VF is 10: downers of the decade

United Kingdom United Kingdom | 14 October 2009

This we chat to the likes of Melvin Benn, John Giddings, James Barton and Vince Power to find out their worst performances of the last ten years and who they’d never book again.

Virtual Festivals: What has been the worst performance of the last ten years?

John Giddings (Isle of Wight Festival): “Oh, Lou Reed.”

VF: Why?

JG: “Well the songs weren't recognisable, they all sounded the same. Coldplay went on and played ‘Perfect Day’ to apologise for him.”

VF: Who wouldn't you book again?

JG: “I don't thing there's anybody I wouldn't book again.”

VF: You've not had any troublemakers or anything?
JG: “No, there's something about the Island and people going there that puts people in a good frame of mind funnily enough.”

Jim King (Rock Ness, Bestival): “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bad performance at Bestival, that is that bad. I’ve seen a few DJs that couldn’t pull it together, but I don’t think there would be any surprise on the names of them. I can’t think of a band that’s been that bad…”

VF: What about Amy Winehouse at Bestival 2008?

JK: “I didn’t think she was that bad, I think she got a lot of shit to be quite honest with you, I think some of it was a bit unfair. At that time she was at a very troubled period of her life. She turned up and she sang and I thought she sang quite well. I think people were waiting for a car crash and I don’t think it happened. At that time she was in a bad space and I think she sang really well and fair play to her.”

VF: Is there an act you wouldn’t book again?

JK: “I think there are plenty of pains in the arses, this is the music business, and I think that one of the prerequisites for some of them is to be a bit typical and they are rock stars at the end of the day and its part of their mantle. I don’t think there would be anyone we wouldn’t book again because of that. It usually isn’t the band, it is the crew, they’re usually more difficult than the band are. There have been plenty of difficult crew in our time, mostly American, mostly at the end of a long tour and they just want to go home and to be fair, it’s never that bad.”
Warren Le Sueur (jersey Music Live): “The Paddingtons at Jersey Live in 2006 just didn’t connect with the crowd and they just didn’t look interested at all. Elsewhere it would be Bjork at Glastonbury 2007, I just didn’t get it and nor did the rest of the crowd!”

Virtual Festivals: What has been the worst performance of the last ten years?

Vince Power (Hop Farm, Benicassim): “I try to stay away from artists. I do know a lot of them but I’ve never tried to become their friend. I’d rather stay away because artists get so many people hanging around them anyway, it seems like a false relationship otherwise. Plus, the artists have to be nice to me – they can’t exactly say ‘fuck off out my dressing room!’ because I own it. So I stay away. I’m friendly to Paul Weller and people like that who have been around a long while.”

Virtual Festivals: what has been your low point of the last ten years?

James Barton (Creamfields): “Weather really, you know. I think any festival promoter starts out with a vision in mind and that tends to involve people having a really good time in the sunshine and when it doesn't work out that way it's really depressing and the whole thing becomes really difficult. The festival has always sold tickets and has always been financially sound so that's never been a major downside for us. We've never really had a washout, there's been a few times when there has been bad weather. We try to have the three or four boxes we try to tick here at the festival and we can tick all of them at any time - and I think we've only done that once or twice in the ten years - with a great line up, amazing ticket sales, great weather and a show that is organised and that runs smoothly. Trying to get them four things to happen in any one year is really difficult because even if you sell a load of tickets there might be a problem with the traffic or the gates or whatever, or the opposite, you might have a real good festival one year but your ticket sales might not be as good as you hoped. So we try and tick those boxes, it's a bit like Shangri La, you might never get there, I think we've only ever got there once.”

John Porbyn (Live Nation): “The morning after Live 8 [laughs]. It was just dull - you wake up and it's all over! Big anti-climax. We had some trouble in the campsites at Download three years ago in the campsite. That was a massive, massive learning curve. We came out of that, sat down, analysed where we'd gone wrong and put it right, moved on. Because of that, our relationships with the police and security companies have improved and everyone's very proud of the fact that we managed to come out of it and make things better. I think that was the only real low point.”

Melvin Benn (Reading, Leeds, Latitude): “[Thinks hard] Oh Jesus... yes. I think the only real low points are when the fans, particularly at Leeds, get stupid and burn things. To those kids they're empty toilets but to me they're burning my life. That really was the only real low point, but thankfully we seemed to have moved on from those days now. And that would be a high!”

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