Isle Of Wight 2007

Making festival history... again

Isle Of Wight 2007

Photographer: Marc BrousselyBen H. Murray on 10 June 2007

Friday 8th June

Carlsberg don't make major festivals. A man called John Giddings does, however, and in our opinion he makes them better than anyone else. Welcome to the Isle Of Wight 2007 - the Best Major Festival we have yet had the pleasure of experiencing...

Photos by Marc Broussely

Just like a well-known film starring John Candy and Steve Martin, a variety of trains, planes and automobiles are required to get to the Isle of Wight for the now annual reincarnation of the classic 60's arts festival. The masses arrive by train and car, the canny ones get on the hovercraft (well it does fly in a way, so that's the plane bit sorted) and then the unlucky ones, as we are, then get in a taxi and brave some of the most miserable cabbies this side of a kebab-strewn West End taxi rank at 4am. With the world put to rights and the taxi driver clutching a wad of notes (he admits the prices are vastly inflated for the festival weekend - thanks) we amble through Seaclose Park and pitch the tent in a gap that would be described by an estate agent as 'modest' and anyone else as Penny Black-sized. The camping sites on the Isle of Wight are relatively hassle free; not as busy as Glastonbury, safer than Reading and V and not far from the main arena - all of which matter if a festival weekend is to go well and your tent's contents still there when you get back after Sunday's headline set.

Unusually for a big festival, Friday's entertainment doesn't start until 5pm, probably to allow for the extra journey time, but that's great news for Portsmouth-based Koopa, who find themselves playing to a relatively packed main stage as they perform the festival's opening set. Later vaunted by Donovan as an example of a great new band (and one which he influenced, obviously) they perhaps suffer by being the only relatively unknown band on the main stage that day with the perennial Echo And The Bunneymen proving to be a fairly dull but The Feeling, complete with Sophie Ellis-Bextor in tow, are a bit more summer-tinged in music and spirit.

The real festival, however, starts when Groove Armada bring some energy and passion to the main stage as the sun goes down and everyone has had just enough cider or warm beer to put them in the mood. Groove Armada are a band who have the potential to be incredibly dull on stage but, thankfully, they've taken a leaf out of Basement Jaxx's masterful festival displays with some great live musicianship and impressive vocals to accompany a visual feast of a stage show that is only eclipsed by Muse and The Rolling Stones. 'I See You Baby' bring more than a few behinds together.

Snow Patrol, festival veterans on their third trip to the Isle in recent years, seem an odd choice to headline the first night but the mass of people visiting on day tickets are there to see populist big name bands like this, hence Gary Lightbody and co are received with great enthusiasm. Covering their well-known numbers and some newer material, including a slightly tame 'Set Fire To The Fifth Bar' (complete with Martha Wainwright stand-in) and a less-than-rousing 'Chasing Cars', they feel pale and dull after the set that Groove Armada just played but the gentle warm-up to Saturday and Sunday's rockier line-up wasn't such a bad idea. They dedicate their final song, 'Run', to The Rolling Stones - which only serves to remind us of what we are all really looking forward to on Sunday.

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