Our whirlwind tour of The Isle of Wight Festival 2008
Last week I was lucky enough to get free tickets to the Isle of Wight festival. It was so good I wanted to write a post about the punk experience of The Sex Pistols, sunburn and the problems of midnight tent setups...
OK, so sat at my desk last Thursday rounding off the last bugs on the BV2 project. I needed a moment away from my IDE so I headed over to our internal forums.
WOW!! What's this? Free tickets to the Isle Of Wight music festival for fastest finger first. A flurry of typing and phone calls to the other half later and the tickets were on my desk! Insert evil laugh.
Given that my native country of origin is Scotland and all my camping gear is stored at my mums, we had to equip ourselves with all that's needed for the festival season. A quick trip to Argos and we had ourselves what looked like a very nice roomy tent and a couple of cosy sleeping bags.
Another round of bug fixing on Friday and I leave the office at 17:30 to meet up with Fran (the OH) at Sheffield station for the 1st leg of our journey down to Southampton.
We get into S'Hampton central at around 22:50, make a quick dash by taxi to the Red Jet ferry terminal to try and get on the 23:00 ferry. This was in vain. Missed it by 5 minutes - so now we are "standing in the dock at Southampton", although not trying to get to Holland or France, but The Ballad of John & Yoko is ringing in my head none the less.
23:45, hop on the Red Jet. Pretty impressive - skimming across the water on a jet powered catamaran, reach Cowes at 00:15. By this point it should be noted that we have both been awake since around 07:00. Phew!
The free buses to the camp site have stopped running by this point so another taxi it is. Given that the main act of the evening have just finished, someone called the Kaiser Chiefs - not really a fan if I'm honest so not bothered to have missed them, the taxi driver informs us that she will get us as close as she can as there will be hoards of day visitors leaving and Newport will be awash with day-trippers trying to get back to their homes, hotels and B&B's. Indeed, busy it was. We are dropped around 3 miles away from the camp site and start the hike against the flow of the madding crowd.
Finally, we make it into the festival camping compound at around 01:10.
It's very dark, lots of festival revelers are, well, reveling around the camp site and we attempt the simple task of erecting our tent, procured only hours earlier, in the dark. With Fran trustily holding a torch I set about the task. We had the inner up in around 15 mins, all going well I thought. Now just to get the flysheet over the top and pegged in. Hmmmm.... Chin rubbing.... Groan.... etc.... This was proving to be very difficult. Sod it we concluded. It will do for tonight as we loosely pegged the fly sheet over the top; mainly just so the inner was not completely exposed to all. We will fix it in the morning in daylight. Time to uncork the wine!
So we awake at 09:30 with the nearest beer tent pounding out 'Wake me Up' by Wham! OMG! Restraint young padawan, although such a rude awakening. I brush the sleep from my eyes and fall out the tent to assess the tent pegging skills of only a few hours earlier. The results of our endeavours are far from perfect. I spend the next ½ hour or so fighting with the fly sheet, proper krypton factor material. I just couldn't see how this could possibly work!! This fly sheet is too damn small! I wanted answers, and I wanted them now! Ok ok, forget it for now. We head to the wash area to have a quick scrub and brush our teeth. Standing in the queue I review our surroundings. What's this I spy? The same tent as ours proudly pitched and looking perfect. Nothing at all like ours. I investigate further. And now I see it. The flysheet we have is for another tent!! Looks like we were sold a mish-mash of 2 different tents!! With the sun high in the sky I figure we will be fine so long as there is no rain and at this point stop feeling useless and curse Argos.
Onwards, we had work to do!
Our loose plan was to get our bearings, wander round, get some food and find a cider outlet. All of which was achieved in rapid fashion.
After a couple of laps round the main area we settle in front of the main stage for up and coming rockers Black Stone Cherry – not really my thing but they were pretty impressive. Their finale was a proper balls out rendition of Voodoo Chile complete with guitar solo goodness with full on teeth picking!
Next up, One Night Only. One of the latest upstarts on the indie scene. These guys were pretty good although my attention span is low at this point as there is loads of other stuff going on and I am really keen to get to the unsigned bandstand to check out the latest talent's (hopefully) of the great unsigned. The ones (out of the 3 or 4 we saw) who really stood out for me were The Sessions. With an average age of 12 (by appearance) these guys rocked this tiny part of the fest. A mixture of Happy Mondays funk with some guitar thrashing for good measure, all held together with some damn fine drumming and pounding bass. Good show! Complete with rebellious kit smashing in some sort of Hendrix/The Who tribute at the end. I got the feeling they regretted that however as they would now have to explain to their parents what happened to their Christmas presents.
By this point it's hot. Damn hot. So we opt for the shade of the Hipshaker lounge for more cider and some jazzy, swinging, retro tunes.
Another lap, some Amy McDonald and big wheel action and its back to the “tent” for some R&R before we head out for an evening of Zuton fever, simian beats from Ian Brown & punk rock madness from Iggy and the Stooges and the ever ready Sex Pistols.
After a little lie down we need food. We find a creperie stall and get some tasty French style pancakes – yum!
And now, we make our way down the front of the main stage for the pending arrival of The Zutons. They open with Zuton Fever, as you might expect. The crowd goes mad, and for good reason. They continue to rock the place for the next hour. One of my fav's for a few years now and a must see live, not least for Abi Harding's sax blowing sultriness.
Next up Iggy Pop and the Stooges. Now, Iggy is a stalwart in anyone's music collection. The early years of the Stooges through the David Bowie years and into the solo stuff. You'd be hard pushed to find any music fan's collection lacking a bit of Iggy of some description. This guy is 61. He enters the stage with the band and they roar into Search and Destroy. Unbelievable. The stage has got to be a good 100 metres end to end. The man (pensioner?) spends the next hour running from end to end. Crowd surfing and simulating “yoga” with the ground!!!! An unreal experience.
The original Monkey Boy next. Enter Mr Ian Brown. Now, I am the original indie kid. The Stone Roses were, and still are, one of my favourite bands. Having charted Ian's solo career mostly for nostalgia reasons, however musically scetchy in parts, I really feel that he has maintained the original essence of the late eighties / early nineties while keeping things fresh. Having said all that, he was wrongly placed on the bill which is a shame. He did not command the stage at all and being sandwiched in-between Iggy and the Sex pistols was always gonna be tough. Good to see him and the tunes were good, but he seemed a bit lost on this line-up.
We now have a spare 30 mins to get our breath back and replenish our tankards. The whole place is going mental with the anticipated arrival of Mr Rotten and his Sex Pistols.
In true punk fashion, they are late on stage – but who cares. As they enter the stage a huge backdrop is hoisted up. “Sex Pistols Combine Harvester Tour 2008”, this is gonna be good. The music starts. A Johny Cash bassline starts with country style guitar. Mr Rotten starts singing in a country style, what's going on?? I suddenly realise that he is singing Pretty Vacant, the country remix. Absolutely amazing. This lasts for little more than a minute and they roar into the familiar riff's of the proper version. Everyone starts to pogo. Imagine around 50 thousand people all pogo-ing. Wild. He baits us and berates us in-between songs. Rilling up the crowd into frenzy all the while seemingly unimpressed at our efforts to show our appreciation. An encore of Anarchy in the UK and they are off, Mr Rotten imparting that he loves us and thanks us for coming – yeah right!!! The complete antithesis of these sentiments but we all lap it up and trade “compliments” with him as he leaves the stage. I have to say that I was expecting this to be of pantomime proportions in terms of the music, bit of a giggle I thought. Forget it. These boys can play and they blew the place wide apart. I have rarely seen live music delivered with such ferociousness and tenacity. Not everyone's cup of tea maybe but I feel privileged to have seen them live and am already looking to book tickets for the Hammersmith gig later this year. An absolute must.
We stumble back to the tent in a rather drunken, sun burnt, Hunter S type manner and have some wine and go to sleep. Hmmm, actually it was more like passing out if I am honest.
The next day we are gently woken with Bob Marley – 'Sun is Shining' and after a few minutes I realise 2 things. My sun burn is pretty bad, and I have an epic hangover. Fran is not much better. We get some after sun to soothe the burning, pack up, and make our way back to Sheffield. Dazed, slightly sore and very happy to have had our one day of sun and revelry on the Isle Of Wight.
There is some video blogging up on qik here: http://qik.com/rickw but my battery ran out before we really got into the swing of it, which is maybe a good thing.
p.s. We left the tent.
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