As the gates open for V2002 with promises of one of the hottest days of the year, the first of what proved to be nearly a 60,000 strong crowd flocked to the V stage, bringing with them a vast assortment of blow up sofas (and women!), deckchairs and even the odd sunlounger or two for the most die hard sun worshipers among them.
The V stage today opens with Rhianna - a fresh faced 19 year old from Leeds. Now with her first album not due for release until september, only a handful of small-venue gigs under her belt, and having been touted around as one of the best finds of 2002, the pressure was on and no-one could have blamed her if nerves had got the better of her. But there were no nerves on show here as a small figure with big big hair and the cheekiest grin I've seen in a long time bounces on stage oozing confidence and excitement. Rhianna's strong voice and blend of 70s funk and poppy tunes, provides a fittingly cheery back drop for start of the sun-drenched first day at Stafford.
The soul infused theme continues with another northen lass - Beverly Knight. From the tips of the red hair extesions woven into her bob through to her killer heels, Ms Knight is nothing if not immaculate, and whether or not soul is your cup of tea there is no denying the power of her voice which would give most stateside diva's a run for their money.
With temperatures soaring and the beer flowing the bulk of the crowd seem to be almost catatonic. The main area quickly seems to be turning into one vast sun bed occupied by a heard of basting lobsters rather than a music fest, and so Kosheen are just what the doctor ordered to stave off third degree burns. The bristol based trio comprising of Markee Substance, Darren Decoder and singer Sian Evans supply a much needed early afternoon energy boost. Sian obviously loves what she does, and with smiles aplenty her strong and jazzy voice is layered against the strong drum and bass beats which get at least some of the crowd back on their feet and dancing.