Victorious Festival- psychedelia, family fun and musical mayhem.
As I arrived at Victorious Festival, which is situated in Southsea Harbour, I was struck by the sheer size of it. This is a really big site for what seems like a ‘local’ festival, but it was clear that it was much MUCH more than that. With a number of stages, free attractions and lots of clothes and food markets, this was a great place for families and festival goers alike.
Throughout the weekend we were treated to incredible music from artists new and old, such as Johnny Marr, The Darkness and legends such as Ray Davies. The guests were eclectic too and it was common to see families as well as teenagers all dancing to the same bands. This is probably what made it so good; the sheer diversity, as there was something for everyone.
Peter Hook and the New Light, soon came on to the Common stage. At the time I hadn’t realised just how many songs I knew by the former member of Joy Division and New Order, so that in itself was a treat. Sadly, it’s impossible to say that his voice was up to scratch and his overall aura seemed slightly ‘dad-like’ but musically, it was a very enjoyable performance.
Afterwards, the heavens opened, but thankfully our spirits weren’t dampened. Next up was the Fratellis, a band that I have enjoyed since I was younger. Lead singer Jon Fratelli was, as usual, a tad lacking on stage presence for a front man, but the band were very together. I found it odd, yet refreshing, that the cameras were not focussed on him, but instead drummer Mince, who admittedly was more entertaining to watch. Playing songs such as ‘Flathead’ and ‘We Need Medicine’ to warm up the crowd, it soon became evident that people were waiting for just one song- ‘Chelsea Dagger’. They were not disappointed, it was played with unbeatable enthusiasm and the crowd went wild. Overall, a good performance but lacking on charisma.
Primal Scream are a band that surprised me, they put on a blinding performance. Playing classic songs such as ‘Country Girl’ and ‘Get Your Rocks Off’- they put on a really impressive performance. Having formed in 1982, they are definitely a band who are not showing their age. With an amazing and energetic performance, it was one not to miss.
Finally, the headliner, The Flaming Lips. I have to honestly say that this was the best performance by any band that I have ever seen. The sheer colourfulness and madness of it was something quite to behold. With more confetti than you can shake a stick at, and lead singer and all round mad man Wayne Coyne zorbing over the crowd (yes you read that right), it was an unforgettable performance. The band began by bringing on inflatables… caterpillars with crowns, a man with the sun as his head, lizards and catfish for example, at the beginning of each song. Their madcap performance was perfectly paired with their Pink Floyd-esque sound and clever lyrics. Finishing with ‘Do You Realise?’ was the perfect end to an incredible performance, a band which have instantly become a firm favourite for me.
The rain had stopped, and the sun was out. Arriving just after the start of Texas’ set, we enjoyed their last few songs before setting out around the site. Unfortunately, drinks were expensive, as can be expected at such an event, with a pint costing £5, these were not student prices. Nonetheless, we began to explore the vast choice of vintage stalls, introducing stages, food options and even the Doc Martens booth and Fujifilm Instax van!
Catching the end of Dave McCabe’s set was a surprise, the former Zutons frontman offered a very energetic performance which really set the scene for a good day. Next on was The Sunshine Underground, whose fun indie music was wholeheartedly enjoyable, with catchy riffs and incredible easy to dance to songs, this made for a very enjoyable performance. Unfortunately, they did not have the crowd they deserved.
I have to say, Hayseed Dixie were one of my highlights, although probably not the most tuneful (sorry boys), they were arguably one of the most fun. With bluegrass covers of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘Don’t Stop Believing’, their performance was incredibly energetic and full of fun crowd interaction, which really got people interested in them, and they drew one of the biggest crowds of the day. I would definitely recommend seeing them to anyone with a sense of humour!
After a quick spot of shopping and lunch, it was time for one of my favourite bands of all time, The Darkness. Now, I may be biased, but I genuinely think they offered the best performance of the Sunday. Starting off with ‘Black Shuck’ and playing songs from all 4 albums, Justin Hawkins, who was sporting a blue silk suit and braces, managed to get the crowd very excited very quickly (not just because he began to strip down to his underwear), but with the power and energy that they put into their songs even after 15 years together. Playing new singles such as ‘Last of Our Kind’ and ‘Barbarian’ as well as ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’, they put on an incredibly entertaining performance. With Dan Hawkins even giving Justin a ride through the crowd on his shoulders, these were a band not to be missed.
The Darkness were amazing.
Next up was Johnny Marr, a man who was in one of my least favourite bands ever, but still one of the most influential bands in history, so I was interested to see what all the fuss was about. Despite not liking any of The Smiths songs, I do enjoy Modest Mouse and The Cribs, so was excited to see his set.
He had an incredible air of self importance, which worked for him as he rattled of Smiths classics and even a cover of ‘I Fought the Law’ (The Clash version). The crowd was one of the most passionate I have ever seen and also one of the most diverse, from boys of around 15 to men in their 70s, he is obviously a sure fire crowd pleaser. Although I didn’t enjoy the music thoroughly, I can definitely say that he has still got it and is still definitely worth seeing. Finishing with ‘There is a Light That Never Goes Out’, this was definitely a set for Smiths fans, who got what they were after; a brilliant nod to his best years, with a few new songs and a cover for good measure.
As the weekend drew to a close, we made our way back to the main stage for Ray Davies, the final act of the weekend. Having seen him back in 2008, I knew roughly what to expect.
Although the cameras on screens were not zoomed in on him, this did not detract from the intimacy of the performance, playing all the Kinks greatest hits, from ‘Lola’ to ‘Waterloo Sunset’ and ‘You Really Got Me’. His voice, admittedly, wasn’t as good as it could have been, but seeing as he is in his 70s, this is expected and his enthusiasm for the songs had not been dampened. He had an amazing way with the crowd and is definitely an old hand at crowd entertainment; with him teasing the crowd with the opening riff of better known songs before launching into his new solo stuff to much amusement. But, he knew people were there for The Kinks songs, and that is exactly what they got.
He was a brilliant end to a wonderful weekend, a much more mellow end compared to the shenanigans of Saturday, but an ultimately great choice and crowd pleaser.
Would I go again to Victorious Festival? YES.