Well not so much an ode, more just an excited retelling of last weekend. It was the Isle Of Wight festival 2010, and I was on my way! 5 am coach journey to kick things off wasn’t ideal, so I just slept. I’m good at that, i managed the whole 2 hours to London without waking up. For reals. I got to London around half 7, and there to greet me were all my friends from Newcastle, who had been on the road since 11 the night before. Unlucky for them, but we were all in high spirits because it was festival time! A quick 2 hour hop to Southsea and we were on the hovercraft (thats right, and ACTUAL hovercraft!) to The Isle of Wight. The sky’s had stayed relatively clear, but by the time we got to the festival site the heavens opened and rain began to pour. And I mean pour. As we scrambled into a newly opened camping field we threw our tents up quick as possible to keep the ground dry, and by the time we’d panicked and faffed around, the rain stopped.
So that was the weekend underway. An hour or so later the rest of the crew arrived, we all got settled and headed into the arena to see some music. Are You Experienced kicked off my weekend, playing some classic Hendrix, celebrating the 40th anniversary of him playing the festival. Amazing, and well deserving of the title ‘UK’s best Hendrix Tribute’. The same, unfortunately, could not be said about The Apple Beatles. They were, quite honestly, a VERY POOR Beatles tribute act. A few more drinks might have made them slightlybetter, but I didn’t have a few more drinks, so they weren’t slightly better. After that diversion, it was back to the campsite to do what us geordies do best: drink. The hours flew by, and before we knew it it must have been about 3 o clock in the morning. Thing is, we had been travelling all day, and what seemed like 3 in the morning was actually 1 in the morning. Bed time.
It’s a well known fact that you can’t sleep in at a festival. Not out of fear of missing bands, but just purely because it’s so uncomfortable you actually look forward to getting out of your tent. 9 am rolled round and we were up. Quick facial cleansing wipe around the key areas and the carlsberg were open. Bands weren’t starting till about two so we had plenty of time, and we used it wisely by getting drunk. The prices in the arena are extortionate so this was actually a very smart move on our part to save money. We got to the arena and settled into the field of dreams (BT’s screen to show all the world cup matches) to watch South Africa’s opening match against Mexico, and it came to a draw. Amazing goal by South Africa though. We headed over to the main stage after that, and watched Mr. Hudson, who was actually quite good. I feel for his old band though, because clearly Kanye West said ‘drop the band and I’ll sign you’ and that’s what he did. And to be honest he doesn’t look like he regrets it one bit. A swift bit of the doves after him then it was back to the field of dreams for the rather uneventful France - Uruguay match. The most entertaining thing about it was Paul calling them ‘You Are Gay’ all match.
Then it was time. The Jigga Man was due on stage, and he did not disappoint. His flow was spot on (can you say a flow is spot on? I’m not down with the youth, clearly) and he just evoked confidence. He swaggered about the stage telling us about the ‘99 Problems’ he has and how he stays in an ‘Empire State Of Mind’ when he’s on stage. Put quite simply, he was quality. I don’t see why Noel objected to him at Glastonbury, he clearly fits in at any festival and draws big enough crowds. The Jewel in his crown though? Bringing out Kanye West on run this town. I was literally dumbfounded. Amazing.
The next morning, still in shock about Kanye, we awoke and started drinking. Today was England’s day to shine against the Americans, and we were all showing our colours. Danny however, looked a little confusing, wearing a St. Georges cross wig and a T shirt which said Florida. Before the match kicked off Charley and I caught Vampire Weekend, who are officially the perfect summer band. The sun was beating down as their music filled the air, and it just felt right. Biffy Clyro were up next, but so was the England game. It was a hard choice to make, but at the end of the day, Biffy are Scottish. Patriotism beats music. Theres nothing quite like sitting in a field with about 300 people shouting at a screen without commentary. Chants filled the air as we all boozed and screamed as Gerrard slid a ball past the keeper to put us 1-0 over the USA. This was it. The start of our World Cup campaign. This was the start of our road to victor…….oh wait the USA have scored. An absolute clanger put them level, and we had the smirks wiped off of our faces. Some people kept morale going though, kicking off Mexican waves which never quite made it around everybody, and chanting ‘He’s tall, he’s lank, his missus makes me wank, Peter Crouch, Peter Crouch!’ So eloquent. The match ended in a draw, and so, a little deflated, we headed to the main stage to watch The Strokes.
I’ve never seen a more awkward gig in my life. Technically, The Strokes were amazing. They were so tight, so well maintained, that you wouldn’t think they’d ever stopped playing, let alone had a 4 year hiatus. They bombarded us with a hit parade, but no new material, which was expected. Technical proficiency aside, the band themselves didn’t gel. There was no inter song banter, it was just song after song. They clearly don’t like each other, a fact made clear by them recording the new album separately from singer Julian Casablancas. There was an air of confrontation about them, which hindered the gig a little bit. If they’d made the effort it could have been a lot more fun.
Sunday. The Big one. Pink was going up just before the living legend that is Sir Paul McCartney. We were all excited. Pink has always provided a visual treat in terms of her stage show, and we were eager to see what she would pull out of the bag. There was something else before her though. Something we had to see. Spandau Ballet. A guilty pleasure in anyones books, but I’m not afraid to admit that they were sensational. They played with the energy of a band half their age, but with all the class and experience you would expect from them. Soaring rock songs and heartfelt ballads pumped out across the field, and they left the stage triumphant. Something caught our eye while they played. A crane was behind the stage, which hadn’t been there before. Why was it there? We would soon find out. After pushing our way to the very front of the crowd, 7 o clock rolled around, bringing with it Pink.
The crane began to move around as the sound of the circus filled the air. Hanging precariously from it was a box, all wrapped up like a gift. The bottom fell open, and from 50ft in the air Pink descended onto the stage. Amazing. Her energy from the get go was astounding, and she had more in store for us. Half way through the set, she climbed into a zorb ball and rolled around on top of the audience! She was such a great performer, and she put it all on the line for us. After the zorbing, Pink decided to slow things down with some acoustic songs, which was when Paul decided to cry. In his defense, it was because of the sun lotion we were using. When you sweat, it dripped down into your eyes and really stung, and as a result your eyes watered. It just happened at a very unfortunate, but hilarious, time for Paul. The last trick Pink had up her sleeve was a wire above the audience. She came on for her encore, strapped in, and flew over the crowd singing ‘So What’. I’ve never seen a better festival stage show than that.
It was time. 9 o clock, Sunday night. Time for Sir Paul McCartney. After a video introduction by James Corden, he strutted out to ‘Venus and Mars/Rockshow’, before launching into one of my personal favorites, ‘Jet’. When he came on to that stage I literally screamed like a girl at the height of Beatlemania. The feeling was indescribable. He’ still got it, his sense of humor, his touching lyrics, and he can still hit the high notes. It was 2 hours of pure bliss. When he grabbed a ukelele and played ‘Something’, it was beautiful. I could go through every song but it would all sound the same; In a nutshell, he was amazing.
Alas, as he came to an end the heavens open and it began to pour again. It almost bookended the weekend, both beginning and ending with rain, and we went to bed, ready to get a fresh start the next day to come home.
That was a saga! Christ we waited almost an hour just to get a bus to the hoverport, and there was more drama waiting there for us. My friends were all on a shared ticket to Newcastle, and had a coach to catch at 12.30. It was 11 o clock, and we were told the queue for the hovercraft was going to take an hour and a half. I was fine, I wasn’t booked until 3, but they had no chance. We went to exchange our tickets for boarding passes, and the lady behind the counter looked up at Claire. ‘You’ve got a coach to catch. You’ll never make it waiting in that queue, let me see what I can do’. We waited with baited breath for 15 minutes while Claire and the lady behind the counter did what they could. Claire came out of the office. ‘We all need to go inside in small groups now’. The woman had sorted us out and managed to swindle ten of us places on the next hovercraft. What a wonderful person she was. So there we were, on our way to Portsmouth, in plenty of time for my friends to catch their coach, but I was going to have a 3 hour wait in Portsmouth for my coach. There was nothing around us except a run down seaside funfair. I decided I would try and get on their coach to London, so even though I’d still have a wait, at least it would be at the coach station in London.
‘Sorry mate, no room on this one, you’ll have to wait for yours’. The words swirled around in my head as I looked at my friends on the coach and prepared to wave them off. I looked like a lost person, sat at a bus stop with my rucksack and a pair of wellingtons. ‘Alright squire, where you off to?’ I looked around, and saw the kindly co driver of the coach who was loading bags. I told him I was going to London but wasn’t booked until 3. He looked at the coach, then back at me and said ‘Are they your friends?’ I nodded. ‘Chuck your bags on here and we’ll see what we can do at the next stop’. Another very kind person. My friends cheered as I boarded the coach, but I wasn’t out of the woods. At the next stop, anyone not booked on that specific coach had to get off. There were seven of us, and the driver looked us up and down. He was not the kindly old co driver. ‘Where are you going?’ A couple said London. ‘Get on the coach, bags in that front locker. Next?’ There were a group of 3 who had been there before me, and so I gestured for them to go first. London again. ‘Right, bags in the front locker and on you go’. He looked at me. ‘Sorry mate, no space, you’ll have to wait here until your coach’. Gutted. I’d tried and failed to get to civilization. I was stuck at Portsmouth ferry port on my own for the next three hours. I resigned myself to this fate and settled down on an uncomfortable bench. My friends shot me sympathetic looks, and I sent them back a look that suggested ‘Oh well’.
The last people boarded the coach, and the engines started. The baggage lockers hadn’t closed yet though. The driver’s head popped round the door. ‘Chuck your bag in there and get on now!’ I couldn’t believe it. I was greeted with another cheer as I bounced triumphantly to the back of the coach. I’d done it. I drifted off to sleep as we went towards London, knowing I was one transfer away from my coach to Birmingham. It had been a great weekend, but I was shattered, and so I lay my head down for some much needed rest.