First review: Isle Of Wight Festival 2011

Foo Fighters, Kings Of Leon, Kasabian play wet bash


Photographer:Mark Holloway

United Kingdom United Kingdom | by Neil Stone | 13 June 2011

With its standalone prominence and concrete reputation for acting like a power magnet for the highest profile artists, the legendary Isle of Wight Festival 2011 is standing room only. A weekend of glorious sunshine and traditional festival down pours predicted, no weather could compromise a show of immeasurable rock magnitude, punctuated throughout by the contemporary, the legends and even the Gods.

Set on the quiet banks of River Medina, 75,000 revellers pack the ferries and arrive after the short journey from the terminals to the campsites. Those that haven't stocked up on festival essentials need not worry as IOW has the whopping advantage of being located a short walk away from the town centre. Here you can avoid the rip-off nature of the over priced festive merchants and get your alcohol (avoid glass), grab a bite to eat and even get camping supplies.

On site, Boy George (6/10) kicks off a predominantly 80's night on the pre-party Thursday as campers still herd in. Big smiles emanate from the former Culture Club frontman who is given an easy ride by the audience during a lack-lustre set. However, a cocktail of margaritas, music, nostalgia, beautiful weather and the promise of a white knuckled weekend makes for an electric atmosphere in the Big Top tent, smoothing over any ugly dismay from troubled proceedings.

After helping out on album 'You Can't Teach a New Dog Old Tricks' John Paul Jones of mega group Led Zeppelin joins Seasick Steve (8/10) for 'Thuderbird' in majestic sunshine. The distinctive musical mutterings of the Oakland native has a winning formula of shit happens songs such as 'Walking Man' and 'Cut My Wing', and is cherished on the festival circuit. Even Mr Grohl gives him a shout out. There's a place in everyone's hearts for Seasick Steve, as well as a place on any festival billing.

Kings Of Leon (8/10) might be causing upset back stage with their last minute refusal for 3D filming, but in front of the barrier, hearts are being won with Caleb's honey over gravel voice and three-minute rock ballads. A rare performance of the awesome 'The Bucket' is causing the girls to swoon and the boys to gallivant forwards deep into the mosh pits. Not known for their sleuthing skills, Caleb with Tennessee twang states: "I don't recall playing here before so this is our first time here, and you guys are awesome". 'On Call' and 'Use Somebody' get huge reactions, but it's the smash hit 'Sex is On Fire', which is causing waves and problems for the ferries.

The darker hearted incarnation of Oasis, Beady Eye (7/10) do well at growling through a strong set but without the back catalogue of sing-along songs at their dispense, it's Liam Gallagher's fame and ego alone that give them the opportunity to play so high up the bill. Dressed in a Union Jack jacket and taking full advantage of being part of the first ever 3D festival, Liam gives his traditional V fingered salute to the crowd and chuckles "I wonder what these fucking bambino's look like in 3D". Always entertaining and wanting to get in the wrong peoples faces, Liam and Co. strike hard and leave their mark at their first ever appearance at the IOW festival.

Pulp (9/10) make their welcome return for a handful of UK shows and give glimpses to their 90's hey day, hoisting up the indie flag high and true. Jarvis, may well be dressed like a maths teacher, but he still knows how to charm with a silver shiny tongue. Taking an optic camera to the mosh pit and handing out sweets to those who waited patiently for hours, the Pulp frontman hasn't lost his step and it's a shame that Pulp's reunion days will be short and sweet. Only 'Help The Aged’ was omitted from a staggering set list of classic songs, all of which were punctuated with insightful and reflective banter. Offering to help the cold individuals in the crowd as the sun sets, Jarvis asks if he should turn up the electric log fire on stage up a bar. Pulp is a King Kong-sized cherry on the Isle of Wight cake.

Foo Fighters (10/10) could never be the dark horse. Internationally renowned for all the positive elements that a headliner can bring to the table, Dave Grohl (a man who needs no introduction) and band dazzle with sheer brilliance and supernova-like energy. Always eager to please, the affable frontman tells the crowd "we'll just keep playing till they kick us off" and they are literal to the word. Unparalleled entertainment, finger shredding fret work and a juke-box sized back catalogue with songs cherry picked like 'Learn to Fly', 'Monkey Wrench', 'Best Of You' and 'Times Like These', certainly the rightful festival crown bearers on an intergalactic scale.

Closing off the festival are the Leicester lads Kasabian (9/10). Tom's prowess, boundless energy and jaunty banter kept the now soaked masses in high spirits during powder keg renditions of 'LSF', 'Empire' and ' Shoot The Runner'. The techno beats, synths and guitars are as distinctive as they are addictive whilst Sergio mixes up the next batch to be shot in to the arm. Wanting to marry every woman in the audience, the frontman was humbled by the crowds that braved weather that could drown a duck. A flawless production and an impeccable choice of band to close a legendary festival.


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