United Kingdom | 25 August 2009
V Festival Staffordshire was the lucky leg where Oasis performed. But was it actually any good? Rebecca Hitchen found out...
Overall - 8/10
There can be no disputing that this year’s offering at Weston Park holds a stellar line-up, with festival goers making it a sell out and an anticipation that has been felt for weeks previous. But does the music of legendary The Specials and the infamous Mr Doherty prove to delight? Will the backdrop of Weston Park in Staffordshire, with its previously unspoiled greenery and quiet atmosphere, cope with the rowdiness of... well... us? Yes and yes.
Starting, Friday – a day before the bands – the festival offer the chance for settling, drinking and loving to begin. The arena is open with films showing through the night, stalls for browsing with just about every item of crap and tat imaginable. Chill out areas to meet the likeminded, plenty of food stands (very continental) and some horrifically exciting fairground rides; this teamed with as yet unspoiled toilet facilities and V finds the recipe for a good start.
Getting there and back - 7/10
Unfortunately Weston Park, although rural, generates traffic from Friday through to Monday. Motorways, road, dirt tracks alike are clogged with people on foot, coaches, cars and campervans. Although the site is clearly signposted and manned with traffic control, there is the inevitable sitting and acquainting ourselves with the neighbouring cars.
Bus meeting points are swamped with people at the end of each day as services run from Friday to Monday every fifteen minutes. But thanks to competent traffic control, waiting time is reduced in comparison to previous festivals; once onto the road, traffic is moving and delays are minimal.
The Site - 8/10
Weston Park, the grounds of a magnificent stately home, is the perfect venue for V Festival. Acres of greenery allow for enough distance between the four main stages that sound is uninterrupted and crowds can be as big or as small as the act themselves. With the main V Stage at the hub of the happenings, more than ample food vendors and bars accepting pre-paid bar tokens, queues are minimal and the sardine effect is avoided.
With market stalls, fairground rides, films showing Friday and Saturday nights; this teamed with eight campsites marked with flags of their designated colour flying high, leaves than enough activities to occupy even the most frequent attendees of the herbal high stall.
Atmosphere - 7/10
Unfortunately, atmosphere is very dependent on the act. The best atmospheres in daylight are found in the smaller tents where crowds were smaller and intimate. Lily Allen and The Script bring a much-needed surge of energy to their audience who dance and sing along with them. But before previously the atmosphere is been surprisingly sedate and divided in attentions.
As night draws in, the main supports offered by Snow Patrol on Saturday and Razorlight on Sunday gear up the crowd for their main acts and a sense of union was felt as the crowd multiplies and we begin to experience what V Festival is all about. Sunday’s atmosphere during Razorlight’s set is intensified by a patriotic couple who decide to climb to the top of the speaker towers and wave our flag- possibly not the greatest intelligence but appreciated nonetheless.
There can be no deny that this year’s V Festival has something for everyone: from Dizzee Rascal to Biffy Clyro, Oasis to The Ting Tings. It mixes the current with very legendary with the likes of Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift clashing swords with The Specials and Oasis.
The Killers - 9/10
With songs like ‘Mr Brightside’, ‘Smile Like You Mean It’ and ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’ to get the crowd rowdy, it’s no surprise that headliners, The Killers have a huge amount expected of them. But, boy, do they deliver. Frontman Brandon Flowers sounding and looking stunning and with an energetic and sophisticated performance, The Killers are a definite favourite.
Razorlight - 8/10
With a tight performance and their ever cool air, Razorlight give a good show. Songs we all know, songs we all want to know and just the right amount of crowd acknowledgement. Razorlight rock.
Lily Allen - 9/10
Taking the opportunity to showcase new music is always risky in this setting. Crowds want songs they can flaunt to, rhythms they can recognise; but respect where it’s due: risk well taken. Lily’s set mixes just the right amount of old and new along with her own unbelievable version of ‘Womaniser’ that would make Britney green. Interaction between Lily and her crowd is phenomenal and by far one of the best performers of the weekend.
Biffy Clyro - 9/10
With bare tattoo covered torsos and heavy bass, Biffy Clyro are enough to get any rock lover loving and give any mum a migraine. And then comes ‘Machines’, lyrically beautiful, musically eloquent and perfectly performed. Amazing, in the true sense of the word.
Taylor Swift - 8/10
Young, blonde, gorgeous and pretty handy with a guitar in fairness. Taylor Swift truly enjoys being on stage, which, in turn, means the crowd enjoys watching. ‘Should’ve Said No’ is the highlight of her set with the introduction by Taylor bating, “this is about a guy who cheated on me. He shouldn’t have because I write songs,” – she has great style.
The Script - 9/10
Looking genuinely overwhelmed the appreciation between the crowd and these fairly new comers is “nice” if not slightly sickening. That said it has to be marked that they can perform and are definitely one to watch.
Oasis - 5/10
The Gallagher brothers and Co. are a disappointment to say the least. With quite literally no acknowledgement of the crowd and seemingly no desire to be on stage at all, Oasis didn’t headline as anticipated. Musically they are very impressive, but performance-wise that was all they had. Stick to watching their CD spinning around your CD player.
Not sure the protest following Pete Doherty’s performance is a random event as much as an expected event, but it’s worth a mention nonetheless. Some fans actually sat on the floor singing “we shall not be moved!” Fantastic!
The random bellows from the sea of tents on the campsite are in their own right entertaining. One favourite being “I’ve got ham, but I’m not a hamster,” sung to the tune of The Killers... you can guess the rest.
By Rebecca Hitchen.
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