Featured Review: Isle of Wight Festival 2016
The Isle of Wight Festival is annually held in June in Seaclose Park, Newport. It returned in 2002 after a long break since the 1970’s overcrowded event, which induced the ‘Isle of Wight Act’, disallowing gatherings of more than 5,000 people on the island without special licensing.
Since then, The Isle of Wight Festival is renowned for booking some of the most famous headliners in the history of music. With previous years including Bob Dylan, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, The Stone Roses, as well as modern artists such as Kasabian, Jay-Z and The Killers.
This years lineup had a lot to live up to following the 2015 listing of The Prodigy, The Black Keys, Blur and Fleetwood Mac. But, with the festival falling on the weekend of the Queen’s 90th Birthday and to celebrate 40 years of punk, the organisers booked an all-British headline bill with Status Quo, Stereophonics, Faithless, The Who and of course, Queen.
inSYNC dropped by to check out the festival’s amazing lineup, which also featured some of the most famous punk acts to have graced the music scene, the ever-entertaining Iggy Pop, The Godfathers, The Damned, Adam Ant, Buzzcocks and tribute band, The Sex Pissed Dolls.
The lineup once again showed variety to please all members of the attending crowd with Jess Glynne, Busted, Sigma, Pendulum (DJ Set), The Cribs, The Family Rain, Feeder and many more are playing sets across the weekend.
The festival gates opened at noon on the Thursday; the atmosphere was thriving throughout the campsite as people quickly pitched their tents and began sipping cider in the warm summer sun. We made our way to see the Thursday headliner, Status Quo, at the Big Top tent near the main arena. The crowd poured inside the tent, with an overflow of people positioned outside to see the first big act of the weekend. The performance from the rock band was energetic and reminiscent for the older members of the crowd, giving us hits such as ‘Rockin’ All Over the World’ and ‘In the Army Now’. After the performance we headed back to our friendly campsite in preparation for the first full day.
Our Friday began as we checked out the relatively new indie band Blossoms, again on the Big Top stage. Although the crowd was not piled in, the Manchester lads gave a brilliant performance rattling through some of their songs from their upcoming self-titled album, proving they are definitely a band to look out for. Shortly afterwards, we made our way to the Main Stage, a bearable 20-minute walk, to see Jess Glynne’s enjoyable performance featuring massive hits ‘Hold My Hand’, ‘Real Love’ and ‘My Love’. Glynne had the whole crowd singing and dancing as she smiled through her 50 minute slot. Next up, were Everything Everything, an electronic indie rock band who waltzed on stage in 70’s sci-fi attire and began performing their music in a light-hearted yet skilled rendition. Everything Everything were definitely one of the highlights of the weekend, with frontman Jonathan Higgs’ impressive vocal range and comical lyrics backed up by the skilled talents of the rest of the band. We prepared for electronic trio Faithless as we watched Stereophonics co-headline the festival. The Welsh rock band had the whole crowd singing along to their classic tunes ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ and ‘Have a Nice Day’. After what seemed like hours of waiting and endless streams of mysterious smoke coming from the main stage, Faithless marched on and dominated the crowd with their unexpected funky performance; elements of dance and impressive digital installations of lasers and background images all added to their performance. Naturally, the crowd went wild when ‘Insomnia’ was played and this made it one of the best performances of the weekend with inexplicable energy and a variation of many genres incorporated into their set. Once Faithless finished, we headed to the Big Top to catch the rest of drum & bass duo Sigma. The tent was packed with ravers dancing and jumping to their massive hit ‘Nobody to Love’. Although Sigma’s live performance of their drum and bass hits was impressive in terms of performance skill, their music is becoming very commercialised, which distracted from their ability to get the crowd moving and left us heading back to the campsite, exhausted from a day of dancing.
Saturday, we spent the day exploring the festival site, with plenty of stages, tents and areas to discover. We scouted the best spots to chill out, including the Hey Joe Bar & Lounge and the Electro Love tent, which played some of the best 80’s tunes around. Naturally, we danced for what felt like hours at the famous Hipshaker Lounge, a tent playing everything from funk and punk to soul, rock and disco. This year at Isle of Wight, taking into the equation that the 2016 Euro’s were currently the hottest topic of conversation, BT Sport hosted the stage ‘Field of Dreams’. We decided to watch the England vs Russia game live alongside thousands of other hopeful England fans. At first I was sceptical about showing a football match at a music festival, but after the atmosphere in the crowd built us up for the Saturday evening of brilliant music to come.
Naturally, seeing Iggy Pop was a must on our list of artists to see. He did not disappoint in terms of entertainment, half naked writhing around the stage doing what he does best. But after a while, our humour went dry and we went to check out a real punk band, The Buzzcocks, at the Big Top. Their choppy and quick songs trailed into another, playing the classics ‘What Do I Get?’ and ‘Ever Fallen in Love’, their performance was again, one of our favourites due to the energy and atmosphere. Eventually we headed off to see The Who, who again, did not disappoint. Every song they played had the crowd singing and rocking along, and their heart-warming tribute to the late drummer, Keith Moon brought smiles to everyone’s faces as Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend proudly played ‘Baba O’Riley’ to the crowd of thousands. The band still reminiscing about their 1969 performance at the same festival. We headed back towards the Big Top, where Pendulum’s DJ set had already begun. The tent was overflowing, and as we could only watch from the far corner, we decided to head back to camp, despite wanting to see and hear more from the Australian dnb/electronic rock band.
Sunday brought the sad reality that the weekend was nearly over, as it had felt like it had only just begun. We checked out The Family Rain at the Big Top, who put on an excellent performance of their rocky/blues songs. We decided to prepare properly for Queen + Adam Lambert’s performance, as the crowd was absolutely packed for what felt like miles back. We managed to push ourselves to a reasonably good spot. We needn’t have worried though as the atmosphere when the two remaining members of Queen with new singer Adam Lambert came on stage was brilliant. Every member of the audience was singing, dancing and stomping to all the famous songs that Queen have to offer: ‘We Will Rock You’, ‘Killer Queen’, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and many more. We had mixed opinions on Adam Lambert, although he had very large boots to fill, he did an excellent job in terms of a tribute to Freddie Mercury, his vocal range was excellent and his flamboyance made for an outstanding show. Towards the end of the performance, things became emotional as tributes of Freddie and David Bowie were projected onto the large screens; lad guitarist Brian May’s humble smile as the crowd sang along to ‘Under Pressure’ brought tears to our eyes. After Queen finished, fireworks lit up the sky, closing the festival playing ‘Heroes’ by the legendary David Bowie, which was a beautiful ending to a memorable weekend of renowned music and tributes.
After previous years of visiting The Isle of Wight Festival, this year was definitely one of our favourites with the impressive lineup making for an excellent weekend. All the festival needs to top it off would be more creativity with their stages and perhaps some more dance acts going on later into the early hours of the morning. All in all, the festival was again, a triumph.
WRITTEN BY KATE BARNES FOR INSYNC.
Site Setup 6/10
Festival Communication 7/10
Attention to Detail 5/10
Creative Content 6/10
Value for Money 6/10