Isle of Wight 2012 - Festival review

'Triumphed through its worst weather year ever'

Photographer:Mark Holloway

Anja Kimberley - 25 June 2012

With an impressive line-up Isle of Wight 2012 is shrouded in 'too good to be true' status but with a strong reputation for fun in the sun, it draws as many people for its name as for its line-up. Sadly, must-see bands the Stranglers and Primal Scream were superseded by something unpalatable. When the drizzle begins it is little more than a twinge of festival dampener, but as the skies emptied the worst rainfall for the month of June in 100 years a three letter word threatened to ruin the weekend. MUD. In many, many varieties.

The clouds passed and Friday surfaced with more artists than a bird of flight could hope to see. Feeder (6/10) returned to rekindle the excitement with hit records 'Buck Rogers' and 'Just a Day'. Sadly a bottlenecked would-be audience left them playing to an empty field for the first part of the set.

Caro Emerald set out her stall with Big Band tracks and jazzed the blues away (7/10). Mainstage, Noah and the Whale brought unexpected intensity to the stage with chart toppers 'Five Years Time' and 'A Night like Tonight' (7/10). Sadly Lana Del Rey gripped only those who could get a clear view of her as she shrunk into the shadows of the Big Top Tent. Regardless, the sound was clear and haunting and entertainment was provided through stylised movie imagery (6/10).

Example climbed to the top of the favourites list  as he barely contained his own excitement, taking ownership of the arena with 'Kickstarts', sparking an eruption of dance (8/10).

Headliner Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers pushed the crowd to their limits on Friday night with intricate and relentless masterpieces which he performed with modesty in an evident determination to provide the experience revellers craved. 'It's Good to be King' alone would have make the night worth the battle against the weather but 'I Won't Back Down', 'Free Fallin'' and 'Good Enough' had the audience drunk with satisfaction. (10/10)

Saturday brought delights to the tune of Labrinth who proved his festival worth rivals that of club performances as 'Frisky' and 'Pass Out' would keep people talking through the weekend (7/10), succeeded by pop-ska London boys Madness who incorporated covers into their usual set (8/10). Jessie J stole the show with a fun, dynamic performance complete with a surprise Usher cover (10/10). Scotsmen Biffy Clyro proved themselves the heartbreakers of the festival belting out 'Many of Horror' (8/10). Time evaporated as Pearl Jam headlined Saturday's show, sending air guitarists tracking back to 'Alive' of which snippets could be heard throughout the field for the remainder of the night. (10/10).

Waking to campers' murmers of "Most definitely NOT alive" a night of rain is shaken off on Sunday with the current favourites, Band of Skulls, who intrigued and compelled with goth and rock tracks that look set to take the future by storm (7/10).

Meanwhile The Virgin Marys concocted a punk / pop / rock act that would have excited the likes of Anthony Wilson in the Factory Records day and visibly interrupted passers by from their preoccupations (8/10).

Bruce Springsteen concluded with a three hour set of classics and frivolities as he toys with the audience and went out with fireworks (10/10). Post headline act The Darkness re-awakened their glam-rock mightiness with old time favourites, treating the the now flooded tent and outside screen arena to some hits-to-come. (7/10).

Isle of Wight 2012 was a startling success despite being dragged through the sticky mud in more ways than one and those that survived to see it through are guaranteed to go home with lifelong memories for the right reasons. From the care of the organisers, transport companies and formidable performances from just about every band, Isle of Wight 2012 triumphed through its worst weather year ever - bring on 2013.



Click here for our full Isle of Wight 2012 coverage.

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