By Carron Stacey, A Humdrum Mum
We started the day with possibly my best find of the weekend – Bad Sounds. A recommendation from my more indie-friendly friend, but they were anything but indie. My notes state poppy, geeky, funky. I was going to try to craft something cleverer, more succinct to describe them but actually, in the three-words style, they did sum them up perfectly.
- Read on for reasons including The Streets, Manic Street Preachers, Rag’n’ Bone Man and more from day 2
Watching them from the chill hill, the energy of my now favourite track, Zacharia, bounced around the arena in the afternoon sun. The set was mostly upbeat, with the exception of Move into Me (featuring Broods) and one of those just perfect festival finds. An over-enthusiastic keyboard player (trying to smash up his organ at the end – brilliant) and a lead singer playing maracas, tambourine and a mouth organ (not all at once), what can you not like? They even made a Shakin Stevens reference, which secured them a good review for sure!
Porridge Radio (a Brighton-based four piece) – I was keen to see these having heard them loads on 6 Music. Lead singer Dana Margolin has an air of Sinead O’Connor about her, both in looks and sound. Her harmonised vocals really endeared them to me (I love a harmony) but don’t take the Sinead reference too literally; they are far more raw and, interestingly, Dana says she takes her inspiration from the sea. Same reference as another performer later on, and something that is dear to my heart – sea swimming. (Perhaps I will just ignore Dana’s wish to be just like Coldplay, according to a Guardian interview last year.)
Still settled on the chill hill, Black Honey burst on stage, another Brighton-based four piece with a female lead singer and guitarist. Black Honey’s Izzy Bater Phillips has an air of Courtney Love mixed with Lauren Laverne about her, but after a while, I spotted some Clare Grogan too, not to my dissatisfaction! Rocky and loud with just the right amount of sass from the cutely-dressed, mussed-up blonde haired singer, who supported fellow performers, Royal Blood, back in 2017.
A switch of stages and we caught most of Blossoms, this time a Stockport-based band, nominated for British Breakthrough Act at the Brits in 2017, and whose debut self-titled album was a Mercury Prize nominee. Their wall of sound filled the main stage arena, with nods to Charlie Watts with Miss You, and an odd nod to (well was it Hooky or New Order?) by slotting in a short rendition “over-mix” of Blue Monday. Who knows, but they also threw in Half a World Away too. Lead singer, Tom Ogden, reminding me of a character from Versailles, possibly even Louis XIV himself (though this might be due to the title of my favourite single, Charlemagne), engages with the audience in an unexpectedly (for me) expert way. I thought they would be good, but had no idea how well they could carry the crowd and indeed how amazing they would sound. A mention has to go to keyboardist Myles Kellock, who just reminded me of a young Brian Eno (I’d like to think Myles would enjoy this reference). A real treat.
Multiple stages obviously mean missing a few acts, but luckily my team were around and about. My indie friend loved the Lathams and said they were her festival highlight already. Reef – well I’m absolutely gutted I missed them as apparently they played two Duran Duran covers! I caught the Mystereens’ current single, In My Head, sounding much better than it does on the radio. Stereo MCs – having seen and loved them before at a Shiiine Weekender, we only caught Connected and Step It Up. I wondered how ravey Victorious could go in the middle of the afternoon, but it worked! It was a shame I missed Morcheeba and Frank Turner, but they will be on my list next time.
Rag n Bone Man – I have to admit that it was a really good set, despite it not being my kind of music. Great sound, great voice and a good warm up for the main stage headliner to follow.
The rave tent at Beats & Swing has always been a favourite of ours and this year is no different. Except it is different – it’s grown into being an open air arena, not a tent! It’s undoubtedly safer in the open and allows more people to enjoy their eclectic mix, today ranging from Swing 4 All and local characterful DJ Prince Brandon (who has DJd at a festival with one of my team, don’t you know) to Krafty Kuts as their headliner. Sadly we chose to miss Krafty Kuts, but only because we knew we could watch them in the future. But during the day we caught Madame Electrifie DJing. Here’s where you find a huge young crowd in the middle, singing to everything she plays (how do they know those old songs) kitted out with weed hats and steam punk goggles juxtaposed with quite a splattering of oldies (like us) jigging around the outside (we certainly don’t know the words to the new ones she’s playing!). Music unites us all and here was a prime example of what we’ve missed over the last 18 months. An hour and 6,000 steps later, we take a breath, totally rejuvenated. Good old Beats & Swing.
Rockers Manic Street Preachers stepped in last minute to help Victorious out, so thank you to them and I heard so many people say they couldn’t wait to see them.
What can I say. The main event for us. The Streets. The excitement in the audience was palpable. If you’d told me when listening to Original Pirate Material in 2002 that they’d have the crowd in such a state of anticipation 19 years later, I don’t think I’d have believed you. I’ve had a myriad phrases circling my mind to use in this review but none of them seems to be good enough. A true festival friend said she’d waited almost 20 years for this and was still buzzing hours later at home. I am still now, the next morning. Well actions speak louder than words, you’ll just have to see them yourselves. Mike Skinner was out and about in the audience by the second song, playing with the willing crowd, addressing us as Southsea, not just Portsmouth (a real bugbear of mine – the festival is in Southsea!).
Adding in the Southampton reference was always going to happen, but it was executed well, not with any malice. Mike had been swimming in the sea that day and joked that he was performing with his swimming shorts still on (that could’ve actually been true) so he’d endeared himself to me already, a stalwart all year round sea swimmer. Running out of champagne did seem to be a problem for them, quickly rectified each time and he shared it lovingly with the crowd at the front. He also mooted that we were running out of time.
Lots of unpick and think about; I can’t tell if it was just him having a chat with us, or if there was a special meaning. That is the beauty of the lyrical genius that is Mike Skinner. You have to appreciate the whole band, who produce a sound that electrifies the whole arena. Sirens, classical riffs, crashing guitars, crowd surfing… we taught him how to sing, Mike tried to teach us how to have a good time – the advice was “get in the sea” I think. “I don’t know who that guy was, but he was fun,” should well be the epitaph of last night.
I have really struggled writing this review as it’s all still a jumble in my head. All I know is that this is how you headline a festival.
- Pictures via Facebook courtesy Victorious Tickets Bottom picture 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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