With Pulp, Kasabian, Kings Of Leon

It’s now 10 years since the Isle Of Wight festival was brought back to life and you’re reminded of past glories all around the site. Fencing displays lyrics from the likes of The Who and David Bowie, while posters show past year's line-ups. There was also footage of that legendary Hendrix performance between acts on the main stage. How would this year's roster fare? Pretty well actually, even if it was a slightly underwhelming start.


Seattle’s Band Of Horses were the first band of the Friday to catch the eye, but not necessarily for the right reasons. Maybe it was the size of the stage, maybe it was the wind, or it could have even been their song choice, but something didn’t quite click and Ben Bridwell’s normally sublime voice appeared to get a bit lost. Things were soon back on track though with the night's Main Stage headliners, Kings Of Leon. Furiously launching into tracks from their early albums, you’re reminded of just how good Kings Of Leon can be. Tracks like 'The Bucket', 'Spiral Staircase' and 'Fans' were total knockout. However, a couple of the more recent numbers seem to dampen things ever so slightly and the tempo drops, before the crowd are whipped up again for penultimate tune, 'Sex On Fire'.


Saturday was hot, and a great way to start proceedings on a hot day is Stornoway. The Oxford quartet's delicate and faultless harmonies provided the perfect opening to a day spent in a field. No sooner had Stornoway finished on the main stage than The Vaccines started in The Big Top. ‘’This is our first ever festival’’ announced frontman Justin Young, ‘’and you might know this one’’ before the opening bass line of ‘If You Wanna’, and the crowd did. It’s also worth pointing out just how big the crowd was. Living up to the hype that surrounded them before the release of debut album ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines’ doesn’t seem to be a problem for them so far. The next eye catching set came from veteran Garage rockers Iggy & The Stooges. You can sometimes be forgiven for forgetting how many hits The Stooges have under their belts, but they came thick and fast. 'Raw Power', 'Search & Destroy', 'Fun House', 'No Fun', all timeless and just as vital in today’s world as when they were released. Iggy was having his fun too, his topless torso dragging Dave Grohl onstage, who was watching from the side of the stage.

The evenings headline support was the recently reformed Pulp. There was a genuine sense of excitement from within the crowd whilst waiting for Jarvis and co’s first UK performance and none were left disappointed. The big hitters like ‘Common People’ and ‘Disco 2000’ were impeccable, as was Jarvis’ banter. The standout number though was 'F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E.' and by the time Pulp had exited no one was left in any doubt that this was most likely the festival's defining performance.


Sunday was wet, really wet. No, actually it was really, really wet. Rain fell from the day’s beginning until night end, but spirits certainly weren’t dampened, and the crowd brave enough to get out of their tents early enough to catch guitar wizard Jeff Beck were treated to a sterling show. Pulp weren’t the only 90’s act that had reformed playing the festival during the weekend, so were scouse Brit-poppers Cast. With a new album on the way, classics such as ‘Sandstorm’ and ‘Alright’ were mixed with new tracks one being called ‘Time Bomb’. It’s obvious which got the better reception but that should by no means rule out a listen to the album when it’s released.

When Cast released their debut album ‘All Change’ in 1995, Liam Gallagher was the singer of Oasis. Now he was performing on the main stage with his, and not his brother's, band Beady Eye. A lot has been written and said about Beady Eye since their formation, and not all of it has been positive, but there is definitely a place for them in this world if the I.O.W crowd is anything to go by. Liam is definitely singing better than he was in the final days of Oasis. Gone is the berating of the sound engineer and he seems genuinely pleased that people are signing along to his songs. On the downside though some of the lyrics could have been written by a minor under 10. At least he still looks cool as fuck, dressed in a Union Jack coat!

After the demise of Oasis, the crown of Rock & Roll was most definitely passed onto Kasabian and they closed the 2011 Isle Of Wight Festival in some style. The set opener ‘Club Foot’ set the standard and classic after classic followed. There was even time to air two tracks from their forthcoming album, ‘Velociraptor’ and ‘Switchblade Smiles’, which slotted faultlessly into their ‘best of’ set. By the time set closer ‘Fire’ had finished singer Tom Meighan was left alone, centre stage, having his own call and response sing-along with the audience to the song's chorus. Even when he eventually left the singing didn’t stop, but for ten minutes at least, the rain did.

Words by Matt Goodwin
Photo by Sherrill Smith

View a photo gallery from the Isle Of Wight 2011 festival HERE.

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