Portsmouth’s Victorious Has Its Most Successful Year So Far…
Portsmouth’s biggest event of the year came round again on August bank holiday weekend. The fifth edition of Victorious Festival was the biggest year to date; a bigger site, a bigger lineup and a larger capacity. The festival has just refused to stop growing, taking up most on the common, utilising each square inch of space that Southsea has to offer.
Victorious is probably the most vast festival we’ve ever been to; a huge space in front of the main stage, and more where the other stages were situated. Although a big site is very valuable to stop overcrowding, sometime it can be too big. Victorious looked disappointingly empty in parts, and the spread of people was inconsistent. There were times at which the site looked like it could of fit another 10,000 people in it. The space though was utilised quite well with a great many local businesses selling everything from records and antiques to vintage clothing and jewellery. Not to mention the stages and the large number of food and drink offerings.
You could see Victorious had had an upgrade from 2015 when heading over to the Castle Stage. Last year this was the main stage, but now secondary to the colossal new main stage situated in the middle of the common itself. Singer-songwriter Izzy Bizu entered the stage for her thirty minute set. The singer has had a stellar year; she was on the BBC’s Sound of 2016 long list as well as playing at numerous festivals. The delighted crowd sang along to her well known track ‘White Tiger’.
Victorious likes the new and the old, and so heading to the main stage for old school Scottish rock band Travis there was much anticipation in the air. The indie rock foursome performed what may be described as the most ideal ‘festival setlist’ of the whole weekend, featuring all of their biggest hits. They fearlessly accepted that casual observers will not be nearly as excited for their latest singles, and so included the classic to keep everyone of all ages engaged. Frontman Fran Healy daringly rode an audience member’s shoulders into the crowd during ‘Where You Stand’ and choreographed a dance for the audience to participate in during ‘Magnificent’. This clash of interactivity with the crowd, sentimentally somewhat defined their performance and set it apart from the rest of the bands on Saturday.
Manic Street Preachers were in headline position for this year’s festival Saturday night. A lone James Dean Bradfield performs ‘Ocean Spray’, an acoustic tribute to his late mother, laced with an excerpt of The Clash’s ‘Train in Vain’, at the request of an audience member. Bradfield sniggers “no more songs from London Calling!” as requests keep coming. After all they were here to celebrate a landmark in their career, devoting a large portion of their set to mark the twentieth anniversary of the seminal British rock album ‘Everything Must Go’. Besides this, it is remarkable just how big an arsenal of hits the group have, recognised by people of all ages, and how with such huge sing-alongs as ‘You Love Us’ and grand finale ‘A Design for Life’, Manic Street Preachers are never in danger of being anything short of excellent, especially when playing live.
Sunday at Victorious Festival was a day filled with funky dance moves, singing as loudly as humanly possible, and colourful party bunting. Crowds of excitable people filled the site wearing vibrant rain jackets and glitter; eying up which of the food trucks they wished to indulge in before they headed to the stages. Victorious isn’t just for teenagers and adults, there was something for everyone. Children danced around exploring the fields with LED balloons, enjoying the funky beats and admiring their pop-idols, whilst their parents relaxed with friends under the bright lights of the ‘Victorious’ sign on the top of the hill.
There was a great combination of big names playing at the festival, as well as some leftfield choices, which fitted the bill perfectly – Public Service Broadcasting had a fantastic set, complete with a spaceman making an appearance on stage in a nod to their latest LP, 2015’s The Race For Space.
The standout performers were, naturally, the big names on the bill for that day, with a personal highlight being, surprisingly enough, Wolfmother. They commanded the stage with all the swagger of the classic rock bands of old – they were channelling that indescribable aura that bands like Led Zeppelin and Thin Lizzy encompassed – bands that are no doubt a large influence of their stagecraft as well as their songcraft. Talented lead guitarist and vocalist Andrew Stockdale entranced the audience with his incredibly distinctive voice and eccentric rock-star moves.
English DJ, singer and songwriter Mark Ronson closed up the night at the Castle Stage playing favourites such as ‘Stop Me,’ ‘Daffodils’ and ‘Bang Bang Bang’, which had the crowd raising their hands in the air, loyally singing word-for-word every tune until he closed his set perfectly with the iconic ‘Valerie,’ featuring smoky, soulful vocals from Amy Winehouse – a lovely way to finish off such a great festival.
Victorious is a great Southsea gem – hopefully they keep it that way in years to come.
Site Setup 4.0
Festival Communication 8.0
Attention to Detail 7.0
Creative Content 4.5
Value for Money 9.0
CO-WRITTEN BY HEBE VERMEULEN & JAMES CONROY