By Carron Stacey, A Humdrum Mum
WHEN?: Sunday 29 August 2021
I normally soak up the whole day of a festival, mull it over during the night and my review flows the next morning. But this is different. I’ve just come from seeing one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. (I do think I use that superlative too easily sometimes, but not now.)
- Read on for reasons including why PigsX7’s sound is ‘dirtier than the dirtiest loaded fries you’ve ever bought’
Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs – strangely on the main stage at two in the afternoon. They are a five piece (sounding like 15) from Newcastle, with their second album, King of Cowards described by The Guardian as “pulverising but accessible metal”. I can’t really disagree. This band stand out as the lead singer is just that; not a guitarist as well. Matthew Baty, lead singer, struts on, putting us in mind of a young Freddie, even stretching his microphone lead à la Mercury. Resplendent in hot pink shorts and barefoot, he practises T’ai Chi moves (or something similar) whilst the band started up. Woe betide those who thought this was feedback. No – this is it. With a band so cool including Lemmy, a DEA officer from Narcos and Angus himself, the wall of sound continues until Baty interacts with the crowd three songs in. Not as serious as I’d expected, he jokes with us about being asked to headline but declined preferring to be on as early as possible.
This really shouldn’t work here. But it does. And he manages to completely capture the audience’s hearts. A bit of banter ensues concerning the banner (Pigs x 7) rather than using the expensive banner the band had recently purchased. Someone in the audience saves the day, having quickly drawn piggy faces on an A4 Victorious flyer, writing Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs on the reverse. Even the Annie Mac fans waiting for her set are smitten with him while he continues to writhe around the stage, laying on his back and hand stripping off. All the whole singing. Well I say singing. I can’t describe what it is. That’s how you front a band.
To get back to the music, just when you don’t think it can get any dirtier, it does. These guys’ sound is dirtier than the dirtiest loaded fries you’ve ever bought, smothered in Jack Daniels (that’s liquor not sauce), topped with random cheese found down the back of the grill that didn’t pass the last Health and Safety inspection. Now, when are they playing next? I need to do this again.
It only seemed right to head to the sanctity and safety of the World Music Stage after the onslaught that was Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs. We were treated to Gypsy Hill, described as a mix of Balkan brass, surf-rock, ska and swing. I heard Indian rhythms and calls, plus Western whistles. This eclectic London based group are a definite for next time.
Batala Portsmouth are a local drumming group who performed throughout the festival in samba-reggae style using only drums, no percussion. According to their website, Batala are part of a global drumming family with 25 bands, whose costumes and instruments are made in Salvador de Bahia under a fair trade agreement. We caught the end of their set – you just get lost in it. Brilliant.
Beats & Swing hosted our very own punks, Emptifish, to a very loyal audience. It’s all about the surf punk and the image: dark glasses, black attire and red guitars.
We had a very tight schedule to fit in all we wanted to review, so it was a quick dash over to the People’s Lounge to see Barbudo, a south coast soulfully melodic ensemble. We’ve loved them since their Sunshine EP was originally released a few years ago (the band won the first ever Record Store Day Unsigned competition in 2018 and yes, of course, we have one copy of only 500 that were pressed) but were gutted they didn’t play at the last Victorious two years ago. A late start and tech issues this year meant we could only see a few songs, but they are still the perfect accompaniment to the setting sun plus a few cocktails on the side.
Rush back for Fontaines DC. My team suggest that their set was a game of two halves – we caught the second half, which was more upbeat and engaged the audience more. This Dublin-based post-punk band’s debut album, Dogrel, was voted Album of the Year by presenters on BBC 6 Music, and their second was nominated for Best Rock Album at this year’s Grammy Awards. Singer Grian Chatten is never going to be one to play with the audience, coming across as shy and just wanting to perform, but if I had my muso-head on, their set was great with a load of love from the audience. Victorious do seem to have booked many more current bands this year; long may this continue.
It takes exactly 10 minutes to march from the Common Stage to the Castle Stage, where I caught the lovely Melanie C. I’m not really a Spice Girls fan but I have to say, she was absolutely charming. Really happy to be performing for us, and the crowd absolutely loved her. Two Become One went down hugely well (she didn’t actually need to sing as the audience did it all!), followed by the banger Who Do You Think You Are (can you believe that song is 25 years old?). I actually love that song (just perfect pop disco) and remembered all the words, even near the end when she abbreviates the lines to “swing, shake, move, make”. Maybe I am a bit of a Spice Girls fan… I’d been hoping to catch When You’re Gone, her duet with Bryan Adams back in 1998. Sadly the Canadian rocker didn’t appear and I don’t even know if she sang it. She looked fantastic (obviously in some sort of sporty gear) and couldn’t stop beaming at the audience. If my muso head said Fontaines DC, my fun head totally went with Melanie C – what a sweetheart.
You know when the stars align and things just work out? I did my 10-minute march back to the Common Stage, up on the viewing podium at the front to join my team for Supergrass. I arrived just in time for their explosive start – it happened to be my most favourite song Lenny! I’ve seen Supergrass before, always loved them and they provided the soundtrack to my twenties. I Should Coco, their debut album back in 1995, gifting us five singles in all, including Alright and Caught by the Fuzz is one of the best albums ever made, in my opinion. I’ve loved them live but something about today’s show took them to another level. Gaz Coombes must have a painting in his attic, suave in his French-style stripy tshirt, relaxed suit with silk scarf and a sort of trilby, and (possibly?) a lockdown beard. They played everything you remember and more that you’d forgotten you knew (and I’m a fan!). Gaz’s voice on Moving just blew us away. There was a real sense of pleasure from them to be playing for us and he just played, rather than have endless banter with us (but it did raise a smile when he had to adjust his g string). A stunning set for hugely appreciative audience, enjoying a triple finish of Alright, Sun Hits the Sky (or was it Pumping on your Stereo then, I was too busy singing to write notes) and obviously ending with Caught by the Fuzz. I’m lucky enough to be seeing them again next month and I cannot wait.
This is where scheduling hurts – should I stay on for local-ish Royal Blood (which is totally my kind of music) or go disco with Chic? An unusual duo of just drums and bass, using pedals and amps to mimic an electric guitar (nod to Hooky here, that’s why I love his work), their debut eponymous album, was released in 2014 and the year after that, Jimmy Page presented them with the Best British Group Award at the Brits.
We made the difficult decision to switch to watch Nile Rodgers & Chic over on the Castle Stage. I wanted to dance, so we left Royal Blood but reports from our team were that they were absolutely brilliant. Lights, solos, even playing three different rhythms with two hands (according to my drummer-friend who is still trying to work out how Ben Thatcher did it). A brilliant headliner.
Nile Rodgers, where do I start? I could wow you with stats: he has sold more than 500 million units and 75 million singles worldwide, he’s been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, has three Grammies (all included in Nile’s introduction by his drummer Ralph Rolle). But his worth truly is in his huge back catalogue of music. Writing and producing for artists such as Diana Ross, Duran Duran, David Bowie and Daft Punk (and as he said last night, that was just the Ds!), when you include Chic and Sister Sledge, you have far more than his hour slot can possibly include, right? Well no, he just plays a party mix. His band is uber slick, his singers are amazing, bassist and drummer perfect (with a fantastic rendition of Bowie’s Let’s Dance)… I can’t list all he played but highlights include Chic’s Le Freak (obviously) and Diana Ross’ I’m Coming Out. I just couldn’t stop dancing. An older lady in front of me gave me two glo-sticks and although I couldn’t see much at all (there were far too many young tall men in that audience!), I could wave them high. He had his audience in the palm of his hand, starting with text messages to us on the big screen, loads of call and response and clapping throughout the show, obviously so much ooa ooa (how do you spell that sound?). I don’t favour audience participation but I even I did it. His “chucking” style of playing (I had to Google it) is second to none and how does he manage to rap to his own sample of Good Times in The Sugarhill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight? This gentleman is just a legend. The band’s last two weeks of playing were, he said, the most important to him to them and you could see the genuine love he has for performing for us. I can only say I was in the presence of rock royalty for (sadly only) an hour of just solid absolute perfect disco. What an end to a fantastic festival – I think this has been my favourite one.
Top three Victorious moments:
Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs (just wow)
The Streets (what a front man)
Nile Rodgers (just because)
- Pictures via Facebook courtesy Victorious Tickets Batala, Pigs X7 and Nile Rodgers pictures by Carron Stacey. Melanie C by Tom Langford
- Read more from Carron at her blog A Humdrum Mum.
- Have you seen any of these shows? Let us know what you thought in the comments below
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