion fest reminiscent of Stomp. They showcased tracks from their first studio album Night Visions including the 80s synth-pop ‘Tiptoe’ and the very catchy ‘It’s Time’ with its folk-style strumming and clapping.
Although reminiscent of other bands, they let their own style shine through. ‘Hear Me’ was very Killers-esque (it was actually recorded at the Battle Born studio) and ‘Demons’ started out like a long lost Coldplay track. Front man Dan Reynolds had so much stage presence, often coming down to see the front row fans. ‘I’m on Top of The World’ with its positive pop vibe came before final song ‘Radioactive’. This invigorating bass-heavy track translated brilliantly live with its dramatic drumming interlude with violins. Simply breathtaking.
We made our way to the front of the Main Stage as Paloma Faith nailed ‘New York’ and prepared ourselves for The Script. Highlights were of course ‘Breakeven’ and ‘The Man Who Can’t Be Moved’ which prompted emotional large-scale sing-alongs. Lead singer Danny O’Donoghue dedicated the heart-rending ‘If You Could See Me Now’ to his Dad as it was Fathers’ Day. He made full use of the stage and walkways to greet adoring women, toss his jacket into the audience and generally run around like a crazy Irish bloke. Their grand finale was the uplifting ‘Hall of Fame’, complete with confetti blasts.
This was it. The headliner of the festival. The incredible Bon Jovi. Being so near the front I was slightly star-struck by the 80s rocker. They kicked off with the classic ‘You Give Love A Bad Name’, followed by ‘It’s My Life’ and their newest track ‘Because We Can’. Throughout the performance Jon got lots of audience participation, from clapping and hand actions to drawn-out chorus sing-alongs.
He was really busting out the moves – a cross bewteen Dad dancing and Mick Jagger. Speaking of The Stones they did a great cover of ‘Start Me Up’ as well as Fogerty’s ‘Rockin’ All Over The World’. The truly epic encore included ‘Dead or Alive’, ‘Have a Nice Day’ and of course they finished with their signature rock anthem ‘Living on a Prayer’, which got us singing at the tops of our lungs, arms aloft. Just amazing.
We made our way out of the site as fireworks lead the way. A perfect way to end the festival.
– Published at This Festival Feeling