GIG REVIEW: Victorious Festival: Saturday starring Paul Weller, Billy Bragg, Neneh Cherry & Sleeper

By: Carron Stacey

WHERE?: Southsea Common

WHEN?: 25/8/18

After a rather wet starting evening the night before, life was kind to us and the sun came out, drying our trainers ready for a full day of festival-going.

  • Read on for reasons including which Style Council & Jam songs Weller played

Our first set today was this band who, when we YouTubed them beforehand, were quite 90s grungy with a touch of 80s electronica. I have to say we watched them, enjoyed them, but I couldn’t recall any of the songs’ tunes or titles! But we really loved their energy on stage. I have noticed from their Wikipedia entry that poems formed the basis of their early songs so I think Cabbage warrant further inspection. Isn’t that what festivals are all about? Discovering music to find out more about later.

Sleeper – Reform of the Century
I’m afraid that a bottle of prosecco from the Castle bar was calling and we missed most of the set. We weren’t that upset as we are seeing Sleeper in November (at Shiiine Festival) but we did arrive to hear Louise’s cover of Blondie’s Atomic, with a little Love Will Tear Us Apart thrown in. Next, a song that takes me back to the Britpop clubbing days, Inbetweener (a throwaway but fabulous tale of an unsuited couple) with Sale of the Century as their last song. I loved Louise’s Super Her (sic) t shirt. In my head, I look like her in it though. She is lovely.

Neneh Cherry – What is she like?
Blessed with her DJ set two years ago, we were very disappointed not to see her last year when she had to cancel at late notice. Last time, she had a DJ with her to help her control the decks, but this time she did it all by herself! She came on to rapturous applause on the World Stage for Arms Around The Child, saying “I’m just playing records, I’m not going to be hollering on the mike, right?” So what did she do? She joined in with the songs she was spinning, whooping and singing! Hecklers were asking for her to play her hits, but she did remain clear in her reply of “No, f*@£ off!” with a smile. She can get away with any rudeness; the audience absolutely loved her. Every time she came out from behind the decks, we cheered. She honestly looked humbled by the response she was getting. Great tunes played, for a great cause.

Billy Bragg – Still seeking a New England
Dapper as ever in a pale blue suit, on came Mr Bragg with Sexuality, taking us through reducing the use of plastic bottles, fascism and cynicism. To lighten the mood, he talked about the crisis in masculinity – mainly in DIY, announcing “We are never going to be as good at that shit as our dads were.” He talked about Morrissey being, well we couldn’t hear if it was a Gary or gammon! New England was beautifully sung with a nod to Kirsty MacColl. He spoke with passion and integrity. It felt like the perfect thing to sit and listen to as the sun was setting. I must admit I had a few serious thoughts at that point, but that might have been to do with another bottle of that Castle fizz.

Reactor 1 – Pretty but not Vacant
This is a local rock band who play a mixture of their own stuff and covers. Performing at the same time as Brian Wilson was always going to be hard for them, especially as he is the lifetime hero of the lead singer! What timing… But their enthusiastic audience drew in a larger crowd and by the end of singing along to Pretty Vacant and Won’t Get Fooled Again, Brian Wilson could’ve come along to ask to sing backing vocals and we wouldn’t have noticed. My regular festival-goer friend said this was her highlight so far.

Paul Weller – A Changing Man
Our party of four split for this – two home, two to see the great man. I’m much more of a late era Jam fan with a splash of the Style Council. Whilst I like his solo work, and indeed it served as a soundtrack to most of my 20s, I was here to hopefully hear three or four Jam tracks. His voice is still amazing, his band tight and the indulgent, extended guitar solos drifted into slick, almost jazz licks at one point. His piano playing was a delight to watch. I managed to catch two of my favourite Jam songs (Start! and That’s Entertainment) and I’ll let Paul off for not doing Speak Like A Child (one of my favourites), choosing instead Shout to the Top and My Ever Changing Mood. Finishing with Town Called Malice, the crowd erupted and expecting an encore, we waited another five minutes but no, what you give is what you get. That was it!

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