So after a good nights sleep, it's time to reflect on V Fest 2013. My eighth on the trot and one that created gems to remember.
The absolute highlight for me came not from a headliner, or a new comer but an incredibly emotional Fran Healy ofTravison their return to the music biz after a 5 year absence being Dads. I'd watched Travis at the start of their careers at V99 many moons ago, wowing the crowd with their feats of weather control whilst playing why does it always rain on me. I've seen them various times across the UK so I was an easy target for the come back in a rammed Arena stage at ten past six, as were a tent full of similarly 90's focussed indie/Britpop kids.
The set was a festival short 45 mins of hits and obligatory new one, songs with pace (the lust for life infused Selfish Jean) slower ones but mainly sing alongs throughout (Sing, Sing, Sing). It wasn't the sing alongs that made this a stand out set of the weekend, but the emotional response of the crowd, reacting to the wondrous amazement of Travis to the response they received. All culminating with a tearful Fran Healy launching into finale 'why does it always rain on me' having received one of the loudest and longest standing ovations (not hard in a tent of standing people) which was ear splitting and went on and on and on. Another highlight was the band sing along to Frans acoustic run through of flowers in the window (?) with them standing behind Fran, smiling and winking appreciatively, Dougie (looking far too cool for school with every passing year) and one of the other chaps taking over one end each of Fran's guitar whilst he waved his hands in the air.
Fran with suitably greying hair, the sign of kids
Once Travis finished the set, there was not much more to do, nothing could top that and Mrs P and I were more than happy to wander out of the Festival on a high leaving the youngsters to an evening of Fun, Beyonce and the Script. Looking back, this was a good one, I'd been a little disappointed with the line up, and with Beady Eye pulling out butSaturday(with mate Neil) andSundaywith Mrs P had some standout stuff. SoSaturdayand doing my tour guide bit for V festival virgin Neil, we got in for the start whilst I pointed out all the sights (emergency exits are here, here and here) bought the beers tokens and wandered down to settle into the first band,the Saturdays.We lasted 3 bombastic songs, bass pumping, one which we should have known apparently per the Saturdays (we should have been jumping) before heading round to the 4 Music stage to see a band I was really looking forward to seeing,The Heavy. They could have done with the Saturdays bass, as their stand out tune, How you like me now, would have sounded grimier and dirtier with the bass turned up, but we were then away and into the festival. Beverage of choice in hand, we headed back to the main stage for Scouting for girls, not as I had said Scouting for boys, leading to a discussion about childhood TV celebrities who were now facing long stretches in chokey. Scouting for girls lasted a few songs for us, and we could see the format for their success, name check an icon (James Bond, Elvis etc) and singing a chirpy indie pop song about it, sticking in a Bond theme cover too, then back to the 4 Music stage for Reverend & the Makers, a band made for V Festival. John McClure is a front man who is not shy about telling the crowd what he expects of them, largely challenging us to jump up and down, dance and pitting the left hand side of the audience (our side, great) against the right hand side (poor effort). His comment about 'the Heavy weight champion of the world' being the best song we would hear this year at the festival this year was not far of the mark, but it has a distinct advantage being one of the best songs of recent years IMHO. Kangaroo burger imbibed (nice but no Ostrich Burger) we were off to provide local support to Laura Mvula, who has definitely worked on her Brummie accent both for singing and chatting to the crowd, she really sounds like a product of the States now. Sadly though, her show is not made for the Arena tent, iPhone came out, twitter was tried to be checked 57 times as album tracks of warbling were played. We didn't stay for the singles (which I do rate) it didn't work for me, so to restore the vibe we caught a bit of comedy in the Glee club tent, anyone in there works and we were back. After him we were back over for a bit of Seasick Steve, with John Paul Jones (legend alert) on bass. Now he is an artist. Guitars either bashed up or home made (cigar x or hub cap variety) he rattled through great blues tracks, leaving me hoping i'll have his energy at his age (whatever age that is). A nice touch was bringing a lass out the crowd, and romantically serenading her before leaving her with a signed LP (like a big cd he informed the crowd) and a John Deere cap. Onward to the futures tent for a bit of solo Coral action by James Skelly, not going to be making much money as a solo artist with bucket loads of people in the band and a couple of backing singers for a couple of songs in the set. Cracking set, definitely the worth investing in his album, especially as he threw in the Corals best tune Dreaming of you...top. Then onto the Vaccines, a band channelling the spirit of the Ramones, focussed on the brevity, pace and unashamedly pop tastic nature of the tracks. Having seen them earlier in their career it's a bit of a surprise to see the amount of hair now possessed by lead singer Justin Hayward-Young, again a highlight of the day, Melody Calling being a far mellower highlight of the set. Over to Maximo Park, who delivered a good set, a typical energetic front man performance, legs akimbo bounces into the air. A highlight is always Graffiti with the quality lyrics, 'I'll do graffiti if you sing to me in French' but we didn't stay long as they were on the way to the Eels. The Eelswho for me fall into the category of the Flaming Lips, who don't care and will just do what they fancy. The Eels, kitted out in matching black Adidas trackies, topped off by band leader E with his sweat band round his head. The set didn't have songs I knew, or recognised but they were individual, whether it was the count down from 10 mid song, or the group hugs, or the iconic dancing by E. it all kinda sat perfectly together. Food (Fish 'n' Chips) beckoned as we settled in down the front for the remainder of the evening, Stereophonics(here's a new one off the new album) kicked off with rockets (red white and blue smoke) and ended with 30 ft flames, as if to suggest they should be headlining the stage, or just a nudge to Kings of Leon to ensure they realise they need to be worthy headliners. One thing that strikes you seeing the Stereophonics is the lack of ageing that is going on with Kelly. He hasn't changed since the 90's, and we were pretty close in, not changed in looks, leather jacket, sound, anything....he's either sold his soul to the devil, or has Shakin Stevens genes (Shaky always being pointed to for this in Smash Hits).
Then the Kings of Leon, and worthy headliners, cracking set, all seemingly up for the gig, best songs by a mile though being the Bluesy belters from the early albums, Molly's Chambers sounding perfect. Mid set most people round us got distracted by the emergence of a pile of poo. Basically someone had done a dump and managed to clear a small area of the inner circle of the crowd. It's amazing how choking a dump can be when you smell it wafting around. Then, it being dark, you watched in amusement as unsuspecting people kept filling the space, only to be told by gleeful revellers that they may want to check their shoes....we wrapped up with a Sex on Fire driven encore and then an amble back to the car happy to not be spending the night under canvas. Onto day 2 and the weaker line up, Mrs P (with a definite reduced stamina and appetite for random bands she doesn't know) confirmed we only needed to get their for Deacon Blueat1:15, and she was right to insist as Ricky Ross was definitely up for enthusing the crowd, apologising for the crowd for getting the dress code wrong in his suit, he implored us to do a bit of Scottish Country Dancing and cracked off hit after hit to a crowd who lapped it up despite not being the target audience. 'come see us we're on tour' he implored after a blistering rendition of Dignity left us jumping. Lissieby contrast is an up and coming star, the perfect embodiment of Southern USA with her 'yawlllll's, and to go with this one of the most amazing voices around. Again, can't wait for her new album to come out, so much energy and a real sense of her enjoying herself.
Misread dress code catastrophe
Another highlight, and James. It's been 20+ years since me and Mrs P went on our first proper date to see James at Alton Towers and the years have not been kind to either my or Tim Booths hair since, the manc haircut and quiff both having bought it some years back. James picked a set list that suited themselves, not just hits but new song and early single Johnny Yenn. They did resurrect Sit Down, having presumably fallen back in love with it since becoming sickened of it previously and dropping it for years. Tim Booth was the joint most intelligent man at the festival (sending us to see his peer Eddie Izzard at the end of the set) intelligent banter, unique dancing and then sitting on the shoulders of the crowd for the finale. A belter. Then not being able to get close to Eddie Izzard, we strained to hear from outside whilst watching him on the big screen, an interesting tale about Vader, God and Keith(?) from marketing with a tea tray.....you had to be there. Showing off the Fish 'n' chips to Mrs P they didn't go down well, so we were then into uncomfortably watching Paloma Faith, then the guilty please that is Mark Owen (4 minute warning is a perfect pop tune, but he should have a word with Kelly from the Stereophonics about his beauty regime) and then a nice doze whilst watching the Swedes Of Monsters and Men. A bit more comedy, then the mind blowing spectacle of Travis. Home early, which chuffed Nan as she got out of full baby sitting duties and V Festival was over for another year, now when do those early bird tickets go on sale again.......