Thursday, 28 June 2012

Isle of Wight Festival 2012

by Anne Stephenson

I have never been to a ‘proper’ music festival before and have often toyed with the idea. I decided if I didn’t go to the Isle Of Wight Festival this year I never would, since Bruce Springsteen was playing and he is my all-time rock hero.

Bruce Springsteen at the IOW Festival
(photo: A Stephenson)

There were also other bands on the bill that I wanted to see: Biffy Clyro, Elbow, Tom Petty, Joan Armatrading, Suzanne Vega, Noel Gallagher.... a friend said I should see Pearl Jam who were their favourite band. My daughter (18) highlighted other bands on the set list that she thought I would like: Boyce Avenue,  The Vaccines, Example, Band of Skulls. So I bought a ticket from my daughter’s friend who decided they would rather go to ‘Bestival’ and I was all set. I was going to camp …then there was the mud bath of Thursday so I decided to stay with a friend who lives on the Isle of Wight instead, and go back and forth each day. So I didn’t really have the ‘full festival experience’. However, those I met that did camp all had a great time.

In the end I saw most of the bands I wanted to see. Some were better than expected: Tom Petty was awesome, I didn’t realise I knew so many Tom Petty songs! Some bands came up to expectations; Noel Gallagher had a great rapport with the crowd, played through a flare attack and ended on my favourite Oasis song. Some were, somehow, a little disappointing; Elbow only grabbed me on their final song, Biffy Clyro were good but somehow I couldn’t get completely carried away.

I loved the atmosphere, which was very relaxed and easy going. It was great to see old and young all dancing together to the same bands. The highlights of Friday were Noah and the Whale and Tom Petty. I spent Saturday having a ‘proper’ festival day with a friend; trying different bands, dancing with what seemed like the whole festival to Madness, chilling out with a cocktail on ‘The Beach’ whilst bopping to a local band that did Beach Boy covers, mooching around the stalls, having free tea and cakes in a yurt run by local churches which was a haven from the hurly burly outside, and getting drenched as Pearl Jam finished. On Sunday I meant to have another proper festival experience but found myself standing at the front by the barrier listening to the amazing voice of Joan Armatrading at 2:15pm.

I was next to a small stage that had been constructed the night before, this would be where Bruce Springsteen would stand to sing ‘close up and personal’ rather than staying on the lofty heights of the main stage as the other performers did.

In the circumstances I decided to hold out in the same spot until 8pm and so, of course, the highlight of my weekend was supporting Bruce’s leg as he stood ON the barrier NEXT to me to sing to the crowd.  

As the E Street Band launched in to one last ‘folk song’ (Twist and Shout!) and the fireworks lit up the end of the main festival the woman next to me (who had been to many festivals but had never seen ‘The Boss’ before) said with amazment ‘”No-one has ever played through the fireworks before…not even Paul McCartney!” and I felt vindicated in my obsession, and left feeling I was among a lot more Springsteen fans than had been there at the start of the weekend. As for me, I’m off to Hard Rock Calling in July. Guess who is top of the bill on Saturday night!

(photo: A. Stephenson)

Read Lucy Cole's alternative account of the Isle of Wight Festival 2012 here.

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