V Festival 2010 Chelmsford: Rated!

Hylands Park, Essex - 21-22 August

V Festival 2010 Chelmsford: Rated!

Photographer: Mark HollowayRachael Dallimore on 23 August 2010

Overall - 7/10
Up there with Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds, V Festival is the biggest, most commercial festival to grace Britain’s summer and thus the most expensive.  With stalwarts such as Stereophonics and Kings Of Leon delivering mega sets, it’s little surprise the 90,000 capacity was sold out in just 90 minutes. If eighty-six bands isn’t enough entertainment over two days, the V festival also boasts plenty of great entertainment: a pricey funfair, zorbing pools, a champagne bar (£350 for a bottle of Cristal) and beauty therapies. Massages are a big hit, and you can get hard skin nibbled off your feet by fish for £15, which patrons describe as ‘very ticklish’. While the entertainment reigns supreme in 2010, the rest of the festival is let down by poor layout and angry security staff.
 
Getting There and Back – 9/10

The Essex portion of this double pronged event – the same bands play at Staffordshire’s Weston Park on opposite days – is set in Hylands Park. Nestled just off the A12, fifteen minutes from the M25, it’s an easy journey by car. Shuttle buses from Chelmsford centre run from 9.30am – 11pm.  Travelling from further afield?  Opt for the Big Green Coach, which departs from dozens of UK wide pick up points.

The Site – 4/10

The campsite is split into only two areas, which makes navigation confusing.  Bizarrely, the third stage (Nissan Duke) is cut off from the second stage (4 Music) by a pointless bottlenecking barrier. This does nothing to improve sound quality, and creates a crushed standstill as fans can spend over thirty minutes wriggling through. The main stage is a further 45 minutes walk away. On the plus side, every cuisine and palate is catered for – if you don’t mind paying £9.50 for nachos. Neither the bar staff or security we speak to can give advice on where the ATM, drinking water or First Aid points are.

Atmosphere – 6/10

All smiles and hugs on Saturday morning, the atmosphere quickly goes downhill as confused masses get screamed and sworn at by dazed Show And Events Security staff. Lengthy queues for absolutely everything (even walking from one stage to the next) turn the mood sour. But as alcohol consumption goes ups, fans forget the dismal beginnings and get on with what we’re all here for: the music.

Music – 9/10

Over the years, V Festival has morphed into a pop festival of current big names. Paloma Faith is gorgeous in a red ballgown as she covers Etta James, and Skunk Anansie make a long awaited return. “I didn’t know I knew so many of their songs!” quips a red-faced punter, leaving the mosh pit. Kings Of Leon prove that ‘Somebody’ is a festival-perfect anthem, yet fail to surprise or wow the crowd. Professor Green’s filthy ‘Monster’ shakes the hangovers out the crowd on Sunday morning, as the dance contingent of the festival is hugely successful. Goldfrapp put on a stellar performance yet don’t pull much of a crowd since Calvin Harris is at the 4 Music Stage turning Chelmsford into Ibiza for 45 minutes, as 20,000 people waves their arms in time with the stabbing synth chords. Scouting For Girls continue to be our favourite guilty pleasure. One inebriated Scotsman dressed as a banana eloquently puts it: “I hate Scouting For Girls. They’re a bunch of pussies. Great live, though!” And Paolo Nutini need never worry about having children; scores of Topshop-clad girls carry cardboard signs declaring their womb’s availabilities for his sperm.  

Uppers

Newton Faulkner - 10/10

Newton Faulkner is quietly confident as he holds the 4 Music stage on his own. All ginger dreads and guitar pedals, he cuts a striking sound for a one man band. His covers of Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’ and Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ crack a smile on everyone’s face. “Sing it like you’re pirates with rabies!” he demands during a crowd singalong. Ask and ye shall receive.  

Peter Andre - 9/10

The Nissan Duke tent is rammed for Andre’s set and a voice over the PA has to tell fans to stop coming in since the arena is too full. Girls are crushed and crying. A terrible cover of The Police’s ‘Message In A Bottle’ is amusing, but we’re not here for Peter Andre’s singing abilities. Everyone simply loves the guy, and as the opening bars to ‘Mysterious Girl’ play out, Peter Andre gets the biggest cheer of the whole weekend. Legend!

Florence and The Machine - 10/10

Not enough good things can be said about Florence: beautiful, stylish, an incredible singer. You wouldn’t think it could all be true, but there she is, gossamer and perfect in black lace with that voice belting out tracks from ‘Lungs’. The searing emotion in ‘You’ve Got The Love’ sends more than a handful of tipsy Essex girls in leopard print jumpsuits into floods of tears, hugging and kissing each other.  

Mika - 8/10

Leaping onto the stage like a jack in the box and dancing non-stop throughout his set, you can’t help but be contaminated by his whimsical presence. Dressed in white, he gives 100%. The tent quickly fills up as the melodies for ‘Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)’ entice fans.  

Stereophonics - 10/10
It seems unfair that Stereophonics with all their accolades (and seven albums) are playing second fiddle to Kings Of Leon tonight, yet they sound as good as their debut ‘Word Gets Aroud’. A medley of ‘More Life In A Tramp’s Vest’ and ‘Last Of The Big Time Drinkers’ gets thousands of fans jumping like mad, seemingly resonating well with tonight’s crowd.  Dependable, professional and with amazing songs to back it all up, Stereophonics prove again that they are incredible.

Downers

Diana Vickers - 1/10

As if being famous for losing X Factor and making a weird claw when she sings wasn’t bad enough, Diana Vickers practically performs to herself in the Nissan Duke Arena. Where Peter Andre performed just an hour earlier to a crushed crowd, Diana Vickers’ audience could fit into a regular elevator and still not be over the weight limit.  

Madness - 5/10
With plentiful outstanding songs that everyone knows and loves and a decent crowd, you’d think Madness would have little to complain about. “We can’t do an encore. If we go off stage, fucking Paolo Nutini will come on!”  When that’s received with boos, Suggs quickly backtracks “I mean, he’s great. But we want to play more songs.” Just shut up and play then.

Doves - 4/10

With a career-spanning Best Of album released in April this year, the crowd fills up the 4 Music Stage to hear Doves. Yet a lacklustre performance with little interaction seems to bring on the drizzly weather and fans wander off to see Faithless instead.

The Saw Doctors - 2/10

The Saw Doctors win the prize for most boring band – ever. “It’s like they’re families are held hostage and they’re being forced to play,” one girl says. Her mate replies “Nah, because then they’d have to play well or the families would get shot.”

The Temper Trap - 2/10

The Temper Trap seem to forget that there is an audience to interact with and think that vocal wailing can make up for, well, everything else. We can listen to the songs on CD. We come to see live music for a performance. Fail.

Random Events

A six year old child who runs away from her mother head on into the crotches of five men wearing mankinis and flip flops.

A midget who was told off by security for pissing against a barrier – just next to the urinals – decides to let Small Man Complex over rule his sensibilities and insults the bouncer before running off.  Minutes later, the midget is being dragged out the festival by no less than five burly security staff, as a cheering crowd follows.

A life size and very real looking polar bear sneaking up behind people, nudging them and making them drop their beers in shock.  It’s a joke that keeps on giving.

VIP liggers having to pay an obligatory £20 charity donation. What charity is it for? “We can’t disclose that information.” What’s worse for them is the mighty V Festival doesn’t accept credit cards for this surcharge and the ATMs are inside the arena only, which you can’t get to without a wristband, which you can’t get without paying £20.

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