With a line-up almost as eclectic as the unpredictable British weather, this year’s Isle of Wight Festival brings something for everyone.
Making a triumphant return to the Isle of Wight festival and armed with a brand new album, Kodaline are one of the first bands to take to the Main Stage on the festival’s opening day. The melancholic pop purveyors do not disappoint the awaiting audience with a mix of tracks from their growing back catalogue.
With the Isle of Wight Festival marking the end of their most recent album cycle, You Me At Six thrash the Main Stage after fellow rock band Counting Crows. Addressing the Seaclose Park crowd as the rain began to pour before their final song ‘Lived A Lie’, lead singer Josh Franceschi promises: “we’re going to make the best You Me At Six record we’ve ever made, then we’re going to come back and headline this show!”
Warming up the rain-drenched crowd in the co-headline slot are The Black Keys. The band receive a warm welcome, following drummer Patrick Carney’s shoulder injury just a few weeks ago. After making an almost full recovery the American musician, along with singer and guitarist Dan Auerbach, play a blistering set ranging from their debut album ‘The Big Come Up’ to most recent release studio album ‘Turn Blue’.
Closing the Main Stage on Friday was a job given to The Prodigy and even torrential rain couldn’t dampen the current running through the band’s electrifying headline set. From ‘Firestarter’ to ‘Wild Frontier’, the Braintree trio perform a career spanning show, which even features a guest appearance from Sleaford Mods frontman Jason Williamson for track ‘Ibiza’ – a collaboration featured on The Prodigy’s latest LP ‘The Day Is My Enemy’.
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Elsewhere across the site Henry and Rupert Stansall, known collectively as Ruen Brothers, bring their alternative blues sound to the Big Top to begin an evening featuring Larkin Poe, Sharon Corr and Visconti & Woodmansey, before a headline DJ set from electro dance titans Groove Armada.
With sunshine making a return to the southern Isle on Saturday morning, female country duo Ward Thomas open the Main Stage before an energetic Isle of Wight Festival debut from rock newcomers Nothing But Thieves.
Also making a return to the Main Stage is Ella Eyre, who steps in for an unwell Jess Glynne. After performing at the festival last year the singer is armed with a handful of new tracks to showcase before the upcoming release of her debut record ‘Feline’.
James Bay was on hand to provide one of the strongest vocal performances of the weekend. The BRITs Critic’s Choice winner smoothly transitions between tempos when executing album tracks ‘Scars’ and ‘Best Fake Smile’, before kick starting an afternoon of singalongs with set closer ‘Hold Back The River’.
London singer/songwriter and the notoriously friendly Jessie Ware follows with flawless vocals on a selection of soothing and sublime pop tracks, including set opener ‘Running’ and recent single ‘Champagne Kisses’. Kool & The Gang and James continue the mass singalongs, leaving everyone in high spirits as the sun continued to beat down over the festival site. Saturday also saw performances from Belfast punks Stiff Little Fingers whose poignant performance of ‘Alternative Ulster’ sends the Big Top into frenzy.
Pharrell Williams entertains the Main Stage crowd, boasting a set that was a portfolio of his best work. After revisiting previous releases with N*E*R*D and reminding the crowd of features with Snoop Dogg and Daft Punk, the American singer wraps up his set with ‘Happy’ and an army of small children flooded the stage to dance with the man himself.
As the evening draws to a close Blur perform a striking headline set which included a healthy amount of songs from new album ‘The Magic Whip’. Towards the end of the show the Britpop icons launch into a remarkable rendition of ‘Parklife’, which prompts a guest appearance from Phil Daniels, and a searing display of ‘Song 2’.
Kicking off Sunday in the Big Top is Pretty Vicious. Hailing from Merthyr Tydfil and gathering a rapid amount of support at an even more rapid rate, the young rock band have proven themselves to be a force to be reckoned with after signing to Virgin EMI earlier this year. Picking up the Bright New Band baton from Pretty Vicious is Coasts, who also play the Big Top. The Bristol five-piece filled the tent with their atmospheric indie pop and delighted the crowd with singles ‘A Rush Of Blood’ and ‘Oceans’.
Over in the Main Arena, fresh from their landmark gig at Heaton Park, The Courteeners rock the stage and stir up excitement amongst the raucous and ready crowd. The four-piece present songs from their new album ‘Concrete Love’, but it was previous hit ‘Not Nineteen Forever’ which got the most love from Seaclose Park. Drawing an impressive crowd, First Aid Kit then bring a touch of folk rock to the same stage which complemented the final acts perfectly. The Swedish sister duo showcase blissful harmonies on audience favourites ‘Emmylou’ and ‘My Silver Lining’.
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Paolo Nutini courts the crowd as the sun began to set on Sunday, delivering an admirable performance that focuses heavily on last year’s LP ‘Caustic Love’. Joined by a brass band, a remodelled version of mid-noughties single ‘Jenny Don’t Be Hasty’ completes the Scottish musician’s transformation from mop-haired indie darling to soulful blues crooner. The singer finishes his set alone with an acoustic performance of ‘Last Request’, which is lapped up by the adoring audience.
As the atmosphere builds before third and final headliners Fleetwood Mac took to the stage, there is the undeniable feeling that something very special is about to happen. After becoming a UK exclusive booking for the event, their appearance was cast in doubt last week when illness struck the band. However the band walk on stage on Sunday night to an overwhelming roar of support from the crowd.
Performing hits such as ‘Dreams’, ‘Everywhere’ and ‘Go Your Own Way’ – and dedicating songs to the Foo Fighters’ frontman Dave Grohl – Fleetwood Mac completed their headline set with ‘Don’t Stop’. An accompanying fireworks display erupts overhead, delighting the crowd and signifying the end of yet another iconic Isle of Wight Festival performance.
Words: Shannon Cotton