Are Kings Of Leon, Foo Fighters and Kasabian worthy headliners for the Isle Of Wight Festival's 10th anniversary?

By danecobain | chrise on 18 November 2010

YES says Chris Eustace

Always a festival with an eye on its heritage, do I detect a hat being tipped to the original 1968 festival with the Isle Of Wight’s choice of headliners? For Jefferson Airplane, see Kings Of Leon, Arthur Brown’s most famous song is ‘Fire’, a title it shares with a song by Kasabian,

Okay, incredibly lazy and tenuous links aside (I’m not going to do one for Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl was in Nirvana for God’s sake, and is therefore granted a free pass), the bands already announced represent another very strong headliner grab for the festival, as it celebrates its tenth birthday since being revived.

Foo Fighters are reliable veterans on the big stage, but things may be slightly different with them this time. Having got the whole ‘Greatest Hits’ thing out of the way, all the studio whispers have the band coming back reinvigorated, with the pressure completely off, and we could well have a momentous “elder statesmen of rock”-style album on the way. The clamour for this new material maybe as strong as that for ‘Everlong’ by the time they get here, and with the Milton Keynes shows all resolutely sold out, they will be a huge draw, and represent a bit of a coup for the festival.
For Kings Of Leon, the festival represents a different opportunity altogether. Though they’ve played V and their own huge dates since their infamous Reading appearance, there’s a feeling amongst many festival-goers (especially those who were there at the time) that they’ve never really atoned for their petulance that night. Pigeongate only worsened the impression that their sense of humour and down-home Southern charm had disappeared, but they’re still easily the most popular non-heritage band around, and as it was UK festivals that made them (it was arguably headlining Glastonbury that propelled them from bigger-than-people-realise band to huge global stars), then nearly broke them, so a UK festival can rehabilitate them in the eyes of the casual fan. It’s not just the two obvious singles either, a blast of ‘Black Thumbnail’ or ‘The Bucket’, plus a new album with songs made for this environment will surely see them home and dry.

Though even Foo Fighters may be wary of having to follow them, the fact that Pulp aren’t even headlining means the makings of a strong bill are all there. The return of Jarvis to the big stage, anthems that shaped a generation far more than they realise, and with Blur dipping their toes in and out uncertainly, and Oasis on ice, the nostalgic-yet-still relevant trophy is clearly heading Pulp’s way.

Speaking of taking advantage of the Oasis split, that’s exactly what Kasabian have done, slipping straight into their beery-singalong festival shoes. You’ll be able to hear ‘L.S.F.’ being bellowed well into the night even if you’re still on the mainland. Add the wonderful spectacle of “Burger pirates” drawing alongside your boat as you travel to and from the festival with offers of greasy food galore, and it all seems un-missable.

No argues Dane Cobain

This just in: newly-reformed Pulp conned out of Isle of Wight headline set.

For some reason, Pulp are opening for Foo Fighters on the Saturday night, leaving Friday to Kings Of Leon and Sunday to Kasabian. Maybe the line-up guy was off sick and left the interns in charge. The last four years have seen Sunday headline sets from The Rolling Stones, The Police, Neil Young and Paul McCartney, so why do Kasabian get the honour on the tenth anniversary since the historic festival restarted?

Sure, it's their only UK appearance of 2011, but does that give them the right to steal the slot? Gary Glitter has no shows planned, but I bet he hasn't been asked to headline Glastonbury. The island should be pulling out the big guns, but it looks like they ran out of ammo after a triumphant 2007 when Muse and The Rolling Stones earned John Giddings, event organiser, an award for 'Outstanding Contribution' to UK festivals.

It's easy to forget that the festival that we know is stunted compared to the musical behemoth of 1970, an event that attracted 600,000 people and forced Parliament to pass an act preventing gatherings of more than 5,000 people on the island without a license.

To be fair to Giddings and the hundreds of people that make the festival happen, 1970's turnout makes Glastonbury look like a midget and towers over Woodstock – it pulled in four times the island's population. In the years since the festival's reformation, attendance has risen again. This year's uninspired headliners are a step backwards, but it doesn't have to be this way.

It just seems that with the festival's anniversary looming, the organisers should focus on reaffirming the festival's place in history. Back in the day, the island welcomed Jefferson Airplane, T. Rex, Bob Dylan, The Who, The Doors and Jimi Hendrix – now it's turning into a rip off of V Festival. This year's V saw headline sets from Kings Of Leon and Kasabian, and Kasabian opened there for the Foo Fighters in 2007. Presumably, Bob Dylan and The Who were too busy to make a return appearance – if Dylan signs up and opens for Kasabian, music is dead forever.

Let's just hope the Foo Fighters don't let us down, reprising their role as Saturday headliners five years after their last appearance at the festival. They've earned their spot – after selling out their MK Bowl dates and dominating the rock world for over a decade, Grohl and company deserve another chance to entertain their fans. With Pulp on before them, Saturday is the day to push to the front.

I'm not saying that Kings Of Leon and Foo Fighters can't put on a show, but an anniversary should be something that everyone remembers. If you keep on recycling the same bands, you risk putting on a festival that's only different to its rivals because of the name and location. Unless they break the pattern, next year's headliners will be Stereophonics, The Kooks and Paulo Nutini – you heard it here first.


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