A Festival For the Ages (And All Ages) – Isle of Wight Festival, 13-15 June 2008 PDF Print E-mail
Festivals - 2008 Festivals
Written by TK   

At the recent Isle of Wight Festival, TK lost count of the number of times he heard positive feedback about the weekend, a far cry from the usual outpourings of criticism following festivals in this country. So what ingredients did the Isle of Wight Festival have that others did not?  

Festivals always sound great in theory.  A selection of great bands and DJs at the one event, a crowd with shared passions, hedonism celebrated through partying with your friends or partner, a "mini-break" with a purpose and invariably fresh country air.  Yet, despite this, festival-attendees have become infamous for becoming a little too demanding, whingeing and railing at everything from the predictably unpredictable English weather, the crowd size (too big or small), overpriced alcohol, doctronian festival rules, or the fact that there are so many people complaining at the festival that the music is being drowned out.  

The organisers of Gatecrasher Summer Sound's Festival recently had to withstand a barrage of complaints, most of it due to the cancellation of a couple of star acts.  Ironically, little regard was given to the fact that the festival line-up featured almost too many great dance-acts and DJs to be able to list on one page, even if the Chemical Brothers did fail to show.  

The fact is that the United Kingdom, without a doubt, has by far the biggest variety and arguably the best festivals on the whole planet.  Just ask any foreigner!  The reason for this is that more time appears to be spent on organising and managing festivals here than the government spends time on looking after its economy. The summer festival juggernaut continued at the Isle of Wight Festival, featuring a stellar setting as well as being as well-planned as an Indian wedding.  Was it frivolous fun?  Definitely.  Did it go off flawlessly?  Without a doubt. 

The variety of music and the talent at the festival was undeniable, from the old-school raunchiness of Iggy and the Stooges and the punk-attitude of Johnny Rotten and his Sex Pistols, to the fun of the Kaiser Chiefs, the indie-cool of the Wombats, the youth of the Kooks and myriad other great acts.  It was Iggy and the Stooges that provoked the biggest reaction from the crowd, some shocked at his behaviour and others urging him on.  As Iggy combined prancing around topless on stage with hugging the front-row audience in between gyrating indecently on top of the piano to spitting at video cameras, this was a performance that conservatives would be sure to find offensive.  But Iggy is more endearing and likeable than offensive, and his band's music as catchy as chicken jerky, even if he does sing such lyrics as, "My idea of fun, is killing everyone".  

On seeing Iggy topple over a massive speaker on purpose, the woman on my right exclaimed, "Iggy is sooo hot right now".  Which was mildly concerning considering he was old enough to be her grandfather.  Iggy, at 61 years of age, is not getting any younger however many in the crowd I am sure would love to have him as their grandfather.  If he was your grandfather, you would probably go through periods of concern, however your Christmas celebrations would be the envy of all of your friends.  Later on in the night on the main stage, the Sex Pistols – as iconic a band as you can get – played to an audience with high expectations.  Unfortunately, Johnny Rotten seems to have an attitude on life which perhaps should not be over-analysed.  Complaining about anything and everything, including "poncey homo bands", Johnny appeared to be having a rotten night.  

Earlier on the same night, the Sugababes surprised everyone with a loveable performance, even if you usually find all-female, sugar-sweet pop bands hard to take.  And at the same time that the Sex Pistols were being anti-social, the Australian Pink Floyd Band was replicating one of the all-time great psychedelic rock-bands almost perfectly, so much so that this reviewer could have sworn that it sounded like Dave Gilmour strolling around on stage.

On the final day, the Police ended the festival on the highest of high notes, closing their set off with "Roxanne" and "Every Breath You Take".  The crowd was awe-inspired by this great band, and not just for its songs.  One fan was overheard telling her friend that, "Apparently Sting can orgasm for three hours straight".  It is good to see that Sting has more talent than just his music.  The renditions of "Message in a Bottle" and "Wrapped Around Your Finger" were a perfect example of crowd sing-alongs, and catered for the diverse crowd which was of mixed ages.  Funnily enough, earlier in the night the Kooks had been greeted with almost as much excitement and nostalgia as the Police.  It was as if the Kooks were the old school favourite, and not merely new talent.  They did not fail to impress, especially considering that the lead singer Luke Pritchard could almost pass for Jim Morrison in person not sound. 

It was not just the music on offer that made this festival killer bee.  There was a vast array of packed fun-filled bars, rides, and festival stalls scattered throughout the venue, ensuring that fans could have fun even if their favourite bands weren't playing at the time.  And the fan base of this festival is somewhat mixed, ranging from seasoned campaigners, cross dressers, very young kids, and apparently first-timers (one poor soul was overheard asking her friend why she could not find the flush the portable-loos). 

As the sun set over the Ferris Wheel near the main stage as Sting, assisted by his band and the crowd, blasted out "Every Breath You Take", there was a glimmer of nostalgia in everyone's eyes for the weekend that had just past. 

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