Monday, 2 July 2018

Isle Of Wight Festival 2018 - Part Five - Like A Harry Kane Gunning For War

Sunday 24th June 2018

I'm not gonna lie to you, I woke up Sunday morning looking like this:

Me and the festival are both 50. One of us has aged better. Still, a cool shower and one of Chris' breakfast baps later I was feeling more alive. (Duck eggs people. It's all about the duck eggs. Glorious). First on today's agenda was football. Now I've heard several times 'Why go to a music festival and watch football?' There are several answers to this the most relevant one being 'What's it got to do with you?' This is England playing, in a World Cup - it wasn't just any old game. I will say though had there been a band playing I really wanted to see then I'd have picked the music but there wasn't. Saying that after one of the dullest Doncaster Rovers' seasons ever I'd have picked seeing The Sherlocks over some of the dross I watched last season. Actually that's not true. I'd pick root canal work over The Sherlocks. 

So we got to the big screen to find a crowd three times that of the average attendance at The Keepmoat last season. Peter Crouch was signing footballs and kicking them into the crowd. It was a party atmosphere. Chris and Gabe had gone for replica '66 shirts, a brave move in this heat. I believe Chris went 'full-kit wanker' for the game. 'Three Lions' blared out as it did all weekend. Chris had decided 'Three Brians' was a much better song. Between us we decided the triumvirate of Brians should be Messrs. Clough, Close and Cant with Cant as skipper and poster boy. (Professor Cox is on the bench). 

A solid first half performance, 6-1 win and a Kane hat-trick I think more than justified watching the game. The plan was back to the tents for more appropriate attire for some of us and then the Hard Rock Stage. I was looking forward to this one - drinking buddy James Walsh and then Suzanne Vega. Of course I'd managed to lose everyone on the way down, Ross and Rich were definitely behind me and yet when I got to the stage they were casually laid out on the grass with the rest of the entourage, beer in hand. 

James and Starsailor seem to go under the radar slightly yet he is simply one of the finest songwriters this country has with a back catalogue any musician would envy. Add to that his stunning vocals and he really is 'must see'. Thankfully a sizeable crowd do have him on their radar. It's packed. We get Starsailor's finest - 'Good Souls', 'Alcoholic', Four To The Floor', and a magnificent 'Silence Is Easy' all delivered with consummate ease. It's the most laid back set of the weekend and the perfect antithesis to the mayhem of the football.

We chilled. Chilled isn't the word there. We're all going mad with the suncream. I managed to throw most of my beer over Holly and then Brooky. I wasn't even doing owt. Just sat there. Decided standing was better and dropped 50p down the back of Stars' pants. I really shouldn't be allowed out. I poured a £4 bottle of water over my head and felt no better for it. 

I last saw Suzanne Vega headlining Glastonbury in 1989. She hasn't aged at all. Her voice is still immaculate. She walks on stage, dons a top hat and says 'You can probably guess what this song is' before the strumming out the opening chords to 'Marlene On The Wall'. It's brilliant. 'In Liverpool', 'Left Of Center', (she is New York raised, I have to stick with 'Center' as much as it pains me), 'Luka' and 'Tom's Diner'. all follow. It's the perfect hot, lazy Sunday afternoon soundtrack.

As we could all be together today (no media plans for the band) we decided on a meeting spot (end of the Comfortably Numb bar, opposite the soft drinks stall, next to a speaker stack). As soon as we were all there I buggered off to the This Feeling tent to catch Mint. Yesterday I really wanted to catch Himalayas at This Feeling but the being on completely the wrong side of the site and the Gallagher crowd made it impossible. Still gutted about that one but I was in a good location to go catch up with the Mint boys, Grimsby's finest. Naturally I bumped into Jimmy Mac again. This Jimmy was on the next ferry home. I think one of the others was driving Avalanche Party home while another was on the M1 with Apollo Junction in the back of the van.

LEGEND (him not me)

Mint are full on live. Sod the heat, they go for it. Zak, all hips and hair, his imploring rock vocals dancing all round Sam's thrashing guitar. They are a joy to behold. A large inflatable pink flamingo lilo appears and goes crowd surfing, sometimes alone, sometimes with members of the crowd desperately trying to cling on and one time with Zak enjoying a lie down. It's just immense fun. 

Sadly I don't have time to chat as I really want to see Van Morrison on the Main Stage, another who I last saw at Glastonbury '89, when, as a shock to everyone there, he smiled. If the Walsh/Vega sets were the perfect Sunday afternoon soundtracks then early evening is definitely made for Van The Man's soulful jazz/blues. Admittedly a lot of the crowd were just waiting for 'Brown Eyed Girl' but I was loving it. He's not one for chatting to the crowd, or even looking like he's enjoying himself but he does look the epitome of cool. I have a right singalong to 'Whenever God Shines His Light' and feel bad about it. Originally a duet with Cliff Richard from 1989's 'Avalon Sunset' it leaves me feeling conflicted. I love the song but I don't believe in God. Or Cliff Richard. 

We get a Them medley thrown in for good measure, 'Have I Told You Lately' which I last heard sung by Rod Stewart 12 months previously on the very same stage and then he finishes with, wait for it, 'Jackie Wilson Said', 'Brown Eyed Girl'. Moondance' and 'Gloria'!! I mean, c'mon!!! If he'd have done 'Sweet Thing' as well I'd have admitted Van's right about God and happily died there and then, apologised to St. Peter for all the swearing and spent eternity sipping Orangina with the big man.

Manic Street Preachers due up next and I was torn. I've seen the Manics a few times and they've either been stunning or woeful (a shocking V99 springs to mind). Plus Tankus The Henge were due on in 30 minutes on the Cirque de la Quirk stage. I really wanted to catch them but the crowd was already reaching 'stay put' levels. James Dean Bradfield approaches the mic and screams 'Motorcycle Emptiness' and within four bars I know I'm staying right where I am. It's a cracking set ranging from debut album 'Generation Terrorists' to this year's 'Resistance Is Futile' 

I'm not taken with their working of The Cure's In Between Days. I know they did it for Robert Smith's Meltdown but they should really have left it there. The rest though is exemplary. This years Father/Daughter moment for Chris and Stars came during 'If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next'. Don't let Stars kid you it was just the hayfever. 

'You Love Us' gets a 'Paradise City' intro and is, as always, both magnificent and heart wrenching with it's clips of the young band still with Richie Edwards filling the big screens. All too soon the bounce along intro of 'Design For Life' kicks in and they're done. Sod the Liam vs Depeche Mode as headliner argument, I'd have had The Manics over The Killers. I'm wrong of course.

We decided to move further forward, well everyone else did, I was happy where I was but neither did I want to lose everyone or be a killjoy. Even in a crowd this size in the open air there's always someone behind me moaning they can't see. I can' help being 6'5" and I've as much right to stand where I want as everyone else. Saying that I always try and make sure there's no one majorly shorter than me who's view I'm obscuring. At most gigs you'll find me starting at the front and ending up at the back. I don't mind. I'm getting too old for moshpits and with my condition (have I mentioned the heart surgery) have to be a tad careful about getting bumped around. One swift, hard hit to the chest and my little bit of carbon fibre could go wandering. 

I was very aware of being slightly crushed and surrounded by an awful lot of people, some of whom were getting a bit lairy. I was also very, very aware that I was a long way from the toilets and that was gonna be an issue soon. I decided to head out. You'd think a big unit heading out would be welcomed but you get just as much stick moving away from the stage as you do heading towards it. Happily back by the big wheel The Killers saunter on stage and go straight into 'The Man' from 2017's 'Wonderful Wonderful'. Before 'Spaceman' Brandon Flowers announces 'The great stunt driver Evel Knievel said 'People don't buy tickets to see me complete the jumps. They come to see me try my hardest.' Tonight we're going to try our hardest.' It's all a bit tongue in cheek, The Killers know they can deliver a show. Now, similar to Stereophonics three years earlier, I'd kinda drifted away from The Killers. I loved 'Hot Fuss', it was the soundtrack to my 2005, but after that we just went our separate ways. Not falling out as such, just tired of each others company. It happens. Probably 'cos of this I went for a wander. My phone needed charging before tomorrow, I'd have to get in touch with the band to arrange my lift home. Before I went I got one pic of Brandon just as my camera announced it was dying:    

That's a great jacket. It's up there with Ross's. So I banged my phone on charge for an hour (£5), got a coffee and something to eat and wandered back to the Main Stage to see The Killers delivering entertainment of the highest order and showing why I should have stuck with them. They just know how to do this (whichever line up they put up there, which is variable at best). I can just about forgive them the mawkish cover of 'Romeo & Juliet', it's Dire Straits after all and they were one of my first loves. The one note intro for 'All These Things That I've Done' lasts about 5 minutes. We know what's coming. They're teasing us. It's brilliant. The 'Got soul but I'm not a soldier' lyric really should be unforgivable but they get away with it through sheer showmanship. Likewise 'Human' and the bizarre Hunter S. Thompson misquotation of a lyric. We finish, of course. with 'Mr. Brightside.' It's one of the first songs the band ever wrote and recorded. It does seem to have been around forever which could be why it's spent more time on the UK singles chart than any other. It is one of the most downloaded songs in history. I'm sick of it. Yet, similar to 'Wonderwall' yesterday with the band blasting it out and 50,000 joining in it just works. There's fireworks at the back of the site, which seem a tad early as The Killers are still playing and I aggravate my sunburnt neck looking from one to another.

Main Stage all done I head off to pick my phone up and think about going to bed. Travis are closing things off at The Big Top and I decide to get as much out of the festival as possible so head that way, once again going against the tide of thousands. I can't really get near the Big Top but can see the crowd enjoying it and managed a frankly shocking photo of Fran.

I forgot how many Travis songs I loved, it's one massive, joyous singalong that I wish I'd joined earlier. 'Why Does It Always Rain On Me?' finishes things off before the obligatory 'Three Lions' kicks in. It really was everywhere.

And that should be it. My annual blog of The Isle Of Wight Festival done and dusted. The journey home should just be a two line epilogue. 

It isn't. 

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