V Festival 2012 review from Hylands Park

'Essex doesn't miss the opportunity to go and strut in the sun'

V Festival 2012 review from Hylands Park

Photographer: Shirlaine ForrestChris Eustace on 20 August 2012

Three things V Festival 2012 doesn’t have: Nicki Minaj, Dappy and Frank Ocean, all of whom pulled out in the run-up to the event. One huge thing V Festival 2012 (the Chelmsford leg at least) does have: blazing sunshine (save for a 20 minute Sunday lunchtime shower) on both days.

Essex doesn’t miss the opportunity to go and strut in the sun on Saturday, though those who do end up seeking shade in one of the two tents are rewarded with X Factor graduate Aiden Grimshaw’s largely successful bid for pop credibility (7.5/10) and Wretch 32 (8/10) making ‘Traktor’ sound more like a juggernaut during an energetic set, which also saw Ed Sheeran join him for ‘Hush Little Baby’.

Out on the Main Stage, Keane (8/10) impress, despite Tom Chaplin’s scary resemblance to David Cameron and the fact that he appears to be more sunburnt and sweaty than most of his audience. His exertions were more than worth it for sing-alongs to ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ and ‘Bedshaped’, while ‘Is It Any Wonder?’ takes us out of ballad territory for a punchy finish.

Anyone flagging in the heat couldn’t fail to be restored by Rizzle Kicks (8/10). Taking to the 4Music Stage, a fun set full of bouncy ska-pop tunes ensued, flitting around some barmy dancing onstage and off for ‘Mama Do The Hump’, while that man Sheeran jumped onstage again to join the duo for ‘Dreamers’.

In a slight contrast, Ben Howard (8/10) followed, apologising for wearing shorts and offering dubious hydration tips (“Vodka Oranges have a bit of water in them!”), but also playing a bewitching folky set, with the charm of ‘Old Pine’ and the yearning pleas of ‘Keep Your Head Up’ hitting the mark.  

There’s no Liam jokes from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds (8/10) this evening, but, shorn of the element of danger his brother brings, Noel lets things get a bit too cosy on occasions. ‘Everybody’s On The Run’ and ‘Dream On’ cut through this, however, to be the early winners.

The songs are the perfect riposte anyway, and tonight we get a stripped-down ‘Supersonic’ dedicated to Mo Farah, a stunning full band version of ‘Talk Tonight’ and a defiant ‘Whatever’ amongst other classics from the Oasis canon. Of course, it’s a rousing ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger' that ends things on a high.

The Stone Roses (8.5/10) are onstage soon enough, and any talk of the Reading ’96 debacle quickly evaporates. The band sound great, with Ian Brown’s infamous pitching only particularly off at the start of ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ and ‘Made Of Stone’.

It’s Reni that’s really running the show it seems, with propulsive drumming and on-point backing vocals – ‘Mersey Paradise’ has people jumping for joy, ‘Fool’s Gold’ is immense, ‘She Bangs The Drums’ euphoric - everything’s come together it seems, and not even a noodly ‘Something’s Burning’ can spoil the mood, as a magical ‘I Am The Resurrection’ is followed by fireworks as the band take their bows and exit triumphantly.

We’re clearly not the only ones curious early on Sunday to see what else Rita Ora (7/10) has to offer after her three Number One singles – the Arena tent is overflowing with people, and latest Number One ‘How We Do’ is dispatched obligingly early. It’s a short set, and while she shows her versatility with a cover of Frank Ocean’s ‘Swim Good’, only a reggae-ish ‘Shine A Light’ gives us many clues on what her album might sound like.

Perhaps it doesn’t matter anyway – Olly Murs (6.5/10) has two million-selling ones and ignores swathes of them to play a dodgy karaoke medley featuring ‘Should I Stay (Or Should I Go)’ and ‘Town Called Malice’. There’s a huge crowd on the Main Stage to watch the local-boy-done-good, but it seems he can’t quite get over being on The X Factor yet. A shame when he has more-than-decent pop songs of his own in ‘Oh My Goodness’ and ‘Heart Skips A Beat’.

It’s an even bigger shame for fellow X Factor alumni Cher Lloyd (7/10), who despite a sparse crowd in the Arena, starts confidently with ‘Dub On The Track’ showing off an excellent R’n’B voice. Unfortunately she’s soon riled by a section of people throwing bottles at her, asking them to stop before tearfully cutting her set short after ‘With Ur Love’.

Wiley (7.5/10) follows on in the tent, a perfectly judged replacement for Frank Ocean given the weather, with the Godfather of Grime prowling the stage, getting Ms. D to join him, JME and Skepta for a scorching finale of – you guessed it - ‘Heatwave’.

Up against Tinie Tempah, Frank Turner (8/10) doesn’t begin to a huge crowd on the 4Music Stage either, but it swells as he powers through a set of inclusive, holler-along folk-punk, as we pretend we’re at the Opening Ceremony during ‘I Still Believe’ and shout ourselves hoarse one more time for ‘Photosynthesis’.

Everyone still has something left for The Killers (9/10) though, and it’s just as well, as they start with ‘Somebody Told Me’ and ‘Smile Like You Mean It’, with Brandon Flowers threatening to go the full Bono, dropping to his knees during a sprightly ‘Spaceman’.

The deathless opening chords of  ‘Mr Brightside’ send Chelmsford into delirium, and with ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’ finishing the main set, and 'Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine’ and ‘When You Were Young’ as the wide-eyed encore, you wonder if there’s been anyone more perfect to headline festivals in the last ten years than The Killers.

If there’s a criticism to be made of this year’s festival, it’s that they’d clearly spent most of their money on the headliners. As good as they were, it meant a bizarre reliance on past-their-sell-by-date 90’s indie bands lower down the bill and, other than David Guetta, a surprising lack of options for dance fans. Luckily, an excellent choice of pop acts, great weather and superb headline performances ensured another successful weekend.

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